The CW is inundated with superhero shows now – that broody hooded archer that began it all, Arrow; run Barry run! on The Flash; up up and away with the Girl of Steel on Supergirl; and of course our favorite time-traveling misfits in Legends of Tomorrow, give us all a hero of one form or another to look forward to on nearly every day of the work week. Last night we welcomed the latest addition to the superhero family, Black Lightning, in all his electric glory!
So what do we know right off the bat? The show is based on a DC comic book series of the same name that began in 1977. The city of Freeland, where Black Lightning takes place, has a seriously bad gang problem. One gang in particular, calling themselves The 100 Gang, marches around dealing drugs and pulling guns without regard for innocents or the threat of cops. The cops seem at best ineffective and at worst corrupt, and the mostly-black community already has a well-deserved distrust of the police, clearly demonstrated when Jefferson gets pulled over and manhandled rather rudely by some, what else, white cops.
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is the principal of Garfield High, where his younger daughter Jennifer (China Ann McClain) attends, while his elder daughter Anissa (Nafessa Williams) is a nursing student by day and a political activist by whenever else she can get away with. It seems as though the pristine reputation Dad has at Garfield High and in Freeland in general is far too taxing for his youngest daughter, who angsts at being labeled the Queen of Garfield High and tries to prove how baller she really is by sneaking off to go clubbing at a place called The 100 Club, because that doesn’t sound blatant at all. But the wrong end of a dealer who owes a mid-level gangbanger called Lala (William Catlett), he insists on it, leaves Jennifer reeling and terrified.
Jefferson, meanwhile, is just trying to smooth his way back into his ex-wife’s good graces, and does seem to be getting somewhere with it too, when of course bold as a brass The 100 Gang pops into Garfield High and drags off both his daughters. Jeff’s-ex Lynn (Christine Adams) simply tells him to bring their girls home, and we see his well-defined jaw tighten as to the consequences of that kind of command.
See because, Jefferson has a deep black secret. Some nine years ago this former Olympic athlete took up the mantle of the superhero Black Lightning, for all sorts of noble reasons, but more or less primarily to clean up Freeland and make the place safe for his daughters again. But he kept coming home all banged up to hell and gone, his wife roundly informing him that his heroic antics are just another addiction, and finally insisting on a divorce. Thus, the hero Black Lightning hung up his mask and hasn’t been heard of in Freeland for nine whole years. Until now.
Most of us have seen Taken, right? Pierce certainly isn’t a man with spiffy CIA-like skills or anything, but what he does have is incredible meta-like powers over all kinds of electricity and things related to it, and has a serious mission to protect his ex-wife and daughters. So when his family gets caught up in the gang violence he thought had been curtailed with the defeat of Tobias Whale (Marvin ‘Krondon’ Jones III), notorious kingpin and Black Lightning’s main nemesis, Jeff has to grit his teeth and return to Gambi, the tailor front man who designed Lightning’s costume and was like Alfred to his Batman.
Of course Gambi’s been working on a new suit, and even as Jeff laments not wanting to go back into the superhero life again, Gambi (James Remar) reminds him it was only a matter of time anyways, and how not only does Jeff’s family need him, but the whole city of Freeland and perhaps the world, needs Black Lightning to return, perhaps now more than ever. And still Jeff struggles, knowing it was his difficulty with duality that led to his divorce and separation in the first place. But he’s going to need to come clean far sooner than anyone realizes, because it turns out, this whole meta-powers thing actually appears to be hereditary!
Nothing says, “I’m back bitches!” like a spiffy new suit and a good old fashioned motel brawl, during which Lightning dutifully avoids outright killing anyone. But oh does he revel in taking out his frustration physically on some scumbags that truly deserve it, as we all would. And that’s where Black Lightning truly shines.
Right now, the main target audience of the CW superhero shows have all gotten kind of tired of seeing the heroes journey from the very beginning, where he (or she) struggles with morals and ethics and powers and all that funnery. We are aging and tired and scared, for us and for our kids and our lives, and want nothing more than to be able to take back our streets and make them safe for any color, any kind of person. Black Lightning gives us all of that in the best way possible; any one of us could be Jefferson Pierce tomorrow, and how utterly badass would that be?
Chase the ‘Black Lightning’ on the CW, Tuesdays at 9/8c!
No Question Mark Box Here; Super Mario Delivers a 1-Up in Theaters
If you were born in the ’80s, ’90s, or literally ANY decade after those, you know about Super Mario. A cultural phenomenon was brought to life on the big screen this last weekend. One that has not only stood the test of time but reinvented itself time and time again. This wasn’t even the first time it’s been made into a movie but, well, let’s be honest.. some of us choose not to acknowledge the LIVE action adaptation of the beloved game from 30 years ago.
It was pretty bad… But this was animation. ILLUMINATION animation at that. The Universal company that brought us Gru and his Minions, showed us the Secret Life of Pets, and gave us a reason to SING! Still, I had my reservations and even some concerns, especially when the casting was announced.
Eyebrows were raised. As big of stars as they were on paper, could they really deliver on voicing characters from a staple of our childhood? They did.
Chris Pratt and Charlie Day may not be Italian, and Jack Black may not be a King or Turtle creature from the Mushroom Kingdom, but they make the characters their own all while paying homage to the lore of a video game.
From the jump, the story reintroduces us to the brothers that just want to save Brooklyn one clogged sink at a time. We feel an instant connection and relate to these “underdogs of the plumbing world”. The movie is riddled with easter eggs, each of which tugs on the heartstrings of every generation of Mario fandom. And the soundtrack was beautifully put together to not only make us feel like we’re taking a walkthrough of the game but like an experience all its own with some familiar favorites thrown in.
Every word in the movie is pure eye candy for both those that are casual fans, and those analyzing every frame to see what they’ll catch next. Bowser’s ship, the Mushroom Kingdom, Kong’s arena, and the Rainbow Road.. They’re all meant to give us just enough of a “new” look at these amazing worlds, but stay true to how we remember them.
The movie itself moves along at the perfect pace. Although, if you don’t really know ANYTHING about the Super Mario Bros, you may have gotten a little lost and felt left behind in the green tunnel. But that’s ok! It’s an adventure of the imagination and a classic story of a boy that meets a girl and tries to save the world from a monster that wants to destroy it.
What’s funny is that you could easily say this is a story about two characters who couldn’t be more opposite if they tried, battling to win the heart of a princess. Who would’ve thought that the King of the Koopas was just trying to impress his crush?
And that song? Ohhh THAT song! It’s my new ringtone and deserves the Oscar for Best Original Song.
Back to the movie.
Universal and Illumination clearly understood the assignment. Is it missing some things or could things have been done differently or even better? Absolutely! We’re the worst critics of the things we hold nearest and dearest to our hearts. But if you’re up for going on a 90-minute adventure through amazing worlds, with awesome music, and characters that’ll make you smile and laugh, then this is the perfect movie to spring you into that warm summer feeling.
Plus there’s the whole part with karts and shells, and banana peels and oh my goodness how amazing was that?? It’s enough to make you want to stand up and cheer, then go home and destroy your friends and family on your favorite track haha.
The bottom line, it pays homage in all the right ways to the little guy with the mustache, while giving us something new and exciting. Take the kids and go see Super Mario Bros. You’ll be glad you did!
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023
Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Opening Act Saturday, March 25 at 1:30 p.m. on North 200A. Talent confirmed so far to participate in the post-screening panel is Natalie Alyn Lind (Big Sky, The Goldbergs, Gotham) as Wonder Woman/Diana Prince and longtime RWBY cast member Lindsay Jones (Camp Camp) as Ruby, Kara Eberle ( RWBY: Ice Queendom) as Weiss, Arryn Zech (Detective Now Dead) as Blake and Barbara Dunkelman (Blood Fest) as Yang – along with Jeannie Tirado (Soul, Saints Row) as Green Lantern and Tru Valentino (The Rookie, The Cuphead Show!) as a cyborg. Also attending the panel will be producer/director Kerry Shawcross (series RWBY) and writer Meghan Fitzmartin (Supernatural, Justice Society: World War II).
Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment returns to WonderCon 2023 with the big screen debut from DC Animated Films: highlights this year include the world premieres of the highly anticipated Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham and Justice League x RWBY: Superheroes & Hunters Part One the weekend of March 24-26 in Anaheim, California. Both screenings will be followed by panel discussions with actors and creators. Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham premieres at The Arena on Friday, March 24 at 6 p.m. Tati Gabrielle (Kaleidoscope, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Uncharted) as Kai Li Cain, Christopher Gorham (The Lincoln Lawyer, Insatiable) as Oliver Queen, David Dastmalchian (Dune, Suicide Squad, Ant-Man) as Grendon, producer/co-director Sam Liu (The Death and the Return of Superman), co-director Christopher Berkeley (Young Justice) and screenwriter Jase Ricci (Teen Titans Go! and DC Super Hero Girls: Mayhem Across the Multiverse).
Both films will have encore screenings in the Arena on Sunday, March 26. Justice League x RWBY: Super Heroes & Huntsmen, Part One will screen at 12:15pm, followed by Batman: The Doom That Came To Gotham at 2:00pm