Black Lightning Review: More than just another superhero show

Black Lightning

Black Lightning premiered last week on the CW. The premiere episode wasn’t an origin story, which is a big change from what we have come to expect from superhero shows. The show instead focuses on the rebirth of Freeland’s beloved hero, Black Lightning.

Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) has been out of the crime fighting game for some time dedicating his life to improve his community by serving as a high school principal. The 100 Gang have the citizens of the city living in fear despite Jefferson’s attempts at breaking the cycle of violence.

Black Lightning is grounded in realism. The city of Freeland is dealing with gang violence, police corruption and racism. One of the more powerful moments of the premiere episode was when a police officer was yelling at Pierce telling him to “get his black ass on the ground.” Pierce’s reaction was everything we wanted it to be. Black Lightning is the hero we need in these troubling times. He is a representation of hope for a generation that is currently fighting against similar battles.

The acting is very strong. The performances are spot on. Cress Williams’ portrayal of Jefferson Pierce is straight from the comic books. China Anne McClain is great as the rebellious younger daughter. Nafessa Williams plays the straight-laced older daughter. Both daughters have powers in the comics, so expect them to help their father fight against Tobias Whale season. Pending a renewal, I’d expect this season lay the groundwork for an Outsiders team lead by Black Lightning. Especially since Anissa (Nafessa Williams) is dating Grace Choi who is a member of the Outsiders. Marvin Jones is sooo good as Tobias Whale!

I am not a fan of the suit. However, we’ve seen improvements of the suits on Arrow and The Flash. I fully expect the suit to improve next season. The camera work is amazing. The sense of scale and drama are captured perfectly. The action sequences could use some improvement, but not every super hero fight can be Daredevil season 1. The flashbacks don’t add much to the story, but it took a while for Arrow to step away from flashbacks.

Black Lightning is so much more than just another comic book show. It’s a show with African American leads in an African American community facing problems that are all too familiar for many African Americans. I had my reservations when I first saw the trailer, but the CW hit it out of the park with this one. I’m glad I was wrong about Black Lightning.

“Black Lightning” airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW or you can watch it for FREE on demand via the CW app available on iOS, Android, Roku, FireTV, Xbox… pretty much everywhere. 

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