Black Lightning will be a very different show from its CW cousins in a number of ways, including executive producer Salim Akil’s suggestion that the program could be a three-season series.
“They’re going to hate me for saying that,” he told The Hollywood Reporter during an expansive interview about the upcoming series. “But three [seasons]. Realistically, for me, I could get out what’s inside me in that time.”
What he hopes to explore with the show, which star Cress Williams as a former superhero returning to the life after retiring to raise his children, is explore the disconnect between high-crime communities and the sources of the weapons and drugs these elements trade in. Consequently, the show will not be rely on “villain of the week” tropes like Smallville or early seasons of Arrow and The Flash. Instead, Akil wants to explore “why they were the way they were.” Eventually, he hopes to branch out of the fictional community of Freeland into the places where weapons and drugs are manufactured.
“The series could easily be called Black Man’s Paranoia, aka Salim’s Paranoia, because I feel like a lot of this sh*t is just dumped into these communities because it can be,” he explained. “Like the opioid addiction, we know that pharmaceutical companies are just dumping that shit into these rural areas because these doctors are just writing scripts.”
If a three-season short run superhero series can expose some of those things, Akil and his producing partner/wife Mara Brock Akil are the people to do it. Of course, there’s always the option that the Akils tell their story in three years and move onto a new story for a fourth season. Remember when Arrow was envisioned as a five-season concept? Maybe that’s not a bad model to follow, especially if it allows the Black Lightning team full freedom to tell this very different superhero tale.
Black Lightning debuts January 16th on The CW.