It seems Black Lightning will sort of fulfill showrunner Salim Akil‘s plans for it by ending with the upcoming fourth season.
According to EW, no reason has been given for the show’s ending, but some may recall Akil originally envisioned a three-year plan for his show. At the time of its premiere, the producer said, “They’re going to hate me for saying that … But three [seasons]. Realistically, for me, I could get out what’s inside me in that time.” He also said the show would examine “Black Man’s Paranoia, aka Salim’s Paranoia” regarding the government’s sabotage of the inner cities via the drug crises of various decades. In its full form, Black Lightning certainly touched on these topics and used superpowers as a metaphor for the violence perpetrated on Black communities.
In a statement released to the media, Akil thanked The CW and executive producer Greg Berlanti for “their partnership and support of my vision at every step of this journey.” He also referred to the in-development Painkiller spinoff as the “next step” in that journey.
He also thanked the cast and crew, writing, “I’m incredibly proud of the work we’ve been able to do and the moments we’ve been able to create in bringing DC’s first African-American family of super heroes to life for the culture.”
The decision to end the series may be why The CW put so many new Arrowverse shows into development. Besides Painkiller, the network and Berlanti are working Wonder Girl — a series based on the new Future State Wonder Woman — and, as we take pains to mention, a decision regarding Green Arrow and the Canaries never came to light. We think it is dead, but it may yet end up going to series.
At the same time, it is worth questioning why both Black Lightning and Supergirl, two shows inherently about diversity, are ending at the same time — especially when Superman & Lois is under fire for ignoring questions of diversity and firing a writer of color who voiced these concerns. All these events may be unrelated, of course. As we stated up top, Akil always saw Black Lightning as a shorter run. But the optics sure signal a change in direction for the network co-owned by ViacomCBS and AT&T.
Black Lightning‘s fourth and final season debuts February 8th on The CW.