Fox Rejects ‘Black Lightning,’ But CW Wants It

By February 3, 2017

When it comes to the DC Comics television universe, Greg Berlanti might not have to split his time between The CW and Fox after all.

Fox has apparently taken a pass from ordering a pilot for the DC comic adaptation Black Lightning, according to Deadline‘s Nellie Andreeva. And now The CW seems quite interested in adding one of comics’ first major African-American superheroes to its already crowded lineup that includes The FlashArrow and Legends of Tomorrow.

This is a swift turnaround for the project, which was shopped to other networks by Warner Bros. Television immediately after Fox opted not to go to pilot, with The CW emerging as the likely new home. I hear Fox brass ultimately decided that the superhero show was not a good fit into its already crowded genre drama space.

That space, according to Andreeva, includes Gotham and Lucifer from the DC library already, as well as a space dramedy from Family Guy creator Seth MacFarlane. Plus, Fox has its eye on a Marvel property that takes place in the X-Men universe the network’s parent company currently holds the rights to.

The CW, however, would have to find a way to make Black Lightning fit into what is already a crowded schedule that gets just 10 hours of primetime space each week.

The character was created by Tony Isabella and Trevor Von Eeden, and first appeared in his own comic series in 1977. The comics, at least, are set in Superman’s adopted city of Metropolis, where an Olympic gold medal-winning decathlete returns home only to find that his old neighborhood – Suicide Slum – has been ravaged by a gang.

Berlanti, who already runs the DC television universe for The CW, was developing Black Lightning with Mara Brock Akil and Salim Akil, the husband-and-wife team who developed The Game.

Created by Mara Brock Akil, it originally aired on The CW starting in 2006, but was resurrected by BET in 2011.

If The CW were to order a pilot and then pick the show up for series, Black Lightning would be just the second superhero show to have an African-American lead following Netflix’s Luke Cage. However, it also would be the fifth DC show on The CW, along with Supergirl, which would essentially put half of The CW’s schedule in the hands of Warner Bros. and DC.

This would become the first live-action version of Black Lightning, a character who has appeared in a number of animation projects in both television and film in the past. He’s been voiced by both Emmy-nominated actor LeVar Burton and Quantico star Blair Underwood.

The CW could make a decision in a matter of days whether to order the pilot, and if they do, casting will begin soon after.

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Michael Hinman

Michael Hinman

Managing Editor at GeekNation
Michael began what has become nearly 19 years of entertainment reporting as the founder of SyFy Portal, which would become Airlock Alpha after he sold the SyFy brand to NBC Universal. He's based out of New York City where he is the editor of a Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper in the Bronx.
  • John Ikarus

    Race or gender doesn’t matter. Only the acting and writing matters.