Yet another DC Comics superhero is making the jump to the small-screen: Black Lightning. Created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden in 1977, the character’s new show is a part of The CW — the network that currently houses DCTV fair like Supergirl, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow — but is not actually part of the shared TV universe those series occupy, often referred to as The Arrowverse. But why is that?
Mark Pedowitz, the head honcho at the CW, confirmed this last Spring. “Black Lightning at this time is not part of the Arrowverse,” he stated, conclusively. “It is a separate situation.” Though Pedowitz did refer to a big four-show crossover immediately after that statement, he was referring to the recent “Crisis on Earth-X” crossover involving Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl and Legends.
“I say this with all due respect, but [the Arrowverse shows are] not really relevant to the show that we’re doing,” series co-creator Salim Akil said recently at the Television Critics’ Association Winter press tour. “The great thing that Warner Bros. and CW allowed us to do was create our own world. We really wanted folk to get to know this family before we started branching out.”
There’s actually an historical reason for Black Lightning to exist outside the Arrowverse; the series was originally conceived as a Fox show, before it was turned down by the network before the pilot stage. The CW jumped in to take over the project after it had already been developed as a show that takes place in a more grounded, real-world universe than the Arrowverse, one where the titular street-level hero re-emerges in his 40s to take on a street gang known as The 100.
Practically speaking, the series would have a difficult time crossing over with the Arrowverse shows, because it films in Atlanta, Georgia. All of the Arrowverse series film up north, in Canada’s Vancouver, British Columbia.
So, Black Lightning is not in the Arrowverse — for now. That could, of course, change very easily, since Warner Bros. Television is responsible for both Black Lightning and the Arrowverse (and could easily explain Black Lightning’s world as some sort of alternate Earth). But for the time-being, it’s completely separate.
Debuting Tuesday, January 16, Black Lightning stars Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning, China Anne McClain as his younger daughter Jennifer Pierce, Nafessa Williams as his older daughter Anissa Pierce, Christine Adams as Lynn Pierce, James Remar as Peter Gambi, Damon Gupton as Henderson, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III as Tobias Whale and Chantal Thuy as Grace Choi.
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