Black Lightning Star Jordan Calloway Credits Black Lives Matter for Painkiller Spinoff

While Black Lightning is in its fourth and final season on The CW, it's not the end of the story for Jordan Calloway's character, Khalil Payne/Painkiller. It was announced back in November that a spinoff series focused around the character is in development and will get a backdoor pilot before Black Lighting ends and according to Calloway, the Black Lives Matter movement is partially responsible for the Painkiller spinoff being possible at all.

Speaking with E! News, Calloway credits the movement for setting off what he called a "drive for more shows of color".

"If I'm being honest, I think Black Lives Matter is probably one of the reasons why we got the spinoff," Calloway said. "It's what ignited this drive for more shows of color."

Calloway also expressed his excitement for Painkiller, praising Black Lightning showrunner Salim Akil for creating a world that explores different cultures and ethnic backgrounds within the Black community.

"I'm excited about the whole world that Salim has created and how he wants to show different cultures," Calloway said. "He also wants to show different ethnic backgrounds. Also, different colors of Black, not just that Black is all the same, but all of the different, other aspects of what makes Black."

While Calloway credits the Black Lives Matter movement with Painkiller, Akil turned to some of the injustice that has propelled that movement for part of Black Lightning's Season 4 opening. The episode saw Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) deal with two Freeland police officers brutalizing a young Black man harmlessly walking down the street with his violin. Akil later explained that the scene was inspired by the real-life death of Elijah McClain, the 23-year-old unarmed black massage therapist who died in 2019 after being placed in a chokehold by police and sedated by paramedics in Colorado.


"The opening was inspired by Elijah McClain, the young man who was killed in Colorado," Akil told Entertainment Weekly. "It is a balance. There's almost a yin and yang. In one moment, you could feel righteous in the thing that you're doing with the cops, and then become almost a vigilante in dealing with this gang member because he wasn't trying to save anybody at that moment. He was seeking revenge. What I like about it is that you get to see the yin and the yang of that. And we're going to have to deal with that. It's fun. It's like when Batman turns evil or Superman turns evil."

Black Lightning airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET on The CW. The Painkiller backdoor pilot is set for the seventh episode of Black Lightning's fourth season.