Black Panther has completely opened the gates of African-American-led action movies after decades of being a subordination under white superhero action movies.
As we expect Marvel’s release of Black Panther next month, a movie centered on a young African king who doubles as a clawed, catsuit-clad crime fighter, CW and Netflix just unveiled the much-awaited Black Lightning last week and it will be on Netflix tomorrow. The movie focuses on an African-American teacher with electrical superpowers. Now throw in Netflix’s Luke Cage which was released in 2016 and you will have three African-American-led superhero titles in less than 2 years.
Guardian UK reports that the hero in the Black Lightning movie, Jefferson Pierce, played by Cress Williams, has the power to control electricity and shoot lightning bolts from his hands, but when the story begins he is in retirement as a school principal in the fictional city of Freeland. In an intense early scene, Pierce’s car is pulled over by white cops as he drives home with his two daughters. As they train their guns on him and give no reason, his eyes begin to glow blue as his rage builds and his powers charge up. When those daughters are abducted by a local gang – led by an albino African-American kingpin – Pierce steps back into costume.
“In a simplified sense, you could look at Jefferson Pierce as Martin Luther King and Black Lightning as Malcolm X. Non-violence is a great philosophy, and should always be the first resort, but sometimes you have to protect yourself. Sometimes you have to mess things up, be a little bit more active to get things done. The show hopefully poses that question,” Williams told Guardian.
Hopefully, this movie and many other movies to come will continue to star black super-heroes, stir conversation on race relations and ethnicity.