Search This Blog

Thursday, September 1, 2016

CW Announces Black Lightning Show

If you liked this article, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter and please consider Donating to keep the blog going

Edited by Robert Beach 
You have to wonder how many superheroes there are to adapt. I mean, I love the genre, and I flatter myself by saying I have a vast and encyclopedic knowledge of both Marvel and DC heroes. At some point, there just aren’t going to be the characters to keep these movie and TV universes going. More than that, the more times the folks behind these adaptations try and repeat their success, the less likely they are to manage it. I mean, WB has been trying to recapture the success of Dark Knight for 8 years, and they haven’t managed it once. Now, over at CW (aka the only good DC production outlet currently working), they’ve recently announced they're launching their 5th superhero show, starring DC’s first solo black hero Black Lightning. 

As much as I like Black Lightning, I have to wonder if this is the straw that’s going to break CW’s back, especially given they stated earlier they were pretty much full up on superheroes. Even though the company and Berlanti Productions have worked wonders with all of their previous adaptations, this is going against the law of averages given how much harder it is to make a consistently good TV show as opposed to a one-off movie. If you aren’t familiar with CW’s current line-up, the network started with Arrow in 2012, which was and still is their weakest entry before launching The Flash in 2014. 

The Flash suffered till its crossover with Arrow, and Berlanti and co. just decided to embrace the high-concept weirdness of the character. That embracement of the fanciful source material went on to inform their two most recent series Legends of Tomorrow (a time-travel superhero team show) and Supergirl (inherited from CBS). And that’s not even getting into the animated shorts they produce for their website that previously starred Vixen and will now feature the Ray. 

That’s a full plate no matter how you slice it, a fact even CW had to admit. Now this makes me wonder if this announcement is in preparation to clearing the decks. As I mentioned, Arrow may be the show that started the CW-verse, but it’s become a superfluous element of it and a poorly executed one at that.  

Currently, CW’s various shows all try to serve some focus within their superhero reality: Supergirl is about alien sci-fi, Legends of Tomorrow deals with history and time travel, and The Flash is steeped in weird science. Arrow briefly flirted with covering the magic and supernatural side of the shared universe in season 4, but it is apparently backing off that angle for season 5. 

Given that Arrow Season 5 is already introducing a ton of new characters to try and keep things fresh, maybe Berlanti and the CW have finally decided the series has run its course, and it’s time to be replaced. 

If CW did want to replace Arrow, Black Lightning is a pretty sharp stand-in for a lot of reasons. Firstly, Black Lightning is one of the few other DC heroes who could fill Green Arrow’s political shoes as the character has always been charged with political ideology and even served as Secretary of Education for a time.  

What’s more, Black Lightning in the comics has had a history of working out of Metropolis, a location CW can now actually explore thanks to their deal with the CW. If CW wanted to get their shared universe away from Star City and play up their newly acquired Superman brand, Black Lightning would be a good way to do that without creating a whole Superman show. 

Speaking of ties to Supergirl, CW would spin out a new show out of an existing work like Flash’s cameo on Arrow or the way the Legends of Tomorrow formed out of various supporting heroes from The Flash and Arrow. If that’s the plan for Black Lightning, I suspect Supergirl as the show he first appears on, especially given CW’s plans to bring that series in-continuity with its other shows.  

What’s more, we know that Supergirl season 2 has a major plot relating to the White House and the presidency. If they wanted to make the Black Lightning show about some super-powered cabinet secretary, they’ve already got the means to do that. 

Regardless of whether or not Black Lightning will replace Arrow or any other show, just the fact CW is looking for a black-led superhero series is major news.  The decision comes on the heels of Black Panther’s major success in Captain America: Civil War and is actively pre-empting this month’s new Netflix superhero show of Luke Cage, so it’s certainly topical. Even if this just is CW chasing trends, diversity is still an absolute good. The superhero genre could definitely use more of it, though CW has always been ahead of the curve in this department. 

So far, they’ve featured several super women of color like Hawkgirl, Vixen, and Katana in addition to making the West family on The Flash black, cementing their racial identity in what’s shaping up to be the definitive Flash adaptation. Hell, they’ve even managed to code Martian Manhunter and Miss Martian as black humans when they aren’t in their alien form, meaning they’ve actively added to the representation of source material in a positive way.  Producing a new superhero show with a black lead and presumably an emphasis on integrating more heroes of color would be a great way to add that representation on screen. 

If you liked this article, please like us on 
Facebook or follow us on Twitter and please consider Donating to keep the blog going 

No comments:

Post a Comment