Black Lightning Has ‘No Filter,’ Says Co-Creator Salim Akil

Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden.
Black Lightning was created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden. DC Comics

The San Diego Comic Con panel for Black Lightning proved tackling social issues is going to be a huge theme of the series, even if these situations may force difficult conversations.

“I think it’s time. I think Jefferson Pierce is the epitome of what black men are. He’s a man that is in love with his wife. He loves his children. He loves his community. This family is the Obama’s of the superhero world,” showrunner Salim Akil told the crowd at SDCC. “I think what makes it so timely is that when we look on the news and we see that there are 125 shootings in Chicago over 4th of July weekend, there are no people in that neighborhood going to to try to save people. So that's why we need him.”

Black Lightning puts community first. His agenda is born of pure responsibility, which is another thing that separates him from other powerful superheroes.

“He’s going into the community and I think that we affect change positively from the inside out so he starts from family to his community and then that affects outward,” Akil explains. “Usually we see heroes who are just trying to save the world but he’s trying to save the world one person at a time.”

Executive Producer Mara Brock Akil maintains Black Lightning is not only a celebration of black culture, but American culture.

“Through our lens, through our scope, through our pain, joy, struggle, and triumphs we can see that we really are all connected,” she said. “The challenge is not giving into the idea that we need to be perfect ... yes, there is definitely a problem with police brutality and we will get into that but there is also a huge problem with us killing each other and we don't mind addressing that.”

It’s the groundedness of Black Lightning, who was created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden, Akil identifies with most.

“Jefferson touched on so many things that are interesting to me. One of the most popular albums right now is Jay Z, and the reason people like the album is because it comes from an authentic black male voice and it describes what it feels like as a man, a father, and an artist,” he said. “I think the thing that will make this so much fun for myself and the other writers is that this is going to come from an authentic black male voice and there's no filter and I’m not afraid to talk about things we need to talk about and that’s what will set the show apart.”

As much as Akil says he loves all the other CW shows that paved the way, he believes Black Lightning is going to add something to the conversation.

“It’s going to give something back to the culture,” Akil concludes. “What I expect by Halloween is to see little black boys and black girls who have a choice. They can be Batman or Black Lightning. They can be Supergirl or Thunder or Lightning. To me this is what it's all about.”

Black Lightning premieres on The CW early 2018.

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