Netflix Superhero Series Stars Groundbreaking DC Hero

By Matthew Flynn | Published

One of the CW’s hit superhero shows is now streaming on Netflix. More than just another Arrowverse offering, Black Lightning is a vital character and a unique entry to the DC universe.

The First Black DC Superhero

The TV show Black Lightning made history as the first TV series to feature a Black DC universe character as its lead. The character Black Lightning, otherwise known as Jefferson Pierce, stands as a symbol of change and progression in the comic book industry and its adaptations.

The creation of Black Lightning in 1977 by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden was considered groundbreaking at the time. It was one of the first instances of a major black superhero in mainstream comics, marking a significant milestone in the representation and diversity of characters in the industry. DC, wanting to create a Black superhero of its own, hired Isabella after his successful work on one of Marvel’s Black superheroes, Luke Cage.

Black Lightning’s 4 Season Run

The launch of the TV series Black Lightning in 2018 was just as significant as the character’s comic book debut. The show addresses topics such as police brutality, systemic racism, and social injustice in a way that is both thought-provoking and entertaining. It showcases the struggles and complexities of being a Black man in America, and how those struggles can be amplified when coupled with superhuman abilities.

The character of Jefferson Pierce embodies the idea of using one’s powers for the greater good. He is a high school principal who becomes Black Lightning to protect his community from violence and corruption.

Among the critical praises received by ‘Black Lightning’, the show’s relevant social commentary, representation, and strong performances stand out. The series is often lauded for its nuanced portrayal of a black superhero and unique exploration of themes related to family, identity, and social justice.

The Women Of Black Lightning

Black Lightning also features strong and dynamic female characters who play integral roles in the plot. From Anissa Pierce (aka Thunder), Jefferson’s daughter who discovers her own superpowers, to Lynn Stewart, Jefferson’s ex-wife and a skilled scientist, the women in Black Lightning are not just side characters but fully developed and integral to the storyline.

Part Of The Arrowverse

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Although initially existing outside of the Arrowverse, Black Lightning underwent an integration with the Arrowverse during its third season, leading up to Black Lightning’s participation in the “Crisis on Infinite Earths” crossover event. The Arrowverse encompasses popular shows, including Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow.

The Cast Of Black Lightning

The cast of ‘Black Lightning’ is headlined by Cress Williams, who brings the character of Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning to life. Cress Williams is a familiar face, having played significant roles on popular TV shows since the nineties, such as Beverly Hills 90210, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, Veronica Mars, and Prison Break.

Other key cast members include China Anne McClain as Jennifer Pierce/Lightning, Nafessa Williams as Anissa Pierce/Thunder, and Christine Adams as Lynn Stewart.

The Spinoff That Almost Was

In 2020, a Black Lightning spinoff series centered around the character Khalil Payne/Painkiller, played by Jordan Calloway, was announced under the title Painkiller. However, the spinoff project did not proceed as expected and was eventually canceled in May 2021.

Stream Black Lightning on Netflix to follow the adventures of one of the most groundbreaking characters in comics and superhero TV.