Why Black Lightning Is Set in the Real World: 'We Haven't Seen Any Superheroes in the Ghettos of America'

That Black Lightning revolves around an African-American family is “the least interesting” about The CW’s midseason superhero series.

As showrunners Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil (Being Mary Jane, The Game) proceeded to note during their and the cast’s visit to TVLine’s Comic-Con interview suite, the title character’s daughters will face their own battles as Dad (played by Cress Williams) gets drawn back into the costumed crimefighting game after a 10-year hiatus.

“Anissa (Nafessa Williams) is going to come into her own powers as Thunder, but she’s also a lesbian,” Salim Akil told TVLine Editor-in-Chief Michael Ausiello. “Jennifer (China Anne McClain) is going to come into her powers, but she has to deal with trying to be a 16-year-old.

Family matriarch Lynn (Christine Adams) included, “These are the Obamas of the superhero world,” he continued, “and that’s the way we’re approaching it.”

Set in present-day Atlanta, Black Lightning will be quite tonally different from fellow #DCTV series such as Arrow and The Flash — right down to bad guys that in keeping with the comic books are “socially relevant.”

“Our villains are not necessarily aliens or other people with superpowers, they’re the villains that we know every day,” said Salim Akil. “One-hundred and twenty-five shootings in Chicago over the Fourth of July weekend — those are bad guys. Somebody needs to address that, and we haven’t seen any superheroes in the ghettos of America. So, with this character at least you have a superhero who’s sort of going into this era that needs it most of all, but you also have a man who’s educating that community as well. That’s how it’s different.”

Watch the video Q&A above for more on Black Lightning, including the crisis that leads high school principal Jefferson Pierce to suit up again.

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