The CW's Black Lightning will join Supergirl and Arrow in the history books. The acclaimed superhero family drama is set to conclude its run after its upcoming fourth season, which begins in the spring of 2021. The series, which centers on superhero and educator Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning (Cress Williams), debuted in January 2018 and became the first of The CW's numerous superhero shows to center on a family of heroes, with Pierce's daughters Jennifer (China Anne McClain) and Anissa (Nafessa Williams) taking on the roles of Lightning and Thunder. Recently, The CW reportedly asked Black Lightning producers to build a backdoor pilot for a prospective Painkiller spinoff into the show's fourth season.
It seems from the first official comments by the production staff that Painkiller is being viewed as a continuation or evolution of the story they were telling on Black Lightning. How many, if any, of Black Lightning's cast members will play regular roles on that series, assuming it goes forward, is anybody's guess at this point.
"When we first started the Black Lighting journey, I knew that Jefferson Pierce and his family of powerful Black Women would be a unique addition to the super hero genre," series creator Salim Akil told Variety in a statement. "The love that Blerds and all comic book fans around the globe have shown this series over the past three seasons proved what we imagined, Black People Want To See Themselves in all their complexities."
"Thank you to the phenomenal cast, writers and crew without whom none of this would’ve been possible," Akil added. "I'm incredibly proud of the work we’ve been able to do and the moments we’ve been able to create in bringing DC’s first African-American family of super heroes to life for the culture. I’m very grateful to Peter Roth, Warner Bros. TV, Mark Pedowitz, The CW Network and Greg Berlanti for their partnership and support of my vision at every step of this journey. While Season Four may be the end of one journey, I’m extremely excited to usher in a new chapter and continued collaboration with The CW as we tell the story of Painkiller."
Black Lightning was run like a stand-alone series, even being produced in Atlanta, rather than Vancouver, where the rest of Berlanti's CW series are shot. Last season, during the "Crisis on Infinite Earths" event, the worlds on which both Black Lightning and Supergirl took place were merged into the main timeline, and both characters joined a team that is essentially the Arrowverse's version of the Justice League. At the time, "Crisis" showrunner Marc Guggenheim said that the decision to join or not join both the crossover and the larger DC Unvierse that Berlanti has set up at The CW was left up to Akil.
The show's final season, then, will be the first full season of the series set on Earth-Prime, and has, in theory, the potential to generate some crossover stories with other Arrowverse shows (The Flash, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, Batwoman). That may prove difficult, though, given the soaring coronavirus infection rates and the difficulty (and required quarantine time) involved with international travel.
Keep your eyes on ComicBook.com for more on this as it develops. Black Lightning returns to The CW in early 2021.