Will Black Lightning Join the Arrowverse? Cress Williams Had Some Thoughts at Comic-Con

Black Lightning zapping some enemies.
Image: The CW

For as long as Black Lightning’s been airing on the CW, it’s been kept separate from the network’s other DC cape shows despite the fact that the annual crossovers are a big part of what gets people hyped up to watch them every year. During the Black Lightning panel at San Diego Comic-Con this year, the topic came up once again and Black Lightning himself had some thoughts to share.

While nothing’s been set in stone or announced, Cress Williams said that after some of the talks he’s heard about future plans, he “wouldn’t be surprised” if Black Lightning, Lightning, and Thunder ended up crossing paths with the likes of Team Arrow & Co. at some point in the future.

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Given that Crisis On Infinite Earths (as in literally all possible Earths) is the Arrowverse’s next big tentpole special, it would make all the sense in the world for the event to—at the very least—open a pathway for Black Lightning to finally bump shoulders with the other heroes that dominate the CW.

Williams’ comments come at a time when Black Lightning’s world is becoming bigger and arguably more larger than life by superhero genre standards, with a new arc about the nation of Markovia and its plans to build an army of metahumans similar to the ones created in Freeland. Between the arrival of the Markovians and Tobias Whale’s designs on building an metahuman trafficking business, it’s hard not to see Black Lightning’s genre elements beginning to cleave closer to other series like Young Justice: Outsiders—ones with larger-scale stakes with the potential to impact the entire country. Just take a look at the sizzle reel shown during the panel.

Of course, Black Lightning’s always been a show about about the Black Lightning family first and a show about superheroics second, which Nafessa Williams (who plays Anissa Pierce, a.k.a. Thunder) was careful to reiterate again during the panel:

“It’s not until you see us in a battle or in a situation where we’re either trying to save ourselves or our community that you realize we’re superheroes. It’s not until you see us in these costumes that it reminds you that [Black Lightning’s] really a show about community first.”

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Aside from its literal removedness from the Arrowverse, the time Black Lightning’s spent establishing the complicated relationship that its heroes have with the community they’ve dedicated themselves to protecting has been one of the biggest things setting it apart from the CW’s other cape offerings. While the Legends have been playing around with stuffed animal gods, and Team Arrow’s been mucking around with time travel, Black Lightning’s spent its time exploring ideas more grounded in reality, like how a black superhero’s race factors into their interactions with the police.

The show has also tackled plots about the needs of underserved communities going unmet because of systemic, institutional forces that a superhero can’t just punch away. While that might not sound flashy, it’s an interesting way of challenging audiences to broaden their understandings of what heroes can fight for and how they can do it and, because this is still a CW superhero show, it’s all topped off with people in wild costumes throwing energy beams at one another.

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As tonally different as Black Lightning can sometimes be compared to the CW’s other series, they’re not so disparate that a crossover would somehow not make sense After two seasons, Black Lightning’s built up a solid foundation of heroes and villains battling it out in ways befitting of a show that’s been at the center of its own universe. But now that the show’s beginning to move into an even more action-packed, fantastical realm, it feels like Black Lightning might finally get an invite to the big bash all the CW’s other heroes have been partying at for years.


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About the author

Charles Pulliam-Moore

io9 Culture Critic and Staff Writer. Cyclops was right.