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Black Lightning May Be In The Arrowverse After All

After all of those denials, could Black Lightning strike the Arrowverse after all?

When Black Lightning was originally announced on the CW, it was assumed that — like The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl — the series would be taking place in the shared world of the Arrowverse, which kicked off with Arrow in 2012.

Producers of the show, however, were quick to correct the record by pointing out that their program would be a separate entity from the Arrowverse, having originally been developed at Fox with no intention of crossing over into other shows. (Fox also airs the TV series Gotham, while Syfy is set to begin airing Krypton, both of which are separate from the Arrowverse despite being DC Comics properties.) 

As the show developed at the CW, producers continued to emphasize the separation between Black Lightning and its neighbors in the press. Despite this, across nine of the 13 episodes that have been released so far from Black Lightning's first season, references to the other heroes in the Arrowverse have kept cropping up. We're not calling anybody a liar, but... something's fishy here.

By the series' third episode, "Lawanda: The Book of Burial", characters on Black Lightning were referring to Supergirl with familiarity. Now it's happened again in the series' ninth episode, "The Book of Little Black Lies", which included references in dialogue to the Arrowverse characters Vixen and Supergirl both.

The particulars of the conversations don't matter so much as the fact that these names are comfortably in the characters' lexicon, which seems to fly in the face of the promise that Black Lightning would be, in the words of no less than the CW's president, "a separate situation".

So what gives? Considering that the Arrowverse has already established a whole panoply of alternate dimensions and worlds, with room for many diverse versions of planet Earth and its peoples, there's a number of things that could be going on here.

It's possible that Jefferson, Jennifer, Anissa and all live on a world where Supergirl exists, but not "our" Supergirl from Earth-38. The only problem with that possibility is, if that were the case, they would still technically be in the Arrowverse, where dimensional barriers are pretty porous. The only thing separating them from the Flash is a wrong left turn from the Scarlet Speedster. 

With these repeated name drops in mind, could the series really be preparing for a jump into the Arrowverse? Considering the success of previous crossovers on the CW, it'd be silly if they weren't at least thinking about it. 

It wouldn't be the first time that a series meant to stand outside of the Arrowverse was later grandfathered in. As pointed out in an article on ScreenCrush, NBC's one-season Constantine was also meant to stand outside the Arrowverse — and guess who's joining the cast Legends of Tomorrow if it's renewed for season four?

Of course, this could all just be an accident. If the production of Black Lightning really is that separate from the Arrowverse, it's possible that these references are just an oversight. Either way, there's no official word yet on whether the series' status has been changed — all we have to go on for now are these mentions in the show itself.

With that in mind, there's no guarantee that we're on the way to a Black Lightning/Supergirl/Atom team-up against, oh, a revived Savitar. There are other, real-world factors that would seem to complicate the possibility of Black Lightning's involvement in a big event crossover, such as the fact that Black Lightning films in Atlanta, while the four Arrowverse shows stage their base of operations in Vancouver. Seems like that sort of distance would cause pain for a lot of productions, making the whole thing a lot less easy, if not less likely.

This is all we know, for now. Til then, keep watching the series, and we'll keep our eye on the news. 

The first season of Black Lightning airs new episodes on Tuesdays at 9/8c on the CW.