Roughly two weeks ago, we learned that Greg Berlanti, Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil were shopping around a proposed TV series starring DC superhero Black Lightning. Then just days ago, FOX placed a pilot order for the show. Things are moving briskly with this project!
The Akils are the creators and producers of ‘The Game’ and ‘Being Mary Jane’ on BET. Of course, Berlanti is already the mastermind behind some of the biggest superhero shows out there, ‘Arrow’, ‘The Flash’, ‘Legends of Tomorrow’, ‘Supergirl’ as well non-superhero hits ‘Blindspot’ and ‘The Mysteries of Laura’ and the upcoming ‘Riverdale’.
How did Berlanti get attached to yet another superhero series? He explained:
“That was mostly [executive producers] Mara [Brock Akil] and Salim [Akil], who are incredibly talented, and the studio just asked me to godfather them a bit, since this genre is newer for them. But they really have a vision for that show, so I hope I can help them execute it.”
He also explained the process of crafting a superhero show and the lessons he’s learned about making them, adding that this approach is exactly how the Akils crafted ‘Black Lightning’:
“A few of [lessons I’ve learned] would be that the shows have to exist as if they had nothing to do with superheroes as well. What kind of show would it be? What would it be about? What’s the emotional core of the main character and their journey? Inevitably if that stuff isn’t there, everything else feels like noise. I’d say also, your heroes are only as good as your villains. They have to have a great villain as well to challenge the hero. And to not be afraid to make it as specific as possible. Obviously we participate in a lot of these shows right now, and there are a lot of them in TV and movies. The ones that succeed have a real specificity to them. [The Akils] did that and worked their heart and soul into their pitch. It’s a very personal story for them. I hope people will connect with it.”
The current crop of superhero shows feature a wide range of characters of different ethnicities, genders, sexualities and even ages. ‘Supergirl’ became the first among these with a female protagonist while over on The CW’s Seed, Vixen (African American woman) and The Ray (gay male lead) headline their own animated series which are connected to live action shows.
Berlanti also addressed the importance of diversity:
“As the shows have gotten more successful, executives are more open to taking the shows in all sorts of different directions and making them for everybody. It’s so great because it’s at the core of these characters. They’re heroes for everyone. It’s nice for people to see some bit of themselves in these heroes. And it’s just as powerful to me when a little boy comes up to me and talks about Supergirl and thinks she’s just as cool as The Flash. It feels like it’s part of the revolution happening in general on television. As there are more shows, people are getting better at realizing there should be more shows about, and for, and by, everybody from all walks of life. That’s better for everybody. It makes you a better storyteller.”
The synopsis for ‘Black Lightning reads:
Black Lightning centers on Jefferson Pierce. He made his choice: he hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago, but with a daughter hell-bent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.
Should FOX pick up the ‘Black Lightning’ pilot, it would join ‘Gotham’ as the second DC show on that network, provided ‘Gotham’ gets picked up for at least a fourth season. Hey, all FOX needs is two more and they’ll have their own DC hero block just like The CW’s.
Are you excited by the prospect of a ‘Black Lightning’ TV series? Can it match the strength of the hero shows already on the air? Is there even room for one more?
Source: Indie Wire