‘Black Lightning’ Plot, Character Details Are Everything

black lightning
Black Lightning was in an episode of 'Young Justice.' DC

I’ve been waiting for this moment ever since Arrow popped off and sparked a wave of interest for comic book adaptations on network TV. When I was a kid, I was pretty much obsessed with Static Shock. He was just a black, teenage nerd living in a single parent household with a kickass, loving sister and a blonde best friend just trying to do the right thing. There weren’t many heroes like him – who fought against adversity on the top of a trash can lid with an afro and a beat bumping in the background. And he wore the flyest blue and gold outfit.

So when CW picked up the Black Lightning pilot last week, I was ecstatic, because well, he’s even cooler than Static. He was one of the first African-American superheroes, debuted in 1977.  In Infinite Crisis #5, Black Lightning tells Mr. Terrific (who is currently a character on CW’s Arrow ) he chose his name because “Back when I started this business, I was the only one of us around...I wanted to make sure everyone knew who they were dealing with.” This character presents the opportunity to bring another perspective into the spotlight of superhero TV and now we have some concrete details (Via Hashtag Show) about what to expect.

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Black Lightning was in an episode of 'Young Justice.' Photo: DC

The character breakdowns (below) reveals The CW is looking to cast Jefferson Pierce at about 40 years old. If the pilot goes to series, his age will be a great contrast to shows like The Flash, which star heroes in their 20s. Having a retired former hero who’s already mastered his powers put back on the suit will be a great change of pace. It also leaves the opportunity, like Arrow has done successfully, to have awesome flashback sequences exploring the character’s early life. Jefferson Pierce as a middle-aged man also allows the opportunity to heavily develop his daughters’ stories. We need more young black women in the spotlight and this show has it.  Anissa, 22, is in medical school and 18-year old Jennifer is described as a feminist. Their mother, Lynn, is “beautiful but not to be trifled with.”

The Pierce family. Photo: DC Nation

SplashReport also claims to have more interesting details. According to Jean-François Allaire, the author, the One Hundred street gang is at war with the LAPD in Metropolis’ Suicide Slum. Pierce is a high school principal who has been separated with his wife since around the time he decided to quit being Black Lightning. But after his youngest daughter, Jennifer, gets in trouble, he makes a choice to use his powers for the first time in 10 years. His old friend, Gambi, saves him and asks him to put back on his costume and continue his vigilantism because the city needs him. He initially says no, but agrees when his two daughters are kidnapped.

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Anissa is in a relationship with Grace Cho in the comics. Photo: DC

Jefferson’s daughters are also heroes with powers in the comics. Anissa aka Thunder, is a member of the Outsiders – a group founded by Batman and Black Lightning. She has the power to increase her body density, which give her the ability to create shockwaves and have impenetrable skin. Jennifer, who goes by Lightning and possesses electromagnetic powers like her dad, was recruited by the Justice Society of America. Neither daughter has appeared in a DC TV show or film, but Black Lightning has appeared in the animated series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice. Black Lightning has been used as a blueprint for many other similar characters such as Static, Black Vulcan, Juice and Soul Power, who all even sported his trademark blue and gold colors.

Jennifer Pierce is Lightning. Photo: DC Comics

The casting breakdown didn’t list the Gambi character SplashReport mentioned in their description. However, that is a family name in DC Comics. The character could be Peter Gambi, the only good guy in the family of villains, a tailor in Metropolis' Suicide Slum. When he was young and part of the mob, he actually kill Pierce's father, but he reformed and designed Black Lightning’s costume and force field belt. Pierce eventually forgave him.

Courtesy of The Hashtag Show, here are the full character breakdowns.

Black Lightning aka Jefferson Pierce

Male, African-American, late 30s to 50. Handsome, fit, with an athletic build. Former 3-time gold medal decathlon winner who is now principal of a high school in South Central Los Angeles. A father figure to his student and hero to the local community. JEFFERSON is charming, charismatic, smart, and has both warmth and humor. He is devoted to his two daughters and remains deeply in love with his ex-wife LYNN. He also has a great passion for justice and a quick temper that he has spent years learning how to control. Think Idris Elba. LEAD.

Jennifer, Pierce’s daughter

Female. African-American, LEGAL 18 to play 16. JEFFERSON’s younger daughter. JENNIFER is a scholar athlete; beautiful with a lean, athletic runner’s build. She is the entitled feminist of the Pierce family. Independent and outspoken with a wild streak. SERIES REGUALR, ASP.

Anissa, Pierce’s daughter

Female. African-American, to play 22. JEFFERSON’s elder daughter. Beautiful, quick-witted and intelligent; intense and passionate. ANISSA has a great respect for her father. ANISA balances the demands of medical school with her duties as a part time teacher at JEFFERSON’s school. SERIES REGULAR, ASP.

Lynn, Pierce’s ex-Wife

Female, African-American, mid 30s to 50. Exudes confidence and intelligence. Beautiful, but not to be trifled with. Can exhibit both great emotional depth as well as a flirtatious, mischievous side. SERIES REGULAR, ASP.”


Black Lightning centers on Jefferson Pierce. He made his choice: He hung up the suit and his secret identity years ago, but with a daughter hellbent on justice and a star student being recruited by a local gang, he’ll be pulled back into the fight as the wanted vigilante and DC legend Black Lightning.

The Game and Being Mary Jane creators Salim and Mara Brock Akil wrote the pilot. Production is rumored to start in March.

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