The CW's Arrowverse is going through some serious changes heading into 2021. We have a new Batwoman on the way, courtesy of Javicia Leslie's Ryan Wilder. We have Superman & Lois joining the line-up and Stargirl most likely taking on a bigger role now that's officially CW- even as Supergirl prepares to wrap its run. And while viewers still await word on the Green Arrow and the Canaries pilot, the network announced on Thursday that it was developing a backdoor pilot for a Black Lightning spinoff built around Jordan Calloway's Painkiller character. The backdoor pilot will be the seventh episode of the upcoming fourth season, with Black Lightning showrunner Salim Akil writing, executive producing, and directing.
Calloway's Khalil Payne is a young man riddled with guilt over his troubled past from his former life in Freeland City, where, as a super-enhanced killing machine known as Painkiller, he was both a member of Tobias Whale's (Marvin Jones III) gang and a weapon of Agent Odell (Bill Duke) and the shadowy ASA. After attempting to bury the darker, devastatingly lethal Painkiller part of his persona, Khalil 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 Khalil Payne… or Painkiller. As his violent, destructive history crashes his idyllic new beginning, Khalil is thrust 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, Painkiller.
The CW's Black Lightning (as well as the Painkiller backdoor pilot) is produced by Berlanti Productions, Akil Productions, and DC Entertainment in association with Warner Bros. Television. Based on characters created for DC by Tony Isabella with Eddy Newell, the Painkiller character first appeared in comic book form in 1995.