Black Lightening seeks to make a ton of political and social statements, the issue is that Black Lightning seeks to make a ton of political and social statements. We all have that friend that never stops talking and seems to know all there is to know, how often we dream of throwing a pie in their face! I admire the willingness of the writers to make some amazing statements and applaud their willingness to raise controversial subjects such a racism, gang culture, social reform, and equal opportunities. However, I do wish they would not try and do all of this at the same time. The execution of narrative in this production turns their potentially powerful message into a muffled scream.
There are so many themes in this series that is often becomes convoluted and difficult to keep up with the character motivations and determining who the antagonists are. This being said it is refreshing to not have a polished Marvel / DC series that seeks ratings and nerd fantasies, this series genuinely tries to ask strong and meaningful questions. Perhaps this is the reason why it has achieved some of the biggest viewing figures in CW network history.
Our protagonist, Jefferson Pierce, is a retired superhero working as a Headmaster of a school in a deprived area. The first and most meaningful statement here is that education can be more effective than violence in reform and social change. Pierce sticks to his principles, as principle, and continues to use vocabulary to persuade peace and community cohesion. Unfortunately as soon as his own family is in trouble he goes back to fighting.
Once Pierce resumes his life as Black Lightning more complications are thrown in, least of which is his ex-wife holding him to ransom for ruining their marriage and family. Once this plot develops themes such as vigilantly action, family obligation, and conflicted morality join the party. Things get a little more complex when one of his daughters starts to develop superpowers, now he must question once again the merits and pitfalls of a life as a superhero and father.
Aside from the fact that this show tries to cover too much too quickly there are other little niggles that annoy me. Black Lightening looks like Pierce, the disguise is pointless. In a later episode it resolves this by saying that the lightning causes a blurring effect ‘Like looking at a really bright light’, yet all characters look Black Lightning in the eye without discomfort. This is further ridiculed by the fact that all his daughter does to disguise herself is put on a blond wig! So this show is frustrating as it could have been amazing, instead it has become a show that will not stop talking at 100 miles an hour.
This production would be so much more effective if they slow the plot, define the motivation, sort out the costumes, and stop the lead actor looking like he is in constant need of the toilet! This show is worth watching just for the bravery in raising serious debate about racism, violence, and social reform. In majority the actors do a great job with a heavy script and if you can latch on to one of the plots you will be inspired to watch another episode, but it is not overly addictive.
Becoming Black Lightning Analysis – Black Lightning. For Master’s Degree – Falmouth University
In a neighborhood riddled with crime, violence, gang culture, and racial boundaries the only superhero that would make sense is one with motivations for social reform. In a powerful statement the Superhero, Black Lightning, is established first as a Headmaster and father with a motivation to provide opportunities and inspire change in young lives.
Jefferson Pierce is a man who knows that violence is not the answer and his life as a superhero causes him major conflict in his morals. He decides to retire from crime fighting to save his marriage and focus on educational reform.
The police have no control over the gangs in the neighborhood and violence is a way of life, a life that often drags young lives into a circle of violence. When a young and talented athlete becomes involved with a gang called The 100 Jefferson tries to intervene but is unsuccessful.
With the 100 gaining more control more lives are entangled and eventually Jefferson’s daughter is affected. With things becoming personal Jefferson reluctantly puts on the Black Lightning suit and heads out to inflict justice. With young lives being ruined and his own family now directly affected, Jefferson now has all of his motivations in jeopardy. With so much at stake he simply feels he has no choice but to become Black Lightning once again.