When Black Lightning strikes The CW next year, Jefferson Pierce will be enjoying retirement from the superhero life. Unlike the network's other DCTV shows, the man once known as Black Lightning left his hero-ing days behind him. At Comic-Con International in San Diego, executive producers Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil revealed why they chose start Jefferson's story in medias res rather than at the beginning.
"Why are we starting it in the middle? Not an origin story? We did that because I wanted him to be fully out of the game," Salim Akil explained. "What's interesting to me is not what you're doing; it's why you quit and then why are you pulled back in, right? So he quit because of the love of his family: 'I love my wife. I love my kids. And I'm coming home beat up.' And if you guys have seen the trailer, you've seen that image of him in the tub. You can imagine having to deal with something like that, what, once a month. And so, when [Jefferson's ex-wife] says, 'Look, I need you to stop for the love of your family,' he did! Nine good years, right, you're on the wagon."
"For the hope of getting her back!" Mara Brock Akil added.
"Because your superpowers can be like a drug, right? So she's telling him to get off this drug. So I wanted to see and hear what it was like, so that as we walk down the road of him coming back, we knew what he was headed for. And now we know what his daughters are headed for as well. So that's kind of why we started right there," Salim Akil continued.
"And... we have two origin stories! Coming out of retirement, and so there's still more to know. Storytelling keeps you leaning in. That's our job to keep pumping them out!" Mara Brock Akil concluded with a laugh.
Asked what he was most looking forward to exploring with a retired superhero, star Cress Williams said, "Like the real human aspect of it, you know? That some days it's going to be hard to get out of bed. As a person of a certain age, you're like, 'Oh. That hurts!' Almost similar to Indiana Jones, that he's not the perfect hero. Indiana Jones kind of bumbles through things. He gets hurt, and it doesn't feel so good. Black Lightning can be that kind of hero. I'm excited about that."
Debuting on the CW in 2018, Black Lightning is a production of Akil Productions starring Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams and Christine Adams.