The fourth season of The CW's Black Lightning is one that will be about endings and beginnings on a whole number of levels. On one hand, the series is set to end with its upcoming season, and China Anne McClain aka Jennifer Pierce aka Lightning is set to be phased out of the series before it ends. On the other hand, the season will also serve as the potential springboard for the future of the "Arrowverse" with a backdoor pilot for a spinoff built around Jordan Calloway's Painkiller character set for the seventh episode. One person with both a personal and professional vested interest in the final season (and beyond) is actor/comedian Wayne Brady, who made a huge impact during the third season as Gravedigger.
Speaking with EW, Brady revealed that he was in "absolute shock" when he heard Black Lightning was ending, prompting him to want to know if his character's fate was really sealed in that explosion or if there was more to come. "I've been putting in calls. Because trust me, a brother wants to be back in the Back Lightning universe," Brady explained. Brady applies the "we didn't see a body" argument to bringing his character back to the series and the proposed spinoff- a very legit one in the world of comic books. "The thing about Gravedigger is, I came in and Gravedigger just kicked everybody's behind," Brady says. "With the cancellation notice, they're trying to do what they can with the season. I don't know if I'll be a part of this yet. But I do think that there's always — as long as no one's ever said, 'Yes, Gravedigger's dead' — there's always a possibility that he may come back in the new spinoff."
"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," said executive producer Salim Akil in a statement when news of the series ending was first announced. "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."
Akil continues, "Thank you to the phenomenal cast, writers, and crew without whom none of this would've been possible. 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."
In the proposed backdoor pilot, 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.