When Black Lightning hits the airwaves in two weeks, the series will bring Jefferson Pierce, his super-powered daughters, and Tobias Whale to the screen -- but one familiar DC name that has flown largely below the radar is Inspector William Henderson, who will appear in the series (possibly without the first name William), played by actor Damon Gupton.
It is likely that Gupton's Henderson is a modern reinterpretation of the Superman character, especially since Henderson appeared in the Black Lightning: Year One miniseries that influences much of the TV show. Gupton sees him as such a divergence from the traditional take that he is almost a different character -- but that doesn't mean there are not things he can take away from the version fans are familiar with.
"Originally, when Salim first talked about it, I was curious as to whether it would be that guy that showed up in Superman or whatever," Gupton told ComicBook.com. "But he's his own thing, he's pretty separate from that. I think what I want to draw on is his steeliness; he gets to doing his thing, and he really gets to doing his thing. That's the one thing....And maybe the hat as well."
After years working as a Superman supporting character among the Metropolis police, Henderson became a Black Lightning character in the 1970s.
Henderson was created for The Adventures of Superman on the radio in the 1940s, appearing for the first time in the comics in 1974. The character, who appeared on The Adventures of Superman TV series as a white man wearing a fedora. He was black in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, as well as in Superman: The Animated Series; in both, he was played by Mel Winkler. Brent Jennings, another actor of color, also played Henderson on Lois & Clark.
In the comics, Henderson has never been as prominent as he has been in live-action -- although he did become the police commissioner in the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Superman reboot. In The New 52 timeline, he was reintroduced, again as an African-American character, in Supergirl in 2009.
Black Lightning will premiere on January 16 at 9 p.m. ET/PT on The CW, following the midseason premiere of The Flash.