Most of the DC super-hero shows airing on the CW network feature actors who are too young for the characters they are playing. In a surprising departure from the norm, DC and the CW have cast a 46-year-old leading man for their upcoming series. The character of Black Lighting, AKA Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) will not be a lovelorn youth obsessing over his girlfriend (like Oliver with Felicity or Barry with Iris) but is instead a married man with two teen daughters. No amateur super-heroing here…this hero starts out as an experienced veteran crime-fighter.
The official synopsis is as follows…
“Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a man wrestling with a secret. As the father of two daughters and principal of a charter high school that also serves as a safe haven for young people in a New Orleans neighborhood overrun by gang violence, he is a hero to his community. Nine years ago, Pierce was a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he used those powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. However, after too many nights with his life on the line, and seeing the effects of the damage and loss that his alter ego was inflicting on his family, he left his Super Hero days behind and settled into being a principal and a dad. Choosing to help his city without using his superpowers, he watched his daughters Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) grow into strong young women, even though his marriage to their mother, Lynn (Christine Adams), suffered. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind him…or so he thought. But with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire, and those he cares about in the crosshairs of the menacing local gang The One Hundred, Black Lightning returns — to save not only his family, but also the soul of his community.”
The premise sounds interesting and will be unique among the youth-obsessed CW shows. In a way, it looks like it could also be DC’s answer to Luke Cage, putting it in a time and place well-suited for their first show starring a black super hero, and may attract a cross-over audience.
It’s yet to be seen if the CW can actually write such a character well, or if they’ll fall back on old habits and focus instead on the teen daughters (who will become the heroines Lightning and Thunder). If they do keep Black Lightning as the centerpiece of all this, it has the potential to be the most character-driven and mature comic book show the CW has ever done.