Initially set up at Fox TV, Warner Bros/DC Comics project “Black Lightning” has now moved to The CW, where it has received an official pilot order. Fox put the project in turnaround after deciding not to proceed with a pilot. The move to The CW actually makes sense, as other Greg Berlanti superhero series (“The Flash” and “Supergirl”) are all currently at The CW. Recall “Supergirl” spent its first season on CBS, but it never really quite caught on with that network’s viewers, and so it was shipped off to The CW.
Berlanti is collaborating with Mara Brock and Salim Akil on a live-action series based on the Black Lightning superhero – one of the first major African American superheroes to appear in DC Comics.
According to DC Comics Universe lore, Black Lightning (real name Jefferson Pierce) – created by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden, first appearing in “Black Lightning #1” (1977) – is a superhero with the ability to generate and control lightning. Originally he was a high school principal and Olympic-level athlete who became a vigilante to take down organized crime in Metropolis’ Suicide Slum. Eventually he would become a member of Batman’s team of Outsiders for many years, although he retired briefly to become secretary of education underneath president Lex Luthor. Returning to crime-fighting, he has also been a member of the Justice League. His two daughters operate as the super-heroes Thunder and Lightning.
Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil will write and executive produce the series with Berlanti Prods.’ Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, for Warner Bros. TV (recall the Akils inked a 3-year deal with Warner Bros. TV after exiting BET in 2015. “Black Lightning” will be their second project under the new deal; the other is a comedy series titled “Documenting Love” which will center on a modern-day power couple navigating life, love and family.
The Black Lightning series has been in the works at Warner Bros. for over a year, going through different variations, because the TV studio wanted to make sure it got the character, his world, and the overall series right.
No word at this time on how the comic book hero will be transferred to the small screen, and certainly no casting news. Although should The CW love the pilot which it has now ordered, a 2018 TV season premiere is likely.
The character has appeared in a number of animated series and films, but never in his own series, and definitely not live-action.
While you wait for the CW series (should it be picked up as a series), one “Black Lightning” project that is much more of a sure-thing is an upcoming fan-made short film dedicated to the DC comic/Warner Bros Justice League superhero.
Titled “Black Lightning – Tobias’s Revenge,” The film hails from Darkan Entertainment, and is directed by Choice Skinner, who also stars as the title character.
Skinner came up with the story and wrote the screenplay with James Moten-Black, with visual effects by both gentlemen, along with Chase Baker.
Its synopsis reads: While on a mission to rescue the kidnapped mayor of Metropolis, Jefferson Pierce (aka Black Lightning) faces his nemesis Tobias Whale, and several high ranking members of the 100 gang, making it his toughest battle yet.
The expected 25 minute short co-stars James M. Black as Static, Dimitri Morantus as Tobias Whale, Jay Hunter as Gangbuster and Sachiko Ishida as Lady Shiva.
Shot over the spring and summer of 2016 for a total of 7 days, financed entirely by the filmmakers, the fan-made DC film is currently in post-production, and is expected to be completed by March 2017, given how much VFX work has to be done.
A necessary disclaimer by the filmmakers reads: “‘Black Lightning – Tobias’s Revenge’ is a non-profit film for private use only, and is not for sale or resale. It is strictly for the promotional use of the filmmakers. It is in NO way endorsed by Warner Brothers, DC Comics or FOX television nor is it intended to undermine or compete with any existing or forthcoming material. ‘Black Lightning – Tobias’s Revenge’ is created for fun and should not be sold, rented or used for anything of the sort. Darkan Entertainment, LLC makes no claim to any of the characters, locations, storyline, props, costume designs, logos, names or situations that are trademarked, copyrighted or otherwise protected by the federal, state, international or other intellectual property law. This film is produced solely for the personal enjoyment of the cast, crew and any other Black Lightning fans. No copyright infringement is intended or implied. All characters are owned by DC, Warner Brothers and Fox Television.”
A teaser-trailer for “Black Lightning – Tobias’s Revenge” is embedded below: