'Black Lightning' Showrunner Salim Akil Talks That Intense Traffic Stop

Tonight's series premiere of Black Lightning opened on one of the most intense scenes in superhero TV history: the title character, with his daughters in the car, is pulled over, manhandled by the police, and dragged out of his vehicle with no explanation, before finally coming into conflict with the police and getting out of the situation only by willing himself to de-escalate it without using his super powers.

The scene, which was the first thing Akil came up with when he started developing the show, was not something he had to fight the network on, even if they did have a lot of conversations about it.

“There were discussions, because it was so intense, but it was never discussions where ‘we don’t want you do to this,’” Akil told ComicBook.com. “It was more like ‘help us understand why, in the first episode, in the first few minutes…’ And I felt it was important to talk about all of the things we were talking about.”

The incident is one that came out of Akil's personal life -- something he has not been shy about mentioning in the past -- but now that the world at large had seen it play out, he provided some additional, chilling details of the night that he is pretty sure that taking the high road saved his life.

“That actually came from a moment in my life, where I was in Santa Monica and I got pulled over,” Akil explained. “I had been pulled over quite a bit by police officers, especially in Santa Monica and Culvert City. This night, I had been working hard and it was late and I was still headed to my office to work some more and I got pulled over, and I started to drop the mask of ‘This is the way I was supposed to act; I’m supposed to be safe,’ and I started talking back and arguing, and they started arguing and I had a moment. I had to close my eyes and ask myself, ‘Is this worth dying for?’ and then when I opened them, I just took a breath and I’m still alive.”

Black Lightning airs on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT following new episodes of The Flash on The CW.

Black LightningTuesday at 9 PM EST on The CW

Black Lightning

Black LightningTuesday at 9 PM EST on The CW

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