“Black Lightning” executive producers Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil explained why they chose not to start the new CW series with an origin story of its titular character Jefferson Pierce.

“Why are we starting it in the middle? Not an origin story? We did that because I wanted him to be fully out of the game,” Akil said (via Comic Book Resources) at the San Diego Comic-Con last July. “What’s interesting to me is not what you’re doing; it’s why you quit and then why are you pulled back in.”

Akil said that Jefferson (Cress Williams) retired from his superhero gig because he loves his family. “If you guys have seen the trailer, you’ve seen that image of him in the tub,” Akil said. “You can imagine having to deal with something like that … once a month. And so, when [Jefferson’s ex-wife Lynn (Christine Adams)] says, ‘Look, I need you to stop for the love of your family,’ he did!”

“Superpowers can be like a drug, right? So she’s telling him to get off this drug,” Akil continued. “So I wanted to see and hear what it was like, so that as we walk down the road of him coming back, we knew what he was headed for. … So that’s kind of why we started right there.”

While Jefferson’s superhero story won’t start by telling the viewers how he got his powers, Brock Akil pointed out that “Black Lightning” actually starts with “two origin stories” as both of Jefferson’s daughters start to discover their own powers at the beginning of the series.

Jefferson’s daughters are Anissa (Nafessa Williams) and Jennifer (China Anne McLain). Anissa is Jefferson’s older daughter. She’s in medical school and teaches part-time at the school where Jefferson works as a principal. Jennifer, meanwhile, is an independent, outspoken scholar-athlete. In the comics, Anissa becomes superhero Thunder, while Jennifer eventually suits up as Lightning.

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly last July, Akil revealed that Jefferson has no idea that both of his daughters are also metahumans like him at the beginning of the series. But when Jefferson finds out about it, it’s something that he isn’t going to accept easily.

“It’s hard for any parent to see their children grow out of the nest [so] that’s how Jefferson will react to seeing his daughters get their powers,” Akil said. “In a way, he’ll be a little fearful, because he understands what having powers is and what it means. The same way when parents see their children go off into the world without them, they’re a little fearful because they understand what the world has in store for them. But you can’t stop that. You have to let them grow.”

“Black Lightning” will premiere midseason on The CW.

Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce “Black Lightning” executive producers Salim Akil implied that he’s more interested in telling the story of why Jefferson Pierce (Cress Williams) is returning to his vigilante ways than telling how he got his superpowers in the first place. Photo: The CW