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'Black Lightning' keeps it all in the family at Comic-Con

'Black Lightning' keeps it all in the family at Comic-Con
Cress Williams and China Anne McClain speak at the "Black Lightning" special video presentation and Q&A during Comic-Con International 2018. (Mike Coppola / Getty Images)

Family was a big theme at “Black Lightning’s” Comic-Con panel Saturday.

The panel touched on how the actors brought their own familial roles to their parts and the show's impact on the larger family of African Americans they represent through the show. Star Cress Williams said his character’s familial duties, combined with his heroic endeavors, would begin to weigh heavily this coming season.

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"Being a principal is a full-time job. Being a hero is a full-time job. Being a father is a full-time job. This season it will come to bear."

Executive producer Mara Brock Akil said displaying Williams’ character with his kids was a powerful visual that the show wanted to spotlight. She also brought cheers from the crowd when she reiterated how black women have always represented "the struggle" in their communities and that the show wants to make sure that that image is front and center.

Salim Akil addresses the crowd at the "Black Lightning" panel at Comic-Con.
Salim Akil addresses the crowd at the "Black Lightning" panel at Comic-Con. (Jevon Phillips / Los Angeles Times)

(Onscreen, the “Black Lightning” family is expanding this season with the promotion of guest star Jordan Calloway, who plays former paralyzed-athlete-turned-cybernetically-enhanced anesthetic villain Painkiller (also known as Khalil Payne), to series regular.).

Another big theme of the panel was representation. Showrunner Salim Akil told the audience that LEGO had just presented them with a Black Lightning figure, which he hoped indicated the hero would be around "forever." His wish and his measure of success will be when, hopefully, he's able to see kids, white and black, dressing up as characters from the show. He recalled a moment from his childhood when he tried to dress up as Batman, but realized that the white mask he wore differed from his black hands. His mom gave him gloves, but it stuck with him.

"I didn't want another black girl or brown kid to ever have to hide their skin to become a hero," said Salim. "I can't wait for Halloween."

The show returns Oct. 9 on The CW.

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