Black Lightning’s Painkiller won’t be joining the other DC Comics shows on the CW.
Last year, it was announced that Black Lightning creators were going to attempt a spin-off starring recurring character Khalil. It would be named after his alter ego Painkiller. Step one was to have a pilot of sorts in Black Lightning’s final season. In episode 7, we received that episode and, despite this writer’s apprehension, it was good. This writer would go as far as to say that it exceeded everyone’s expectations. Too bad enough there weren’t enough people behind it. On May 24, news came out that Painkiller wouldn’t be getting a show on the CW.
Black Lightning had its ups and downs throughout its four-season run. There were times when Jordan Calloway (Kahlil) wasn’t a character viewers cared about. As the series progressed, Calloway got better. So much so that he became one of the best parts of Black Lightning’s final two seasons. It wasn’t just the action scenes. His character improved as well.
There was a distinct difference between Khalil and Painkiller. His movements were different. He walked with a bit of a swagger. Like he was better than everyone and he knew it. It was also the way he spoke to people. Painkiller always had a touch of sarcasm and cynicism in his tone. Khalil was more humble and sincere. It gave their personalities a distinct difference.
Why Black Lightning’s Painkiller would have worked
It wouldn’t have been just Jordan Calloway in the Painkiller series. Insecure’s Alexander Hodge played Philky. Someone who had a vital role in Khalil’s life. Philky would have been like Khalil’s Gambi. Making tech for Khalil or mapping out his route from their secret base. We would have gotten guest appearances from Black Lightning stars as well. Anissa, Grace, and possibly Jennifer would have joined the show at times. And, as much as Jefferson may have said he was retired, Black Lightning would have shown up as well.
It may be over for Black Lighting’s run as a show. At least on the CW. Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming platforms may want to take a chance on Painkiller. That could be a better move. As we’ve seen, people enjoy streaming shows more than watching them on TV.
First, they can watch it at their leisure. Not having to watch something when it airs live and with commercials is a bonus. Also, with streaming platforms, comes fewer restrictions. Painkiller could be more violent, sexual, and use adult language not allowed on the CW. It doesn’t have to be crass or vulgar. Just enough to make the show more mature and different.
It isn’t shocking that Painkiller wasn’t picked up. This isn’t the only spin-off the CW hasn’t passed on. There were two Supernatural spin-off projects that weren’t picked up. Recently, the Green Arrow and the Canaries project was cut as well. It’s unfortunate, but not surprising. Superman and Lois, Walker, and the new Batwoman already take up space. There’s also the upcoming show Naomi as well. There may not have been time or capital that could be spared. We haven’t even discussed how the pandemic hurt Painkiller’s chances.
Regardless of the reason, it’s disappointing that Painkiller won’t be part of the Arrowverse. It had more potential than Black Lightning. Nonetheless, Jordan Calloway has a future in action flicks and more. Black Lightning won’t be the last you see of him.
What do you think? Should the CW have gone forward with the Painkiller show? Was it a smart idea to cancel the idea? Let us know in the comments below.