During today’s upfronts, The CW dropped the first trailer for Black Lightning, its latest superhero show. It shows off plenty of superpowered action, but the show won’t be part of the larger DC universe that the network has put together.
Played by Cress Williams, Black Lightning is one of DC’s first black superheroes, and as the name suggests, his powers are based in electricity. In this trailer, he’s described as a hero who kept the streets safe from a gang known as the 100, but after one particularly nasty fight in 2005, he retired. As Jefferson Pierce, he became a high school principal and a devoted father. Fast forward to 2017, and the city’s gang violence hasn’t gone away. When his daughter is threatened, he comes out of retirement to return to crimefighting. Adding to the drama, his daughters are beginning to manifest powers of their own.
In recent years, The CW has put together an impressive universe based on DC characters (one that seems to be far better than its big-screen counterparts), which includes Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl. However, Black Lightning won’t be joining that lineup, according to CW chief Mark Pedowitz. He noted that part of the reason is logistics: Black Lightning films in Atlanta, while the other four shows shoot in Vancouver, Canada, making a crossover between the five stories logistically difficult. That’s not to say that the show couldn’t eventually join them, but it seems like that’s just not in the cards at the moment. “We do not aim to do a five-way crossover,” Pedowitz explained. “Black Lightning, at this time, is not part of the Arrowverse. It is a separate situation.”
Indeed, Black Lightning and Supergirl share a creator in Greg Berlanti, who is heavily involved in the other Arrowverse shows. Supergirl was initially separate when it began its life on CBS, but later joined the universe when it moved to The CW for its second season. While Black Lightning is starting off its life outside of the Arrowverse, crossing over wouldn’t be unheard of.
Pedowitz also noted that Black Lightning is debuting midseason, while the other shows are expected to air in the fall, which would allow The CW to have at least one superhero show on at any given point.