Black Lightning will try to take one DC Comics' longtime African-American superheroes and adapt him into live-action. Even though he may not be well-known in the mainstream, the character of Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning has an extensive mythos - one that spans generations of his family.
In the comics, Black Lightning has two daughters. The eldest, Anissa, and youngest, Jennifer, both grow up to be superheroes like their dad, taking up the alter-egos of Thunder and Lightning, respectively. The Black Lightning TV series has cast actresses Nafessa Williams (Twin Peaks) and China Anne McClain (House of Payne) as Anissa and Jennifer Pierce (respectively) - so just how closely will the show follow DC Comics canon?
We here at Comicbook.com had a chance to sit down with the cast and showrunners of Black Lightning while at San Diego Comic-Con, and asked about the future of the Pierce daughters in the DC TV Universe.
Sitting down with the Black Lightning cast, we asked Nafessa Williams and China Anne McClain about their roles in the show - and how they felt about the prospect of one day suiting up as official DC Comics superheroines.
According to the Nafessa Williams, both she and China Anne McClain are ready to suit up as their heroic alter-egos. As she told us: "For sure - for sure we do. Definitely. And he [Jefferson] doesn't really agree with it, but we have a mind of our own, and we look up to him, so it's definitely something we [Anissa and Jennifer] aspire to be."
In the comics, Anissa becomes the hero Thunder, able to increase her density to point of being as hard and immovable as a boulder. However, it's Jennifer who gets the direct line of daddy's DNA, and develops lightning powers very similar to Jefferson's, becoming the hero known as Lightning.
China Anne McClain was particularly excited about getting Jennifer Pierce comic book power set. As she told us, "I was excited that I actually got to have the same superpower as you [Jefferson], that's really exciting! Big shoes to fill!"
Black Lightning Executive Producer Mara Brock Akil framed the evolution of both Thunder and Lightning in the show, by offering this thematic breakdown:
"It's great to see women who are coming into their empowerment, understanding it. And sometimes we misuse it because we don't understand it, and to watch them [Anissa and Jennifer] go through that journey is going to be a lot of fun."
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 him…or 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.
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