Following the success of Marvel's African-American superhero series Luke Cage, Black Lightning will try to widen the demographic and diversity reach of the DC Entertainment brand, though fans may not be all that familiar with the character at the center of the show.
However, after seeing the first Black Lightning trailers, both newcomers and hardcore DC Comics fans alike have had one shared question: What's up with that costume?
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) has the ability to harness and control energy, but he needs a specialized suit to help him control it. That mechanized suit comes with a pretty conspicuous aesthetic choice: a chest emblem lit in neon lights, which seems like an unwise choice for a hero who is battling gang members in the dead of night.
While at San Diego Comic-Con 2017, ComicBook.com had the chance to sit down with the cast of Black Lightning, along with showrunner, writer, and executive producer Salim Akil, and we asked him to explain the logic behind Black Lightning's luminescent suit. You can watch the interview above, or read Akil's response, below.
Apparently, Black Lightning's costume lights aren't just strange aesthetic choices; they have actual function and importance in the show:
"Look the costume it does light up at night. And really it has to do with his energy; the energy that he stores, and the energy that he loses," Akil explained. "So when it's bluish, he's stored up a lot of energy; when it gets yellowish, he's depleted. So we wanted people to know that he was mortal, that he could be hurt. And we wanted you to know when he's hurt, without us saying "Oh look, he's hurt!
...So we like it. It's not like the guy who was on Cops who was running away from the cops and his shoes kept lighting up [laughter]. There's a method to the madness."
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.
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