Black Lightning might be like 2.5 months away from blasting onto our TV screens again, but this weekend, Shadow anAct caught up with our favorite citizens and creators of Freeland at San Diego Comic-Con and got some hints on the direction that this upcoming season will go!
The Pierce family is at the center of Black Lightning, and, at the end of season 1, they now have all their superpower family secrets out among them. So why is seeing Black Lightning/Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) specifically on our TV screens so important? Executive producer Salim Akil said, “I told Warner Brothers before we ended up signing with them was that I wanted to reintroduce a certain type of black man on television. And I thought Jefferson Pierce aka Black Lightning was that man; a man dedicated to his family, his community, and that’s what he is. So, Black Lightning gave me—us—the opportunity to talk about and tell stories that I felt were not being talked about and told.” What about the possibility of our Black Lightning superheroes paying a visit to the Arrowverse? Salim said he isn’t interested because they are building a Lightningverse instead. “We want to bring other characters into the Lightningverse; we want Static Shock. Static Shock should be in our hands; there are nobody’s else’s hands he should be in. I also want the Milestone comics characters: Hardware and Icon. Really, I want them all!”
Before talks of other character spinoffs in the Lightningverse, we think one spinoff they might want should feature more of Anissa Pierce/Thunder (Nafessa Williams), the first black lesbian superhero on TV. Anissa might be the only genuinely enthusiastic and non-apprehensive superhero in the family right now. This certainly still seems to be the case when season 2 begins, as Anissa will be trying to win over her baby sister, Jennifer/Lightning (China Anne McClain). “Anissa is trying to help Jennifer embrace her powers, they are still butting heads on that. Anissa sees this as a God-given gift and Jennifer not so much.” So, what other challenges will Anissa be facing this season? “In terms of challenges this season, maintaining a love life. She needs to understand there has to be a balance between her love life, her career, and her work as a superhero in the community. She’s so focused on work that her family has to remind her to live. So, I hope we see more of her love life this season.”
In season 2, Gambi (James Remar) is working his way back in the family after the blowout of last season, which will, of course, include helping Jefferson with all things tech. According to Remar, it’s his budding relationship with Anissa that excites him. “Gambi is a more active participant in her heroics this year. Anissa’s not a reluctant hero, and Gambi wants to protect her at all costs. Anissa and Gambi are very tight; they don’t have any of the baggage that the Jefferson/Gambi relationship has because of what happened to Jefferson’s father. Anissa just knows him as Uncle Gambi who has always been kind, been there and been good to her. They really thrive on each other this season.”
China echoed Nafessa’s sentiments that Jennifer is still struggling with superpowers when the series returns. “I think she will always struggle with it until she becomes more confident in who she is. She’s a teenager and still trying to get used to peer pressure. If you add superpowers to that, it complicates everything.” Speaking of complications, with the announcement of Painkiller (Jordan Calloway) being a more prominent threat in season 2, we had to ask: how will this impact his relationship with Jennifer?
“She acts like she doesn’t have time for him, and she hates him after the way things ended last season since he basically killed her father. It’s complicated because he doesn’t know that Black Lightning is her father or that she has superpowers. So, all of this is a very complicated situation, and while she acts like she doesn’t have time for him, deep down in her heart, she does.” Well, even in the midst of this very complicated situation and her adjustment to being a superhero, at least she has a new dope suit to help her out on this journey. China teases, “I have had a fitting, and it’s very different [from] Black Lightning and Thunder’s costumes, I can say that! You guys are going to love it.”
The newly promoted Deputy Chief Billy Henderson (Damon Gupton), might finally uncover the mystery of Black Lightning. “Who knows how long Henderson will be in the dark? Henderson just might find out this season that his boy is who he really is,” Gupton teased. Either way, we cannot wait for season 2 because this cast’s chemistry is undeniable. Nafessa Williams agrees, saying, “We really are a family outside of the show, and so I think that helps to translate it on camera.”
Apart from the dope writing, soundtrack and visuals, what keeps these actors motivated while shooting season 2? Well, the fans, of course! “Fans, but particularly African-American audiences, really understand what the show is trying to do. People have been so kind and have a real gratitude to us for telling these stories and fans are really vocal about how thankful they are that they get to see themselves represented in all different forms onscreen,” says Christine Adams, who portrays Dr. Lynn Stewart.
“During our hiatus, I went to quite a few cons, and, in each one, I met fans that almost made me cry. There was one interracial couple, in particular, that was a really special encounter. The husband talked about the music and taking road trips with his grandmother. His wife thanked us for the show saying, because of it, she started to understand him more and what he’s been through.” says star Cress Williams. Nafessa echoed similar sentiments: “a young, lesbian fan came up to me after a con and said that after seeing Thunder onscreen, she felt normal. It was overwhelming for both of us, and we were crying; representation matters; it is very important, and we all want to see ourselves on TV.”
The love is real from fans and critics alike. While we know you can’t wait for more Black Lightning, don’t forget that you can check the 2018 Comic-Con trailer below! Be sure to catch the return of the Pierce Family back in action on Tuesday, October 9 at 9 ET on the CW.