Is Black Lightning worth watching

"Black Lightning": Too much template, too little action

For a year and a half, Netflix has had "Marvel's Luke Cage" in its program - a series with a black superhero who skillfully deals with racism, but above all comes across as a damn cool sock. "Black Lightning", which can be found on The CW in the USA and is said to give the streaming service Netflix new superpowers in this country, has recently been slamming into this notch. Unfortunately, the series shows all those weaknesses that "Luke Cage" successfully avoided.

The twist is a nice one at the beginning: "Black Lightning", whose real name is Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams), is the headmaster of a high school and the father of two daughters who go to that school. He has led a modest and quiet life with his family for nine years. However, these nine years ago he had a slightly more specialized job: As Black Lightning, you could see him as a mixture of Iron Man and Batman, since he built his own superhero armor, he fought the bad guys of the city. For family reasons he stopped doing it - and is now starting again with the same intention.

More precisely, he is digging out his old armor because the local gang “100” has slowly but surely gained the upper hand over his city. The direct threat to his daughters ultimately ensures that he returns from his retirement. This scenario sounds like a typical superhero storyline - but it actually gets a lot worse.

"Luke Cage" is based on the same building blocks, but has expanded the not very innovative basic structure in such a way that a unique story was not even necessary to provide an entertaining viewing experience. "Black Lightning" also takes these building blocks, but provides them with two elements above all: stereotypes and clichés.

It takes less than five minutes for the series to provide the first example: Jefferson Pierce picks up his daughter from a demonstration that involves speaking out loudly against the black gangs in the area. On the way home they are stopped by the police and taken directly to the mangle. A loud discussion ensues, and when the daughter pulls out the cell phone to film this injustice, Dad yells at her to stop. Unimpressed by this, the white policeman clicks the handcuffs and pulls the former superhero to his car. An elderly lady is waiting for him there to identify him. She shakes her head, he is released again. As it turns out shortly afterwards, someone is wanted who has robbed a shop. Why the suit-wearing and Volvo-driving Mr. Pierce was controlled by force for this is not explained. Not even later.

This scene should only make it clear which tone "Black Lightning" will aim for for the rest of the running time. Black against white, white against black - and in between Black Lightning as a kind of moral apostle. It couldn't be more stereotyped. Now, of course, one can praise the fact that the series picks up on a current political debate that is being carried out in the USA. The problem, however, is that "Black Lightning" does not offer any solutions for the racism mentioned, which is abundant in the real world. In the end, one could almost get the impression that the opposites should be accelerated. The black superhero doesn't change that either.

Of course, it can be argued that political and social education should be obtained from somewhere else and not from a superhero who calls himself Black Lightning. At this point, however, we must also appeal to the sense of responsibility of the series makers, who miss the chance to skillfully incorporate a serious topic into the heroic story through the woodcut-like representation. Because the entertainment value is at best included in the lower average, viewers should rather look for the action of the old superhero school somewhere else. "Luke Cage" shows how it can be done better.

"Black Lightning" will now be broadcast weekly on Netflix