11:00am PT by Lesley Goldberg
'Black Lightning' Spinoff in the Works at The CW
The CW is prepping another spinoff from one of its Greg Berlanti-produced DC Comics dramas and this time, it's Black Lightning.
The younger-skewing broadcast network has put Painkiller into development. Jordan Calloway, who started with the series in season one and was promoted to regular a year later, will reprise his role as Khalil Payne, aka Painkiller. The pilot for the potential series will air as a backdoor pilot and be the seventh episode in the upcoming fourth season of Black Lightning.
Salim Akil, who developed Black Lightning, will pen the script, exec produce and direct the pilot. Painkiller is based on DC Comics characters created by Tony Isabella and Eddy Newell.
In the episode, Khalil is riddled with the guilt of his troubled past from his former life in Freeland City, where as super-enhanced killing machine Painkiller he was a member of Tobias Whale's gang and a weapon of Agent Odell and the shadowy ASA. After attempting to bury Painkiller, Khalil moves to Akashic valley to find peace as his history clashes with a new beginning and he is forced back into action to bring justice.
This will be the first attempt at a spinoff from Black Lightning, which returns for its fourth season on Feb. 8, and the latest offshoot of a Berlanti-produced CW DC Comics show. The flagship, Arrow, wrapped last season and Supergirl, which was the third of the network's DC-verse, will come to an end in 2021 after six seasons. Berlanti's slate of DC fare includes The Flash (returning for its seventh season), Legends of Tomorrow (heading into season six) and Batwoman (entering its sophomore run).
For his part, Akil created Black Lightning and exec produces alongside Berlanti and his Berlanti Productions president Sarah Schechter. Mara Brock Akil, Oz Scott and Pascal Verschooris also exec produce the series. It's worth noting that Black Lightning producers Warner Bros. TV previously investigated Salim Akil in late 2018 after he was sued for domestic violence and breach of contract by an actress and writer Amber Dixon Brenner. He denied the allegations and nothing came from the studio's investigation.
For The CW, meanwhile, Painkiller becomes the latest spinoff in development for the 2021-22 season. The Mark Pedowitz-led broadcaster is also re-teaming with the team behind Nancy Drew for a spinoff, Tom Swift, that will also air as a planted episode of the sophomore drama this season.
News of Black Lightning's spinoff arrives as The CW has become defined by its successful franchises and as the network — a joint venture between CBS Studios and Warner Bros. TV — prepares to say farewell to flagship Supernatural next week. The network last season had a Riverdale spinoff and has attempted to grow Supernatural into several other offshoots. A spinoff of The 100, which recently ended its run, is also in development.