Interview with the Writers of Black Lightning

Black Lightning creator Salim Akil as well as writers Lamont Magee, Adam Giaudrone, and Pat Charles chatted with us at Wondercon. While they couldn’t give away many spoilers, they had a lot to say about the Pierce family dynamics and the importance of all kinds of representation in the media.

When asked about the motto of “Do you believe in the Resurrection,” creator Salim Akil explained that “Resurrection just sort of means do you believe anything can happen.” And after growing up with many challenges which he overcame, he certainly counts himself as one of the believers. “You’re looking at somebody who is the resurrection, for me to be sitting here with you guys talking about a show that I’m doing. I’m a walking miracle because I didn’t know anybody, didn’t have anything. I try to work those themes subtly and overtly into the show as best I can.”

He claimed he doesn’t currently have plans to bring in new DC characters precisely because he wants fans to get to know the Pierce family first. “I’m excited about these young women having powers, and what they’re going to do with them.” One of the ways Black Lightning is exploring those powers is through Jennifer’s reluctance. “I wanted to show that sometimes it’s not so great, you don’t want this. It’s like being drafted into the military… It was very easy to separate a person who thinks it’s a blessing or gift from God, and this other person who thinks it could be a curse from the devil.”

After the reveals in the next episode of Black Lightning, writer Adam Giaudrone informed us that separating Principal Pierce from his vigilante alter ego is going to get a lot harder. “It’s gonna have an impact on him moving forward because his two worlds are crossing.” And that’s not even taking into account how Tobias will up the stakes when he returns from mourning his sister’s death. “His return is going to be built off that, and there’s surprises to be had.”

Giaudrone also explained why fans haven’t seen much of Grace Choi since Anissa got her powers, and it mostly has to do with centering the latter’s story first. “The Pierce family is at the heart of [Black Lightning]. We want to get to know them as a family, we want to get to know Anissa as an individual… We’ve seen what would traditionally be the superhero arc through her.” Nevertheless, “Grace is a very important part of the comic book world of Anissa and Thunder, and we are very aware of that.”

Another writer, Lamont Magee, teased that “fairly soon you’ll see how Lala came back and why all this stuff is happening to him… It’s coming very soon, in like two episodes.” But even if we learn what’s going on with him, there’s still the ASA to deal with. “The ASA is the big bad, and you will learn a lot [about them] very soon.” And just like Lala returned earlier, tonight’s episode has more ghosts from the past – with even more to come in the future. “Just remember all the people you’ve seen, because they may or may not be coming back.”

Magee also had his own interpretation of the Jennifer vs. Anissa dichotomy. “In my mind, I feel like Jefferson’s a lot more like Jennifer when he was younger. He grew up, and Anissa’s following the guy that he became. But when he’s Black Lightning, he’s a lot more like Jennifer is.”

Last but not least, Pat Charles previewed the main themes of the next few episodes, including “the emergence of Jennifer… and the family working together to accept their new reality.” Charles also hinted that the show will further explain why Jefferson and Lynn stayed apart for nine years. “Like any relationship, you think you know the reason why you break up or stay together. And a lot of times, it’s not what you think it is.”

Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c in the US, and is available worldwide on Netflix the following day.

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