• Network: The CW
  • Series Premiere Date: Jan 16, 2018
Metascore
79

Generally favorable reviews - based on 25 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 25
  2. Negative: 0 out of 25

Where To Watch

Stream On

Critic Reviews

  1. Reviewed by: Allison Keene
    Jan 4, 2018
    100
    It’s positive, it’s victorious, it’s complicated, and it’s badass.
  2. Reviewed by: Dana Schwartz
    Jan 16, 2018
    91
    The Pierce family dynamic is so compelling that even if Jefferson Pierce had no powers beyond great motivational speeches, this show would be a worthwhile watch. Black Lightning balances humor with all-too-necessary social commentary (why are white masked crime-fighters “heroes” when Black Lightning is called a vigilante?) to make a refreshing addition to the superhero TV pantheon.
  3. Reviewed by: Ed Bark
    Jan 16, 2018
    83
    [Cress Williams] delivers the goods in Black Lightning as a title character of steely intent whose vulnerabilities are also a major part of his makeup. Are his powers a curse or, as he prefers to see them, a “blessing from God?” However things turn out, it’s already quite electrifying.
  4. Reviewed by: Mark A. Perigard
    Jan 16, 2018
    83
    Not nearly as bright as “Supergirl,” as angst-ridden as “Arrow” or as campy as “The Flash,” “Black Lightning” lights its own path--by being a story about the debt we owe to our community and the importance of inspiration.
  5. Reviewed by: Danette Chavez
    Jan 16, 2018
    83
    The Akils have added an exciting new entry to the superhero genre, one that quickly strikes a balance between its light and heavy storytelling. And they’ve found a truly compelling lead in Williams, while keeping an eye on the future (and franchising) with its younger stars.
  6. Reviewed by: Terry Terrones
    Jan 16, 2018
    83
    Jefferson Pierce isn't just a superhero. He's a social justice warrior. He quotes Martin Luther King Jr. AND beats up bad guys. This instantly makes him one of the most interesting heroes on television.
  7. Reviewed by: Ira Madison III
    Jan 17, 2018
    80
    The series juggles police brutality, systemic racism, black youth culture, gang violence, and black parenting with aplomb, and all topics feel entirely new to The CW but also necessary for the network, where it can be paired with an equally pulpy series like Riverdale.
  8. Reviewed by: Melanie McFarland
    Jan 16, 2018
    80
    Ultimately, though, “Black Lightning” fulfills its most important role of providing fun escapism that stands out in a genre flirting with the upper limit of saturation. Part of the credit for that is due to Williams’ charisma and the winning dynamic displayed between his character and Adams’ Lynn, in addition to the strong familial chemistry they have with Williams and McClain as their daughters.
  9. Reviewed by: Lorraine Ali
    Jan 16, 2018
    80
    Black Lightning successfully walks the line between advocacy and entertainment thanks to deft storytelling and a sense of when to be obvious and when to pull back.
  10. Reviewed by: Ken Tucker
    Jan 16, 2018
    80
    Lightning is distinguished by its instantly distinctive blend of social realism and sense of humor--it is simultaneously the most relevant and the funniest of The CW/DC Comics shows.
  11. Reviewed by: Dan Fienberg
    Jan 16, 2018
    80
    Black Lightning, based on yet another DC Comics property, is smart and relevant and full of an attitude that's all its own. It takes its characters and their world seriously, but thus far doesn't take itself too seriously. And, best of all, it's ostensibly entirely separate from Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl, so the risk of time-consuming crossovers or key plot points delivered on a different show is currently nil.
  12. Reviewed by: Jen Chaney
    Jan 16, 2018
    80
    Like every superhero show, Black Lightning delivers energizing fight sequences and intriguing nemeses that our protagonist must confront. But as developed by husband-and-wife producing team Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil (Being Mary Jane), alongside co-producers and Arrow-verse veterans Greg Berlanti and Sarah Schechter, it is more organically substantive than much film and TV comic-book fare. It’s also deeply aware of its black popular-culture roots, with a soundtrack that swings from hip-hop to Nina Simone to ’70s soul.
  13. Reviewed by: Hank Stuever
    Jan 16, 2018
    80
    The show is a fine example of what television might look like once we move past the more ceremonial aspects of diversity. This is a black show on a network filled with white superheroes, and it displays no insecurity or self-consciousness about that. It feels strong and confident, at least in the first two episodes.
  14. Reviewed by: Alan Sepinwall
    Jan 16, 2018
    80
    The series doesn’t always tackle these ideas gracefully--or, at least, subtly: its fictional city is called Freeland. But the canvas the Akils are painting on feels much richer for looking beyond basic good vs evil, time travel, doppelgangers, and all the other tropes of the genre. ... But it’s a promising start, and a long-overdue showcase for Williams.
  15. Reviewed by: James Poniewozik
    Jan 16, 2018
    80
    This show’s race-forward sensibility and its older protagonist, conflicted about getting back into the game, give Black Lightning its spark.
  16. Reviewed by: Eric Joseph
    Jan 8, 2018
    80
    To its credit, this young series has done a phenomenal job of finding its footing with the first two episodes, and trust me, it’s the second that’ll really hook you. Capable of warming hearts just as The Flash does while being more similar in tone to Arrow, Black Lightning stands as one of the more sophisticated additions to the DC TV landscape.
  17. Reviewed by: Jeff Korbelik
    Jan 29, 2018
    75
    The main storyline involves a nefarious crime lord, played by Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, whose gang, The 100, is terrifying the city, but it's Black Lightning’s journey into social issues--the character quotes Martin Luther King Jr. at one point in the premiere--that separates him from the rest of the superhero pack.
  18. Reviewed by: Steve Greene
    Jan 16, 2018
    75
    As Black Lightning gradually veers away from flashbacks and dwelling in these characters’ pasts to filling in what we never got to see, the present offers some exciting opportunities.
  19. Reviewed by: Kelly Lawler
    Jan 16, 2018
    75
    The series' tone ably walks a fine line between being relevant and pedantic. Its themes are a bit heavy for a superhero show, but it still features fun, dazzling action sequences. The show makes great use of light and dark visuals and vividly brings Jefferson's powers to life.
  20. Reviewed by: Verne Gay
    Jan 12, 2018
    75
    The pilot’s tropes are overly familiar, the action sequences predictable. But this is absolutely a welcome addition, potentially a valuable one, and indisputably a long overdue one.
  21. Reviewed by: Robert Rorke
    Jan 8, 2018
    75
    An entertaining, edgy piece of escapism that adds some much-needed diversity to the network’s lineup of white-bread soap operas.
  22. Reviewed by: Troy Patterson
    Mar 30, 2018
    70
    The violence does not rank as gratuitous because, as an action show, Black Lightning very much needs it. The hero’s own fight scenes can feel restrained, even cramped, perhaps because he devotes a lot of energy to anguishing about violence begetting further violence, and also to fretting that his return to duty will jeopardize a chance to reconcile with his ex-wife.
  23. Reviewed by: Brian Lowry
    Jan 17, 2018
    70
    Despite a somewhat slow pace at the outset, the show steadily builds a promising framework, throwing off some sparks, without quite catching you-know-what in a bottle.
  24. Reviewed by: Sonia Saraiya
    Jan 16, 2018
    70
    Better late than never; Black Lightning--with its promise of Anissa becoming Thunder in short order--is a good, satisfying, layered addition to the CW canon.
  25. TV Guide Magazine
    Reviewed by: Matt Roush
    Jan 4, 2018
    60
    While Lightning may sound like campy blaxploitation, it's no joke. [8-21 Jan 2018, p.13]
User Score
5.1

Mixed or average reviews- based on 177 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 79 out of 177
  2. Negative: 73 out of 177
  1. Jan 18, 2018
    3
    So all white cops are a**holes. Forget serve and protect if you're a white cop. You can make a "black" superhero show without jamming theSo all white cops are a**holes. Forget serve and protect if you're a white cop. You can make a "black" superhero show without jamming the perils of racism down peoples throats. Watch Luke Cage instead of this garbage. Oh yeah, it's okay to be white. Full Review »
  2. Jan 17, 2018
    0
    Summary of the first episode:
    90% bashing white people for persecuting blacks, whites this, whitey that, quote from the episode "all black
    Summary of the first episode:
    90% bashing white people for persecuting blacks, whites this, whitey that, quote from the episode "all black people are victims", we get a white racist cop brutality scene beating a black guy....
    What else happened in the pilot.... uhhhhh.....
    Oh, yeah.... at the end of the episode the main character has some sparks show on his eyes for a second.

    End credits.
    Watching this was a waste of my time and a waste of internet bandwidth.
    Full Review »
  3. Jan 17, 2018
    0
    Don't be fooled by the 80/100 "official" score. No official outlet would dare give this less than 50% for obvious reasons.