Black Lightning & Black Panther, Leading the Way for Superhero Representation

Lauren Gallaway

At WonderCon, FANDOM caught up with the writers and executive producer of Black Lightning. Salim Akil, Lamont Magee, and Pat Charles all shared their thoughts on how Black Lightning is increasing black representation in the superhero genre. This lead to a discussion on how similarly Black Lightning & Black Panther are leading the charge for diversity in superhero representation on both television and film. Let’s jump into their comments.

Significance of Black Lightning

Showrunner and series co-creator Salim Akil praised the success of Black Panther, as well as the relevance of his own show: “It’s fantastic. What I find even more interesting is if you look at Black Panther and Black Lightning, how relevant they are to society today. I think that they are connecting because they are relevant.”

Writer Lamont Magee also shared that he has seen Black Panther six times. As for Black Lightning, “It is the best show for me to work on because I grew up in a bad neighborhood watching superhero shows and now I get to do it for the next generation of kids who are dreaming about better circumstances.”

Pat Charles echoed this sentiment, “He’s an African American superhero. I’ve always liked comic books, but there have been very few comic books where I could see myself… the opportunity to work on a superhero that reflected me is what attracted me to the show.”

Significance of Black Panther

Black Panther is currently getting all the credit for shifting the superhero landscape, especially since its a Marvel Studios film and a box office breakout. Interestingly, Black Lightning is achieving the same kind of impact — more so if you include the LGBTQ representation on the show — but its getting significantly less buzz because TV always has a smaller audience than film.

Still, its important for shows like Black Lightning to be included in superhero line ups like Arrow, Supergirl, The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. While each of those shows have different levels of diversity, Black Lighting is the only superhero show to feature an all black cast.

Backed with a predominantly black writing and producing staff, as the gentlemen mentioned above, and The CW has a truly significant show on their hands. Thankfully Black Lightning has been renewed for a second season, which means we’ll get more relevant, diverse, and impactful black superhero stories in the future.

Black Lightning & Black Panther are both currently airing on The CW and in theaters, respectively.

Lauren Gallaway
TV editor at FANDOM. Creator of The Marvel Report. Journalist, Comic-Con reporter, Podcaster.
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