‘Black Lightning’ Trailer: Six Facts About CW’s Next Hero

'Black Lightning' is coming to The CW in 2017. DC

The first trailer for Black Lightning, CW’s next superhero drama, is here. After Fox declined the pilot, the network could not let it slip through their fingers. Now, the series will run next to The Flash, Supergirl, Arrow and Legends.

Black Lightning has electromagnetic powers, which he uses in many different ways. Photo: CW

The trailer flashes back to when Jefferson Pierce (played by Cress Williams) was in his prime fighting crime as Black Lightning in 2005. However, after a brutal battle severely injures him, his wife says his time would be better served as a father and as a principal at Garfield High School. Flash forward to 2017 and Jefferson is just that. He’s won the principal of the year award and believes he can do just as much good teaching high school kids as he can fighting crime. But when The 100 gang goes on a terror spree, Black Lightning knows he has to step up and do something about it (especially since his daughters are at risk.)

Lynn, Jefferson Pierce's ex-wife played by Christine Adams, convinced Black Lightning to hang up his suit in 2005. Photo: CW


Black Lightning is a metahuman. His eyes light up blue and his powers don’t stem from the suit. He sends electromagnetic charges from the palms of his hands. The flashbacks to 2005 also showed Black Lightning in action without his technologically advanced suit, so it’s clear the powers are innate. The new gear is an upgraded model from the classic leather getup.

Jefferson Pierce appears to have built his own high-tech suit. Photo: CW


“With a daughter hell-bent 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,” the synopsis for the series reads. If the following origin story from the comics sounds familiar, that’s because the synopsis for the show is almost identical minus a few little details.

Jefferson Pierce was an olympic athlete with multiple gold medals. He returns to Southside a.k.a.  Suicide Slum in Metropolis and becomes principal of Garfield High School. His father was Alvin Pierce, a renowned journalist who was murdered. That’s why Jefferson left the city in the first place. The city was quickly overrun by The 100 gang and villains like Tobias Whale. It was a man named Peter Gambi who mentored Pierce and taught him to hide his abilities and control them. But when Black Lighting returned to the city, Gambi encouraged him to use his powers for good. After one of his students, Earl Clifford, is murdered he becomes Black Lightning.

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Jefferson Pierce, aka Black Lightning, could end up on The CW. Photo: DC

Black Lightning was one of the first African-American superheroes, debuted in 1977 and created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden.  In Infinite Crisis #5, Black Lightning tells Mr. Terrific (a character currently 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.”

Black Lightning was a member of the Justice League and Outsiders. His character has appeared in the animated series, Batman: The Brave and the Bold and Young Justice. In the latter, he mentors Static Shock, who starred in his own hit animated series on Kids WB in the early 2000s. 


The trailer confirms Jefferson Pierce’s two daughters, Anissa and Jennifer, will also have powers and likely become suited heroes down the line. The trailer says, “Walks like Thunder, strikes like Lightning … and runs in the family.” That is no coincidence.

Anissa aka Thunder, and her younger sister Jennifer, aka Lightning. Photo: CW

Jefferson Pierce’s two daughters are known as Thunder and Lightning in the comics. Nafessa Williams (Code Black) plays Anissa Pierce, a.k.a. Thunder. She was narrating the trailer. At 22 years old, Anissa attends medical school while teaching at her father’s high school part-time. She’s described as sharp and passionate, and looks up to her father a great deal. In the comics, Thunder followed in the footsteps of her dad as a member of The Outsiders. She has the power to increase her body density, which gives her the ability to create shockwaves and have impenetrable skin.

China Anne McClain plays Jefferson Pierce's youngest daughter, Lightning. Photo: CW

China Anne McClain (House of Payne) plays Jennifer Pierce, a.k.a. Lightning. She’s described as a 16-year-old feminist who is outspoken, independent, smart and athletic. In the comics, Lightning was eventually recruited as a member of the Justice Society of America. She possesses electromagnetic powers just like her dad.


The 100 is a gang who stretch far in DC continuity, eventually making it to Jefferson Pierce’s neck of the woods in Southside Metropolis. They’re known for drug trafficking and racketeering and other bad stuff that has attracted the attention of other heroes like Superman and Booster Gold. The 100 eventually evolved into the 1000, expanding their reach even further. The gang’s members have included Joey Toledo, a dude nicknamed Pajamas and even Malcolm Merlyn, but Black Lightning’s biggest enemey is Tobias Whale.

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What cool stuff can Black Lightning's suit do? Photo: CW


No, for now. CW President Mark Pedowitz recently said, “We do not intend to do a five way crossover. Black Lightning, at this point, is not part of the Arrowverse.” DCTV producer Geoff Johns said the same thing when Black Lightning was first ordered to series.

Take this statement with a grain of salt, considering the same was said about Supergirl when it moved to The CW. It’s quite possible the writers simply haven’t created a natural way to bring in Black Lightning . It would be easy enough to just say Black Lightning exists on another Earth far, far away, like Supergirl on Earth-38.

First look at Cress Williams as Black Lightning. Photo: CW

Series star Cress Williams is hopeful for a crossover eventually as well. “I think it would be interesting down the line,” Williams told ComicBook.com.  “Eventually we’re going to have probably three superheroes on our show with me and the daughters. Once we become some kind of team, it would be great to go as a team onto another show. It’s going to be fun developing that, because with every good thing, there’s going to be a lot of wrinkles.”


Black Lightning is rumored to premiere in the 2017-2018 midseason, in the same way Legend of Tomorrow premiered for a 16 episode run in January for it’s first season. While that’s just a rumor, the trailer did say a 2017 release date. The series was not included in the Fall 2017 lineup the network released yesterday.

'Black Lightning' is coming to The CW in 2017. Photo: DC
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