CW loves Greg Berlanti’s shows about superheroes, so I’m not surprised that they picked up Black Lightning. In terms of the future, my early prediction was:
CW: Black Lightning – It’s all Berlanti, all the time, it would be crazy to bet against it, even without the Arrowverse tie-ins, RENEWED;
Now that I’ve seen the episode, I’m not as convinced. Arrow, Flash, Supergirl and DC Legends of Tomorrow all have a “bigger than me” feel to them, even in their first few episodes. The Green Arrow was taking down his father’s cronies; the Flash was working for the police; Supergirl was following in her cousin’s footprints; and the Legends are SAVING TIME itself. But Black Lightning is the opposite. He just wants to be a school principal, forget his old Black Lightning ways, be a good father, and get jiggy with his ex-wife.
And that only changes through the episode when he has to save his daughters. Will it change for the future? Of course, but he is a very reluctant superhero, and like the Luke Cage theme, it gets old pretty fast. If he doesn’t want to be a superhero, why do I want to watch him try not to be one?
His daughters bop between being street-wise and being dumb as posts, and as damsels in distress, I never felt their dread. It was too “pat”, and they were in “danger” but never much at actual risk. I don’t even think they’re bruised in the end.
Cress Williams plays the principal / Black Lightning and while he has lots of different big shows under his belt, none of them were ones I watched regularly. And the principal isn’t very compelling to me. Normally superheroes have an inept alter-ego, this one is Super Principal. His daughters were okay, nothing exciting, nor was his ex-wife. Damon Gupton plays about the 10th police detective of his career, shouldn’t be a stretch.
The one bright spark I saw, no pun intended, was his white “Alfred”…James Remar was great as Gordon’s uncle on Gotham, Cephelo on the Shannara Chronicles, Harry Morgan on Dexter, Jonah on Jericho, Rayden in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, and Ganz in 48 Hours. Heck, I even loved him as the Rear-Window-esque husband/suspected killer in What Lies Beneath. I pretty much love him in anything. And with 167 acting credits going back to 1978, that’s a lot to love.
But what kind of statement does it make that the only character in Black Lightning with an interesting casting was the token white guy/mentor?