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    Black Lightning

    Character » Black Lightning appears in 898 issues.

    Jefferson Michael Pierce aka Black Lightning, is a teacher and former Olympic Gold Medal-winning athlete. He fights crime using his electrokinetic powers.

    LeVar Burton Talks About Voicing Black Lightning In Public Enemies

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    gmanfromheck

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    Edited By gmanfromheck

    No Caption Provided

    We're close to a month away from Superman/Batman: Public Enemies.  As you might already know, LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) is charging up his résumé by providing the voice of Black Lightning.  While Burton is largely known for playing Lt. Geordi, his career started in the mini series Roots.  Besides his physical roles (like Reading Rainbow), Burton has also done some voice acting.  He provided the voice of Kwame in Captain Planet and the Planeteers and also provided voices for Batman: The Animated Series, Gargoyles and Family Guy.
     
    Here's a Q & A with him about playing a super hero and how he tries to inspire others:
     
    No Caption Provided
    QUESTION:
    Was it difficult to settle on a voice for Black Lightning?

    LEVAR BURTON:
    I think everybody has a super hero that lives inside of them, so I
    just went to that place, that deep kind of super hero voice.


    QUESTION:
    What were your comic book habits as a kid?

    LEVAR BURTON:
    I grew up, part time, in Germany. My father was in the military, so we
    used to trade comic books for entertainment. On Saturdays, you took
    your box with all your comic books and you went around from apartment
    building to apartment building, trading comic books with the other
    American kids living on the base.  Television was in German
    (language), so we didn’t watch TV – we read comics. But this was
    before black super heroes came around – they didn’t start appearing
    until the '70s. So it's mildly exciting for me to actually have a
    chance to play a black super hero today.


    No Caption Provided
    QUESTION:
    Choose one: Batman or Superman?

    LEVAR BURTON:
    When I was a kid, it was always Batman over Superman. Batman had all
    the cool stuff, and he just had a vibe. Superman was the All-American
    guy but, with Batman, there’s a little something going on.  Batman’s
    history was a little edgier, and there was just something really
    attractive to me about the cowl. Superman is all out there, even
    though he does the Clark Kent thing, but Batman keeps his identity
    hidden.  He has this double life that’s very sexy, very attractive for
    a kid.  Not that I didn’t like Superman – the whole kryptonite thing
    is all well and good – but Batman was my guy.


    QUESTION:
    What makes comic books great literature?

    LEVAR BURTON:
    People ask me all the time, because I did Reading Rainbow on PBS for
    25 years, “How do I get my kids to read?”  And I say, “Find something
    that they’re passionate about.” If it’s comic books that they want to
    read, then buy them comic books, for goodness sakes.  Comic books are
    good literature and, like science fiction, they have a tendency to
    really draw us toward that part of ourselves that imagines that which
    we create.

    I'm one of those people that believes that there was some kid back in
    the 1960s watching Star Trek, and he kept seeing Captain Kirk pull out
    this communicator and flip it open – and  that kid grew up and became
    an engineer, a designer of products, and we now have a device that is
    more common than the toaster. How many flip phones do you see on a
    daily basis? That which we imagine is what we tend to manifest in
    third dimension –  that’s what human beings do, we are manifesting
    machines.  The metaphor of a man who has an external electronic
    device, something man-made that serves him and somehow serves
    humanity, and that he becomes so aligned with that device, with the
    power of that device, that at one point he can discard it – I think
    that’s a real metaphor for the human journey. One day we won’t need a
    transporter device to get from one place to another.  And it begins
    with the wheel and then migrates through airplanes to some future
    technology that we can’t produce yet but we can imagine.  Imagination
    is really the key part of the human journey, it’s the key to the
    process of manifesting what our heart's desire is.

    When I was a kid, it was comic books that pointed me in that direction
    and from comic books I went to science fiction literature, which is
    still one of my most favorite genres of literature to read.  Don’t
    underestimate the power of comics and what they represent for us and
    how they inform us on the journey of being human – because it’s
    powerful. It’s very powerful. They give us permission to contemplate
    what’s possible. And in this world, in this universe, there's nothing
    that is not possible.  If you can dream it, you can do it.


    QUESTION:
    Can you appreciate the passion of the sci-fi fan?

    LEVAR BURTON:
    Oh yeah. Because I am one. When I was a kid, I read a lot of science
    fiction books and it was rare for me to see heroes of color in the
    pages of those novels.  Gene Roddenberry had a vision of the future,
    and Star Trek was one that said to me, as a kid growing up in
    Sacramento, California, “When the future comes, there’s a place for
    you.”  I’ve said this many times, and Whoopi (Goldberg) feels the same
    way – seeing Nichelle Nichols on the bridge of the Enterprise meant
    that we are a part of the future.  So I was a huge fan of the original
    series and to have grown up and become of that mythos, a part of that
    family, and to represent people dealing with physical challenges, much
    like what Nichelle Nichols represented for people like Whoopi and
    myself, I can’t even begin to share with you what that means to me.
    It was just beyond the beyond.  So I get Star Trek fans, I get science
    fiction fans because, again, science fiction literature is that body
    of literature that causes us to ask what I feel are two of the most of
    the most powerful words – in sequence, in language – “what if?”  And
    that’s an open door, that’s an open door to use your imagination to
    dream and to dream the big dream.  As an actor, I dress up for a
    living and I get paid for it so, to see a guy come to a convention in
    his costume that he’s made – it’s a good thing, you know. This guy
    isn’t out there beating his wife or kicking his dog, he’s engaging in
    a healthy fantasy role-play.  I think too many grown ups forget how
    important that part of our lives are, the ability to imagine and to
    dream. So it’s all good.


    QUESTION:
    You’re Black Lightning for this film. If you could play any super hero
    role, do you have a role you covet?

    LEVAR BURTON:
    Well, I’ll start with Black Lightning.  That ain’t a bad place to
    start. I mean, come on, if you’re going to play a super hero, why not
    play the first real black super hero in the pantheon?  I'm good with
    that.


    QUESTION:
    Does voiceover work have any special appeal for you?

    LEVAR BURTON:
    I love voiceovers because, and I’m sure you hear this from actors all
    the time, but it’s kind of pure acting.  For many years on Next Gen, I
    wore this visor over my eyes and one of the things that I discovered
    was that it’s really difficult to communicate, or it’s harder to
    communicate, when you can’t see someone’s eyes. As a result of playing
    Geordi, I really do recognize how important the voice is – and what a
    facile tool for communication the voice can be. When I was kid, we
    listened to radio a lot for entertainment and I remember how vivid
    that was for me. To this day, I listen to NPR and I love doing audio
    books – because it’s like it’s pure storytelling. It’s sitting around
    the fire and sharing stories, really engaging your imagination. So, as
    an actor, sitting in front of a microphone and creating is just so
    much fun because it really does break it down to its most pure and
    elemental level.  It’s just you and the voice and the character
    telling a story.


    No Caption Provided
    QUESTION:
    Does it ever feel odd to be acting all alone?

    LEVAR BURTON:
    Well, during the physical parts of the voiceover, when you’re doing
    all the action scenes, I think if you were an alien and dropped into a
    recording studio and were observing a session, you would really wonder
    about the sanity of the beings that you are observing. But it’s fun
    and it feels a little silly, but that’s what gets it done.  When
    they’re in that mode, I think actors are just big kids – and we like
    playing in the sandbox.


    For more information, images and updates, please visit the film’s
    official website at www.SupermanBatmanDVD.com.
     


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    johnny_spam

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    #1  Edited By johnny_spam

    I think Keith David would have been a better choice for Black Lightning but I can't judge Burton yet till I've heard it. 
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    Hellos

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    #2  Edited By Hellos

    Woot!
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    Nahero

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    #3  Edited By Nahero

    oh yeah power girl is in that pic

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    Decept-O

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    #4  Edited By Decept-O

    Levar as Black Lightning:  "Read a book!  Zap! ".  Sorry.  I didn't realize he actually had such involvement and passion with both comics and Sci-Fi.  Again, great interview.  I envy the fact you get to interview and talk to all these great (for the most part) actors, writers, and artists.
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    LoganRogue24

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    #5  Edited By LoganRogue24

    Geordie Laforge is awesome Levar Burton is a legend both as a director and an actor can"t wait to see how he dose in the film.
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    Green ankh

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    #6  Edited By Green ankh

     
    I dont really care for BL or Burton but what i do like is when someone gets to do something they really like.  
     
    Like i liked Mcgann in his Dr Who and when offered to play him in the new who's he said no and he'd reather see some one who really wants to be the Doctor have a chance. I'd love to have seen him do it. But i respect him more for passing.
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    Static Shock

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    #7  Edited By Static Shock

    Man. This movie is going to be tight.

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    Sparda

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    #8  Edited By Sparda

    He seems like a cool guy. It's good that they got someone who appreciates comic-books to voice BL.

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    Ravn

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    #9  Edited By Ravn

    I like Levar Burton, I think he's a very smart man, a great actor, and in general just seems like a good human being. 

    However, I haven't heard him in action yet, but I just feel like he's not quite the voice I would expect for Black Lightning.... I don't know, I think he may be a little too soft-spoken....  @johnny spam:  but I also feel like Keith David would be too overpowering.... 
     
    But I remain optimistic that Burton will do a great job! I have great Admiration for, and confidence in Bruce Timm and Andrea Romano, so I'm sure if Andrea think Levar Burton can play Black Lightning, I trust her!! LOL

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    TheBug

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    #10  Edited By TheBug

    Black Lightning is Geordi Laforge? The awesomeness, it hurts!
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    inferiorego

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    #11  Edited By inferiorego  Staff

    Take a look, it's in a book. It's reading rainbow.  
     
    He is one of my favorite voice actors
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    MysterioMaximus

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    #12  Edited By MysterioMaximus

    Burton is awesome! Can't wait. =]
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    FoxxFireArt

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    #13  Edited By FoxxFireArt

    Yahhh, LeVar Burton!! Reading Rainbow!
     I'm so watching this.

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    King_Saturn

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    #14  Edited By King_Saturn
    Ha Ha Ha... Kunta Kinte is gonna voice Black Lightning
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    goldenkey

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    #15  Edited By goldenkey

    he'll be fine.  one of the best things does way way better then marvel is the voice acting they get for charcters
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    Crimson Thunder

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    #16  Edited By Crimson Thunder

    The movie just sounds better and better every time it's talked about. I wonder when they will make a Kingdom Come animated movie?

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    vance_astro

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    #17  Edited By vance_astro  Moderator
    @TheBug said:
    " Black Lightning is Geordi Laforge? The awesomeness, it hurts! "
    Black Lightning is Kunta Kinte.
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    NightFang3

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    #18  Edited By NightFang3

    This was a great interview and I love how Black Lighting looks.

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    Dr. Chaos

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    #19  Edited By Dr. Chaos

    Yay! Le Var from Reading Rainbow!!!! He's the best.

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    DH69

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    #20  Edited By DH69

    he's black, and his name is black lightning? wow...
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    ward04

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    #21  Edited By ward04
    @King Saturn said:
    "Ha Ha Ha... Kunta Kinte is gonna voice Black Lightning "

    haha now i got to watch it
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    MrMiracle77

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    #22  Edited By MrMiracle77

    Outstanding casting there.  B.L. is supposed to be Sec of Education during the events of "Public Enemies".  Who better to play him than a guy who is widely associated with educational television and reading?

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    Phorqe

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    #23  Edited By Phorqe

    This movie will be good as long as it ends with the Reading Rainbow song in the credits. I'm glad he got this gig. I've heard him do some other voice overs for documentaries. Should be good.

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    icemanrm56

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    #24  Edited By icemanrm56

    SWEET!!!!! just another reason why I need to see this
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    Media_Master

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    #25  Edited By Media_Master

    nice interview and public enemies now looks even more EPIC

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