May
19
2017

The refreshingly superheroic ‘Black Lightning’ trailer.

See, why can’t we get this in the DC movie universe?

I mean, look at the color palette, there.  Dude’s got a name like Black Lightning and there’s still more bright lighting in it than in the last three DC movies combined.  It also looks gratifyingly straightforward: retired superhero goes out again to clean up the streets. These are the good guys, those are the bad guys, and these are the electric bolts designed to ruin the bad guys’ day.  I’d watch that. Assuming that I ever catch up, of course.

Comes out midseason of Fall 2017, apparently.

11 Comments

  • Aetius451AD says:

    I have a couple thoughts on this.

    On the one hand, one thing that makes Superheroes heroes is moral certainty. It is something that Marvel has been able to capture in their movies and characterizations pretty well. The good guys may be unlikely, but they usually know who the bad guys and who the good guys are. Captain America is probably the best example of where this worked for Marvel. They managed to infuse the character with decency and chose an actor who could strike the right note with the Captain. Rectitude without prudishness. Fundamental decency. (as an aside, this is one of the many ways that DC has failed up to this point. Superman is the same fundamental character as Captain America. I enter Man of Steel as evidence for the prosecution.)

    One of the things DC has messed up in their movie offerings is that while you can have grey in the situation: The hero cannot go after the guy because he would be breaking laws, or the villain is sympathetic in some way, or there is some situation where in taking down the bad guy the hero accidentally hurts an innocent(s). The hero should always be a hero. Man of Steel was bad in many ways (characterization primarily) but one of the things that really rang false was the final fight. Superman does not try to get the fight away from civilians. He does not try to avoid incidental damage. He does not even seem to care that when he is throwing fools through buildings or throwing tanker cars that maybe this could cause civilian casualties. This is EXACTLY the wrong tack to take from a characterization standpoint with Superman. One of the few things that Superman Returns got RIGHT was that Superman is haunted, not by the bad guys, but by the people he was/is unable to save- because no matter how super he is, how fast he moves, he is still only one man who cannot be everywhere. This is because he is Clark Kent, a fundamentally decent guy from Kansas. He saves people because it is the right thing to do. Man of Steel did not make me think he really gave a crap.

    I think DC looks at the popularity of things like Game of Thrones or Walking Dead and thinks they can play the same game with Superheroes. You cannot. The superpowers make the need for moral clarity MORE important, not less. People want ideals, not vacuum.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      I’m largely down with that, not least because it explains why the movies have a better track record with Batman than with all the rest of the DCU: Batman is expected and understood to be grimly hanging on to his hero status, sometimes by the fingernails. You can do a movie about that without offending comic book fans, because they’re already on board with the characterization.

      • Patrick Thomas says:

        Compare that to if (please God no) they did the Cap as Hydra storyline on film.

    • Luke says:

      Eh…
      (Waggles hand).
      .
      Grey scale supers can work, and can work well. They don’t suit Superman, but
      Batman has been pretty darned grey his entire career.
      In the end, it’s about idealism, not a stark contrast between white and black. Batman will torture a mobster, or leave an assassin to starve to death, but he’s still striving after the ideal of protecting the innocent.
      .
      Red Hood and the Outlaws was one of the best New 52 DC series. It followed three badly flawed characters as they strove to support each other, redeem themselves, and make a positive difference in the world. The pasts of Arsenal, Red Hood, and Starfire were horrific. As individuals they were badly scarred by their histories. Their moral compasses were unreliable. Their associations were questionable at best. Their actions were much more avenger than protector.
      But they​ were superheros. And they never stopped aspiring.
      .
      Doom Patrol was infamously grimdark. And yet, it worked.
      .
      Deadpool is probably the most popular superhero comic character of the recent past. Yet he’s about as far from purity as it’s possible to get. He isn’t even idealistic. But it’s pretty undeniable that something about the character works and is found to be compelling by a significant audience.

      • Moe_Lane says:

        I think that the movie got Deadpool’s basic MO down: a bad man who does bad things to worse people. Which doesn’t make him safe, but nobody’s worrying about him going ballistic on a bunch of nuns carrying kittens.

        • Luke says:

          Of course not. I’m just fighting the generalization that all good superhero stories must be black and white.
          .
          😉 I freely admit that I identify more readily with a power fantasy of saying anything you want and killing anyone who deserves it than some more abstract ideal.
          .
          But that’s not to say that characters who function as a moral compass are unnecessary. It’s vital that they exist, or the setting get dystopian in a hurry.
          And trying to turn Superman, Dick Greyson, Captain America, or Spiderman into morally ambiguous characters is a betrayal of what those characters are, and what they mean to the setting and the other characters that revolve around them.

          • Aetius451AD says:

            I think we are all actually on the same page. Your point about more morally confused/ambiguous characters I think works better in a world where you have the more stark characters. It is a better contrast when someone is fighting to be a better person when you know the kind of example that they are trying to work towards.

            In the absence of that, you just have grey, grey everywhere. Deadpool works better when you have the Colossus character there as the personification of the superhero ideal- which you have established previously with other characters in that universe.

            DC is making a muddled mess.

  • Belcatar says:

    That show actually looks like something I’d watch, but at the same time,I suspect we’re approaching the saturation point for the genre.

    I wonder what the next trend will be. I’m hoping it will be some kind of fusion, so we’ll get live-action Shadowrun or Rifts. Or maybe, since the CG is so much better, some believable live-action mecha.

  • junior says:

    Looks interesting. The outfit reminds me of Static. That’s an interesting note because Static originally started out as a black superhero (in a comic book owned by a DC subsidiary), got popular due to a successful animated TV show, and was brought into the DC comic books as a result. Now we’ve got DC making a TV series about a black superhero, again with an electricity theme.

    The music makes me wonder if the decision to green-light this was spurred by the Luke Cage series.

    • Moe_Lane says:

      That, and the fact that the Black Panther movie looks like it’s going to be as huge as the rest of the MCU, and the general way that the MCU is getting good market penetration into the African-American demographic without losing anything among the white demographic.

      • acat says:

        Maybe it’s just one cat’s experience, but .. this feels a little like identify-by-culture vs identify-by-melanin-content…
        .
        Mew

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