The CW’s DC Comics small screen maestro Greg Berlanti has teamed up with the husband-wife creative duo of Mara Brock Akil and husband Salim Akil to bring us the Black Lightning TV show.
The Akils come to the table with valuable dramatic experience writing and producing African-American-centric shows such as Being Mary Jane, The Game, Girlfriends, and Soul Food. The collaboration – which sees the Akils as executive producers alongside Berlanti and Sarah Schechter – finally has DC Comics’ very first headlining black superhero Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lightning, making his way to live action.
Black Lightning Episode Guide
Here’s our complete episode guide for Black Lightning. Hit the blue links for our reviews!
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a man wrestling with a secret. As the father of Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Ann McClain), and principal of a charter high school that also serves as a safe-haven for young people in a neighborhood overrun by gang violence, he is a hero in his community. Nine years ago, Pierce was a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he used those powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning, but he left the Superhero days behind. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind him…or so he thought.
air date: 1/16/18
As the community struggles with the violence surrounding them, a glimmer of hope appears: Is Black Lightning (Cress Williams) back? Lynn Stewart (Christine Adams), noticing the changes in the community, is also left wondering. While Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) struggles with his decision, Gambi (James Remar) urges him to take up the mantle once more and return to life as Black Lightning. Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) try to deal with the aftermath of their jolting experience. Damon Gupton and Marvin Jones III also star.
air date: 1/23/18
As Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) tries to determine if the community can survive without the help of Black Lightning (Cress Williams), Anissa (Nafessa Williams) starts to come into her own. Meanwhile, Jefferson and Lynn (Christine Adams) try and figure out their new dynamic. Finally, Jennifer (China Anne McClain) reveals to her parents that she has been grappling with something big. James Remar, Damon Gupton and Marvin Jones III also star.
air date: 1/30/18
Black Lightning (Cress Williams) is recruited to rally against The 100 gang. Anissa (Nafessa Williams) investigates the new drug hitting the streets. Meanwhile, familiar faces begin to reappear.
air date: 2/6/18
An unexpected phone call unearths the long-buried need for Jefferson (Cress Williams) to investigate the murder of his father. Meanwhile, Annisa (Nafessa Williams) wrestles with the fact that her actions have dire consequences. Lastly, Jennifer (China Anne McClain) learns the importance of controlling her temper – in all situations.
air date: 2/13/18
Jefferson (Cress Williams) is on the hunt for his father’s killer, while Anissa (Nafessa Williams) uses her new powers to rectify a wrong after a protest fails. Jennifer (China Anne McClain) grapples with some difficult choices. Elsewhere, Gambi (James Remar) begs for help from Lynn (Christine Adams). Damon Gupton and Marvin Jones III also star.
air date: 2/27/18
Black Lightning’s (Cress Williams) pursuit for Tobias (Marvin Jones III) continues. Anissa (Nafessa Williams) continues to find herself in the new normal.
air date: 3/6/18
Black Lightning (Cress Williams) works with Anissa (Nafessa Willaims) to help find information to clear Black Lightning’s name. Jennifer (China Anne McClain) begins interning for Lynn (Christine Adams). Meanwhile, Gambi (James Remar) finds himself in a precarious situation.
air date: 3/13/18
In the aftermath of the latest killing, Black Lightning works to clear his name while also hunting down the person responsible for his father’s death, and anyone else involved. Tensions remain high between Black Lightning and Gambi.
air date: 3/20/18
Black Lightning (Cress Williams) attempts to rescue several long-missing children reveals a secret he did not anticipate, and its resulting connections. Gambi (James Remar) struggles to stay strong while in a compromising position. Jefferson begins to view things differently.
air date: 3/27/18
As suspicions grow that Jefferson Pierce is Black Lightning, the ASA arranges to have him arrested. Lynn seeks help from Detecitve Henderson. Meanwhile, as Jefferson is in custody, Gambi and Anissa work together to show Black Lightning is still running around the streets of Freeland.
air date: 4/3/18
Tobias returns to Freeland. He is tasked to capture – not kill – Black Lightning with the help of an unexpected source. After a battle of epic proportions, Anissa and Jennifer provide surprising aid
air date: 4/10/18
The aftermath of the showdown with Black Lightning (Cress Williams) leaves everyone reeling. Meanwhile, Tobias (Marvin Jones III) gathers his forces.
air date: 4/17/18
Black Lightning Villain
Black Lightning will square off against his oldest foe on the show, Tobias Whale. Whale, who first appeared in Black Lightning #1, is described (via TV Line) as “a local politician who goes on to murder Alvin Pierce, father to Jefferson Pierce (Hart of Dixie‘s Cress Williams), after he is exposed to be involved in government corruption. Driven underground, he goes on to rebuild his reputation as the “violent and methodical” leader of The 100 gang, eventually reemerging to face off against the titular vigilante.”
Marvin “Krondon” Jones III will play Whale on the series. Image courtesy of TV Line.
Black Lightning Story
Black Lightning will launch with a script written by the Akils. Here’s the official synopsis:
Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is a man wrestling with a secret. As the father of two daughters and principal of a charter high school that also serves as a safe haven for young people in a New Orleans neighborhood overrun by gang violence, he is a hero to his community. Nine years ago, Pierce was a hero of a different sort. Gifted with the superhuman power to harness and control electricity, he used those powers to keep his hometown streets safe as the masked vigilante Black Lightning. However, after too many nights with his life on the line, and seeing the effects of the damage and loss that his alter ego was inflicting on his family, he left his Super Hero days behind and settled into being a principal and a dad. Choosing to help his city without using his superpowers, he watched his daughters Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McClain) grow into strong young women, even though his marriage to their mother, Lynn (Christine Adams), suffered. Almost a decade later, Pierce’s crime-fighting days are long behind himor so he thought. But with crime and corruption spreading like wildfire, and those he cares about in the crosshairs of the menacing local gang The One Hundred, Black Lightning returns — to save not only his family, but also the soul of his community.
Black Lightning was initially created by Tony Isabella and Trevor von Eeden, with Isabella brought in to DC fresh from his Marvel run, after having a hand in the character conception of Luke Cage (or Power Man). So with Luke Cage’s recent success on Netflix, it seems that Black Lightning’s time has come.
Black Lightning Cast
Cress Williams is Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning. The actor will return to the network two years after Hart of Dixie wrapped its four-season run.
Christine Adams will play opposite Mr. Williams as Lynn Pierce, Jefferson’s “Jefferson’s ex-wife who exudes confidence and intelligence. Although she’s got a mischievous side, she’s not one to be trifled with when it comes to family.” (info via Deadline).
Nafessa Williams (Code Black) and China Anne McClain (House of Payne) will play his daughters. Ms. McClain is Jennifer Pierce, “an independent, outspoken scholar-athlete with a wild streak of her own.” Ms. Williams is Anissa Pierce, “passionate and quick-witted, Jefferson’s twenty-something daughter balances the demands of medical school with her job teaching part-time at her father’s school.”
James Remar (Dexter) will play Peter Gambi, the oldest friend of main character Jefferson Pierce. He is sort of a father figure to Pierce. Damon Gupton (Bates Motel) will play Inspector Henderson, a lawman who doesn’t see eye to eye with Black Lightning at first, but soon realizes that they’re on the same side.
Chantal Thuy (Pretty Littler Liars) will join Black Lightning for a recurring role, reports Variety. Her role will be one familiar to contemporary DC Comics readers, Grace Choi. The character will be portrayed – at least, initially – as a bartender and eventual love interest of Black Lightning’s daughter, Anissa Pierce (Nafessa Williams). Grace, said to be a comic book fan, forms a relationship with Anissa that will reportedly help the superhero offspring come to terms with her own burgeoning superpowers.
In the pages of DC Comics, Grace Choi is a superheroine with enhanced strength and durability – the result of being a daughter of a Bana Amazon (a violent offshoot group of Wonder Woman’s people, who broke away from Themyscira thousands of years earlier). As a member of super-team the Outsiders, Grace is depicted in the comics as an abrasive personality who engages in sexual conquests of men and women. However, mirroring her upcoming Black Lightning TV arc, she forms a romantic relationship with fellow Outsider Anissa Pierce, who, wielding the ability to control her bodily mass, goes by the name of Thunder.
Jill Scott (Fringe), a Grammy Award-winning R&B singer, is joining Black Lightning for an antagonistic role, reports EW. Scott will play DC Comics character Lady Eve, a cunning serpent-obsessed villainess who, in the comics, is a member of the Kobra Cult, a world-domination-wanting organization run by scales-clad leader Kobra (who claims Eve as a concubine). However, on Black Lightning, Scott’s live-action rendition of Eve will instead carry a connection to main villain Tobias Whale (Marvin “Krondon” Jones III). While she’ll brandish the public façade of a funeral parlor owner, Eve is secretly aiding the villain’s efforts to bring down Black Lightning.
Black Lightning Costume
Check out Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce, in full Black Lightning costume…
The costume was designed by Laure Jean Shannon, whose live action superhero credits include Iron Man, Blade: Trinity, and Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. She’s also working on Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle.
“I knew way too much about the world as a young boy growing up in Richmond, California,” executive producer and writer Salim Akil said in a statement that came with the photo. “I was no stranger to violence, death, hopelessness or the feeling that no one cared about what was happening in my life. Comics were a great way for me to escape. I was about 13 when Black Lightning was created, and finally there was a Black Super Hero that gave a damn about our neighborhood and our lives. Resurrecting him at a time in our society when a sense of hope is lacking…Black Lightning will be that hope. And in updating the suit, it will signal to a new generation that it’s time to harness and release our power, and become our own Super Heroes.”
Check out your first look at Nafessa Williams in full costume as Thunder!
Here’s some more details, courtesy of DC:
Anissa is the older daughter of Jefferson Pierce, who fights crime under the guise of Black Lightning. In the comics, Anissa discovers that she has the ability to increase her body’s mass without increasing her size, which makes her really dense and impenetrable. She can take a punch like it was nothing and can even make herself bulletproof. She also can create powerful shockwaves, which is where she derives her superhero name.
Intriguingly, Jefferson also has a second daughter, Jennifer Pierce, who develops superpowers of her own. Operating under the name of Lightning, Jennifer’s powers are much closer to her father’s. However, we’re yet to see Jennifer in a similar suit. That doesn’t necessarily mean we won’t get there eventually, though…