Just hours ahead of the series finale of Black Lightning, The CW announced that it would not be moving forward with Painkiller, the planned spinoff starring Jordan Calloway as Khalil Payne, a role he originated in the pilot for Black Lightning and played for all four seasons of the acclaimed superhero family drama. It's too bad, because the notion of a potential spinoff influenced the way Khalil's story played out in the final episode, as executive produce Salim Akil wanted to clear the runway for Painkiller as much as possible so that the show had the most potential for success in its theoretical first season.
During the course of the finale, Khalil learns that the kill order placed in Painkiller's head against the Pierce family can be removed...but only if he sacrifices all of his memories of the Pierces in order to make it happen. After some consideration, he does so -- losing everything he remembered about not just the love of his life (Jennifer) but also his de facto father figure (Jefferson) in the process.
Series creator Salim Akil recently told ComicBook.com that Khalil's story was part of his exploration of the "duality" of Black men.
"Well, with Khalil what I'm trying to explore, I think I take myself a little bit too seriously, but what I'm trying to explore is the duality of a lot of African-American men," Akil said. "And I mean, Dubois talked about it. In one regard, you want to be the American dream. You want to be that participant in American culture, but at the same time, you're always seen as the other. And within yourself, what you're trying to do is become whole. You're trying to become a whole person. And there's always something that separates you from the whole. There's always a reminder of what separates you from the, be it police brutality, the lack of jobs, lack of concern about the violence in your community."
While Calloway told fans after The CW passed that they were laying this version of the character to rest, a new report today suggested that the series could be picked up at HBO Max for a potential second life.
Here's the synopsis for Painkiller, at least for now...!
After attempting to bury the darker, devastatingly lethal Painkiller part of his persona, Khalil Payne has distanced himself away from everyone he knows and loves in a new city, Akashic Valley, in order to find peace, but peace never comes easy for men with pasts like his. As his violent, destructive history crashes his idyllic new beginning, Khalil is thrusted back into action with a new mission: bring justice where he once gave out punishment. But to do that, he will first have to deal with and harness his darker side.