Here's Why 'Black Lightning' Is Set In a Fictional City

The latest superhero show on The CW has impressed fans and critics alike, as Black Lightning is [...]

The latest superhero show on The CW has impressed fans and critics alike, as Black Lightning is more grounded in reality than any of the other DC Comics-based shows (yes, even Arrow).

So why is it set in the fictional city of Freeland?

Co-showrunner Salim Akil recently spoke about that creative decision at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, revealing the show was originally going to be set in a real-life city.

"I was going to call it Richmond, because that's where I'm from — Richmond, California. But I didn't want to make people feel bad about being in the communities that they were in," said Akil. "This is a story about me, and it's a story about the people that I know. And I want to show them respect."

Unlike other superhero shows, Black Lightning unflinchingly deals with social issues such as systemic racism and crime, with only cursory comic book influences at this point. The pilot was one of The CW's most successful premieres in the network's history, and even the re-run garnered huge ratings despite airing during the typically difficult time on Friday evening.

The fictional setting also allows Akil and the other writers to make yet another statement about the show's direction, admitting that the name 'Freeland' is very much in reference to Black Lightning "trying to free the people."

Based on the first episode alone, it's clear that Black Lightning will be unlike any other comic book series on television today. Akil and Mara Brock Akil are creating a series that can comment on contemporary issues in the United States in one of the most popular genres in the current culture.

While only one episode in this mid-season series have aired thus far, the immense and positive response bodes well for Black Lightning and its future on The CW. It'll be exciting to see how it develops alongside the established series that have already earned their own fanbases on the network.

Black Lightning's next episode, "Lawanda: The Book of Hope," airs Tuesday, January 23 on The CW.

(h/t TVLine)