When The CW shows return from winter break next week, not only will most of the Arrowerse shows return, a new show, Black Lightning, will debut as well. However, despite being a DC superhero show, Black Lightning won't be joining the shared universe.
Instead, Black Lighting will take place fully within its own universe, and according to executive producer Salim Akil, the reason is to give the show a chance to create its own world first.
"I say this with all due respect, but they're not really relevant to the show that we're doing," Akil told The Wrap at the Television Critics Association press tour on Sunday. "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."
News that Black Lightning would not be part of the Arrowverse -- the shared universe in which Arrow, The Flash, Supergirl, and Legends of Tomorrow all take place -- surprised fans when it was first announced, but it's not the first time a CW show has started out not fully connected to the larger DCTV world on The CW only to end up a significant part of it. For those who may not recall, Supergirl originally started out on CBS and was filmed in Los Angeles as opposed to Vancouver where the Arrowverse shows were. However, when the show moved to The CW, Supergirl became a more established part of the shared universe -- even if Supergirl technically lives on a separate Earth entirely (Earth-38 to be exact.)
However, while Black Lightning isn't coming from another network like Supergirl did, Black Lightning also isn't shooting in Vancouver. Instead, the show is shooting in Atlanta and, more importantly, the show has a different type of story to tell. The show, which deals with a formerly-retired superhero who returns to deal with a gang problem in his city, is more gritty and political than the other CW DC shows. It's something that even the show's star, Cress Williams, told ComicBook.com would make crossing over to the Arrowverse a bit harder.
"It would be hard," Cress said. "The thing is, I don't know, I don't see the world where I would want to leave my community to help them, basically, we got our hands full."
Of course, that doesn't mean it couldn't happen eventually. Akil's comments at the TCA press tour leave the door open for the future once Black Lightning has well-established itself with fans. Akil has previously acknowledged that fans would like to see Black Lightning crossover with the other shows at some point. And it's not like Akil hasn't thought about himself. When ComicBook.com asked during a recent set visit if he'd thought about what Earth Black Lightning might take place on, Akil confirmed that he had.
"You know it," he said. "You know it. Yes."
Black Lightning premiers Tuesday, January 16 at 9/8c on The CW.