Black Lightning is an American television series that airs on The CW, based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil created the series, which stars Cress Williams as the titular character alongside China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, James Remar, Damon Gupton, and Marvin Jones III. The series sees the retired Black Lightning return to the hero life and its effects on his family life.
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Development on the series began in September 2016 when Fox ordered a pilot production commitment for Black Lightning. In February 2017, Fox passed on the series, with it being picked up by The CW with a new script for the pilot. The CW officially ordered the series in May 2017. The first season premiered on January 16, 2018, for a 13-episode run.
Jefferson Pierce, who retired from his superhero persona Black Lightning nine years ago after seeing the effects it had on his family, is forced to become a vigilante again when the rise of the local gang called the 100 leads to increased crime and corruption in Freedland and his daughter is kidnapped by them.
In September 2016, after being in various stages of development, Warner Bros. Television began pitching Black Lightning to networks. The project was being developed by Mara Brock Akil and her husband, Salim Akil. They were partnered with Greg Berlanti, who was behind several DC Comics properties for the studio, eventually landing at Fox with a pilot production commitment. In February 2017, Fox opted not to go forward with the project, deciding that it was “not a good fit into its already crowded genre drama space”. Warner Bros. Television presented the project to other networks, with The CW officially ordering a pilot for Black Lightning. The CW also opted to discard the original pilot script, as it had been written for Fox, and shoot a short presentation instead. The CW officially ordered Black Lightning to series on May 10, 2017. It will premiere in 2018 of the 2017–18 season.
Salim Akil stated that Black Lightning would not follow the villain of the week format or be a procedural, because he wanted to “explore the characters, even the villains”.
In late February 2017, Cress Williams was cast as Jefferson Pierce / Black Lightning, followed a month later by the casting of China Anne McClain and Nafessa Williams as his daughters, Jennifer Pierce and Anissa Pierce, respectively, and Christine Adams was cast as Lynn Pierce, Jefferson’s ex-wife. At the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con International, it was announced that James Remar and Damon Gupton had joined the cast as Pierce’s friend Peter Gambi and detective inspector Henderson, respectively. The following month, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III of the hip hop group Strong Arm Steady was cast as Tobias Whale.
At the end of September 2017, Kyanna Simone Simpson was cast as the recurring role Kiesha.
Black Lightning’s costume was designed by Laura Jean Shannon.
Filming for the series takes place in Atlanta.