'Black Lightning' Drops a Heartwarming Superman Nod in "Black Jesus Blues"

Tonight's episode of Black Lightning may have been entitled "Black Jesus Blues", but The CW series didn't just show the struggles of its hero. It had a fitting and heartwarming Superman reference as well.

Minor spoilers for tonight's episode of Black Lightning, "Black Jesus Blues", below.

Tonight's episode saw Jefferson (Cress Williams) having to face the music after the Season 1 finale. He stepped down as the principal of Garfield only to be replaced by a white man. He also, as Black Lightning, had to deal with the long legacy of Freeland's missing children when one of the children in the pods escaped.

The girl, Wendy, fled when she was accidentally freed from the pod in an accident. Overwhelmed by her powers -- aerokinesis -- and the fact that she's been asleep for 30 years, Wendy had a psychotic break sending her on a dangerous rampage through Freeland as she tried in vain to find people and places familiar to her. Eventually. Black Lightning locates her and, after having to shock her into settling down and thus getting her back to her right mind, the girl asks the hero who he is. His response? "A friend."

The exchange is a direct reference to Richard Donner's 1978 film Superman. When asked a similar question, Christopher Reeve's Man of Steel also replies with the humble "a friend" line. Given the magnitude of Superman's heroics he's clearly underselling himself, but that's part of what makes Superman the hero that he is. That same humility is what helps define both Black Lightning as a hero and Jefferson Pierce as an everyday hero.

The idea of Jefferson as an everyday hero and a man with great integrity is another theme that the episode underscored as well. When Lynn (Christine Adams) brought home the recently resurrected "Green Light baby" Issa, the young man became incredibly excited to meet Jefferson due to his reputation in the community. Later, at the end of the episode, Jefferson's impact was made even more clear when, after informing his students that he would no longer be their principal the students responded by turning his own "where is the future?" mantra on him as he walked away.

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Black Lightning airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.