Once again, we travel to the recesses of my imagination and wonder, what if they where to let me make a movie with the comic characters of my choice? Yes, I to can hear Hollywood giving a collective GASP of horror! Well, this time, my choice is BLACK LIGHTNING!
The hardest thing about casting this film was finding the images. Only three of the eight major characters have images illustrating their comic book appearance. The main reason for this is that I just could NOT find any. So for that, I apologize. In the future, that should not be quite as much a problem. Now that that is out of the way, let’s get up on the Comic Casting Couch!
Jefferson Pierce, an ex-NFL football player turned educator, is offered the chance to return home to the Suicide Slum district of Metropolis and become the principle of his childhood high school, Garfield High School, aka Suicide High. While adjusting to life at his new position and life Pierce discovers that a local street gang, El Ciento, have infested his childhood stomping grounds and have a strangle hold on the school. When a promising young student is killed, and Pierce himself is severally beaten, his fatherâ€™s childhood friend, Peter Gambi, gives him a belt and costume that he had once designed for the military use. Using these new weapons, Jefferson Pierce adopts the identity of Black Lightning and sets out to bring El Ciento down and to harpoon The Whale.
Jefferson Pierce/ Black Lighting
Black Lightning is one of those iconic characters some creators respect, and others just use for diversity. Giving him his own movie would show the public that there are good, positive role model African-American heroes out there. Giving him an pro-sports background with a degree in Literature shows options. When casting, the mind instantly goes to the big name actors, but I like a challenge. For my big screen Black Lightning I chose Terrence C. Carson. Doesnâ€™t ring a bell? Well, besides a long career on the stage, he was Kyle for 4 seasons of Living Single. But wait, he has fan-boy connections, because he provides the voice of Mace Windu in the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series and a multitude of video games and cartoons. Shave his head and let him wear a mask and wig as B.L. Also, he has an amazing voice. As Black Lightning, he would drop and harden his voice and use ghetto slang, and as Jefferson Pierce, he would let his voice go a little softer and natural.
The father of Jefferson Pierce and childhood friend of Peter Gambi, he would still need to be an active old man, a crusading reporter who was in the middle of the Civil Rights movement. After his son is beaten and hospitalized by El Ciento, he begins and investigation for a possible exposeâ€™ and return to journalism. By the end of the movie, he will have been by The Whale, but his words of wisdom stay by Jefferson as he stands his ground against the criminals. An older actor is needed, with serious acting chops. I like veteran singer/actor Harry Belafonte in this role. His death would be a major turning point that convinces his son that he cannot just runaway from his problems.
Lynn Stewart Pierce
I am not sure how much page time the ex-wife of Black Lightning received in the DCU. But for our purposes, we want a woman who has been used to the good things, but has accepted a step down in station for the love of her husband. This would be a small role, and other than a sounding board for Jefferson Pierceâ€™s problems, she would not have a large role till towards the end of the movie, when, after the death of his father, she tries to take Pierceâ€™s daughter and leave. Jill Marie Jones of the television show Girlfriends can fit this bill and have the right attitude
Another role that would not have loads of screen time, but would be used mainly to strike home the messages of the importance of family, young Annisa needs to be smart and spunky.Â Willow Smith (I Am Legend, Kitt Kitridge:American Girl), daughter of Will Smith, would play the role to a Q-T.
As the promising young Honor Student who gets Jefferson Pierceâ€™s heroes journey going, a smart, intelligent, slightly self-deprecating young man needs to take the role. George O. Gore II (My Wife and Kids, New York Undercover) can do it, assuming that he wants to take on the role of a teen. Since Principle Pierce will be beaten while trying to save Earl Clifford from being made an example of, he is a major part of the story. He needs to be likable from the get-go.
The crazy old white scientist, and best friend to Alvin Pierce, is a little eccentric, but a brilliant eccentric. It will be his mind that creates the Electro-Magnification Belt and accompanying Personal Insulation Suit, and he will also be the one who reminds Jefferson of his duties as a son and father when things look the darkest. Iâ€™m listening for a voice and a face here, and in my mind, the voice and face of Henry Winkler fits the bill well.
We will skip right over the male version of Syonide and go right to the female. I see her as a right hand to Tobias Whale who uses syringes filled with cyanide to kill her prey, often stabbing them in the back while in a sultry embrace. Earl Clifford will die at her hands, and she will be the last face the Jefferson Pierce sees before he goes unconscious from his own beating. Casting this is not to hard: we want woman who can pass as a cold killer while at the same time adding the prerequisite eye candy to the film. Morena Baccarin, of Firefly and Stargate SG-1 fame, could fill out the role of a seductive assassin very well.
I actually considered going with the Justice League Unlimited version of the Whale, known as Stephen Mandragora, but decided against it. Also, as much as I enjoyed Michal Duncan Clark as the Kingpin, I want to go with a more comic book look for the Whale. CGI, heavy prosthetics and a lot of white make-up will help bring this albino gangster to life. But we still need a big guy to play under the stuff. Although Tommy â€œTinyâ€ Lister (Posse, The Dark Knight) is a little short for my Tobias Whale (Lister is 6 foot 5 inches), so some lifts and a large prosthetic making him appear to have no neck will be needed. Â This is the man who literally crushes Alvin Pierceâ€™s body with his bare hands. He needs to be fearsome.
THATâ€™S A WRAP!
As with my first Comic Casting Couch effort, Black Lighting can be used to bring in whole new audience to the comics. Re-release the original series in an affordable format (Showcase Presents?), and a heavy marketing campaign and you got a winner. Hype up the first African-American superhero to headline a DC Comic, and you got something that really makes people wonder. I would keep the track suit at first, before Gambi gives him the belt and suit, and the old white mask with the Afro is a definite keeper for his first outing. After he receives the belt and suit (yes, I want to go back to the original gadget origin) have Gambi present him with the insulated suit that covers his head, maybe with some fake dreads coming out the back in a pony tail. Impractical, yes, but also cool. With Tobias Whale, keep the purple suit and the un-proportioned build. This will help set the character apart from the other â€œfatâ€ crime boss.Â Syonide should wear a lot of leather and lace, but not the dominatrix type stuff. I just have this image of Black Lighting standing over Tobias Whale, about to deliver the electrically enhanced knockout punch, saying, â€œCall me Ishmale, (censored)!â€
Now I have a request of you, dear reader. I want you to help me decide who should be the focus of the next Comic Casting Couch. Click the link below to be taken to a forum poll that will give you the choice of one of 5 heroes to be featured in the next installment. Vote for your favorite, and feel free to voice you opinions on why they need to be the one. Keep in mind, I already have pretty definite ideas for the details on all 5 choices, so don’t feel bad if your favorite is picked but I cast a different actor or use a different plot. Tell you friends to come over and vote as well. The more the merrier!