Expect more pain on Black Lightning next season. Jordan Calloway, who recurred as Khalil Payne/Painkiller in the first season of the CW’s DC superhero drama, has been promoted to series regular for Season 2. Read the character’s backstory below.
The Black Lightning Comic-Con panel opened with a sizzle reel from Season 1 (watch it below). Said showrunner/executive producer Salim Akil, who made the Calloway announcement today. “[He is] such a good guy, great actors, and a wonderful character.”
Akil was joined onstage by stars Cress Williams, China Anne McClain, Nafessa Williams, Christine Adams, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III, Damon Gupton and James Remar as well as his wife and BL exec producer Mara Brock Akil.
With BL being the first superhero series on network television to feature a predominantly black cast, the subject of diversity and representation was touched on.
“We haven’t seen that many African-American so-called superheroes,” Akil said. “Making it a family drama you’re able to explore our humanities. What people of all races get to see is we have a lot of shit in common. … It’s important because in a season where there’s an attempt to divide us, shows like this try to pull us together.”
Added Mare, “Celebrating our culture is important to remind us we are also a part of the fabric of American culture.”
Other than the Painkiller announcement, the discussion was devoid of any Season 2 spoilers, reflecting more on the series opener and character evolutions.
Here’s the Painkiller story: Khalil Payne was a high school All-American track star with dreams of going to the Olympics until a stray bullet severed his spine, leaving him embittered and unable to walk. Tobias Whale (Jones), the archnemesis of Black Lightning (Williams), offers Khalil legs for loyalty. He accepts the offer and receives cybernetic enhancements that transform him into the Painkiller, meta-strong and able to generate an anesthetic from his body that causes temporary paralysis when delivered through darts. Now, he is a living weapon for a ruthless crime boss. Before long, he pines for his old life and dreams, and his teenage love, Jennifer Pierce (McClain) — who happens to be Black Lightning’s daughter.
Produced by Berlanti Productions and Akil Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television, the DC Comics-based Black Lightning is executive produced by Greg Berlanti, Akil, Mara Brock Akil and Sarah Schechter. Season 2 launches October 9 on the CW.