How to stream ‘Black Lightning’: Everything you need to know

Electrify your streams.

Jun 19, 2020, 12:24 pm*


Jaime Carrillo 

Jaime Carrillo

Whether you’re up to date or just getting started, here’s everything you need to know to watch Black Lightning online for free.

Yes, educators are often heroes. In Jefferson Pierce’s case, he’s a literal superhero. After hanging up his cap nearly a decade ago because of his crumbling family life, the high school principal has come out of retirement as the electricity-manipulating vigilante Black Lightning. Pierce keeps the city of Freeland safe from the likes of criminals like Tobias Whale and Painkiller, all while raising his family in a world where anti-superhuman sentiment is becoming more and more pervasive.

Black Lightning premiered in 2018 and is in the middle of its second season. Last time we saw Black Lightning, our hero was moments away from finally apprehending a wounded Painkiller, who got away once again. Plus, a yet-to-be-revealed teleporting metahuman has been called to Freeland, capping off the mid-season finale with quite the cliffhanger.

How to Stream Black Lightning

black lightning episodes

What is Black Lightning?

  • Launched: January 2018
  • Channel: The CW
  • Genre: Superhero drama
  • Starring: Cress Williams as Jefferson Pierce/Black Lightning, China Anne McClain as Jennifer Pierce/Lightning, Nafessa Williams as Anissa Pierce /Thunder/Blackbird, Christine Adams as Lynn Stewart, Marvin “Krondon” Jones III as Tobias Whale
  • Seasons: 3
  • Status: Renewal for Season 4 announced January 2020

The CW is made a bold move by revamping an old-school DC character who isn’t super familiar to general audiences. But given the character’s long history, Black Lightning’s buzz, and plenty of untapped content to work with more than justified the decision.

It’s safe to say one’s excitement for the new series depends on how much you know about the character going in. Luckily for you, you’re about to learn all you need to know about Black Lightning before the diving in.

8 interesting facts about Black Lightning

1) Black Lightning blazed the trail for diversity in the DC Universe

Jefferson Pierce and his superhero alter ego Black Lightning were created by Tony Isabella with Trevor Von Eeden in 1977 and became DC Comics’ first major black superhero. At the time, most black characters in comic books were either minor characters or, even more disappointing, criminals. So Pierce’s story was a crucial and necessary break from DC comics’ confusing relationship with race.

But, it should be noted that Isabella was originally brought on board to work on a character that probably would’ve gone down as one of the most racially problematic characters in history. The Black Bomber, as he was called, was a white racist who would turn into a black man with super powers whenever he got too stressed out. DC should probably still be writing Isabella checks for making sure that never happened

2) Black Lightning’s powers didn’t always come naturally—but they do now

The biggest hint as to what Black Lightning’s powers are comes from his name. He can control electricity, obviously. But the way he’s able to do so hasn’t always been the same. In the beginning, Jefferson Pierce was just a really athletic guy who was determined to beat up thugs with the help of a belt that let him manipulate electricity. As time went on, he found that he had actually developed the ability to control electricity without the belt at all. Talk about a power up!

In the Black Lightning TV series, it looks like Pierce’s powers will come from within, not from his light-up outfit. If anything, the outfit helps him control and store his abilities. So, long story short, Black Lightning’s a metahuman.

3) Black Lightning is a role model as a hero and an Olympic athlete

Jefferson Pierce was crafted to be someone who kids in inner cities could look up and relate to. He grew up in the same kind of neighborhood many of them did, used his talents to reach his goals, and then came back home to help others do the same. In his case, he was a gold medal-winning Olympic athlete who didn’t mind settling down into life as a principal at his old high school. (Lots of athletes at the time couldn’t rely on sponsorships or crowdfunding to pay the bills, so this kind of work was normal.)

That Olympic-level training would go on to help him take up the vigilante/superhero lifestyle pretty quickly—especially since his event was decathlon. That’s 10 different skills in one, including the long jump, high jump, sprinting, hurdles, javelin, and more. It’s a lot easier to punch your way through a warehouse full of goons if you’re not out of breath two minutes in.

4) Black Lightning is also a family man

We don’t often see superheroes try to juggle their dangerous exploits while maintaining a family. Too often, heroes lean on the “Get away from me! You’re in danger!” trope and stay alone. But what happens when they’ve already got a family they can’t get away from because they’re not, you know, flighty assholes? That’s where we’ll pick up with Jefferson Pierce, as he’s raising his two daughters, Anissa and Jennifer. We already know they’ll play a prominent role in the TV series.

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Anissa and Jennifer, Black Lightning’s daughters. Screengrab via IGN/YouTube

To make things even more exciting, the Pierce sisters actually develop powers of their own through their inherited metahuman genes. Anissa becomes a hero named Thunder and has the ability to increase her body density at will (think bulletproof and really, really heavy). Jennifer basically becomes a walking lightning bolt that can fly. They may have even better powers than their dad.

5) Some imposters have tried to fill Black Lightning’s shoes

Despite being around for almost exactly 40 years, Black Lightning hasn’t really had a major breakthrough in other forms of entertainment yet. You may have seen people you thought were Black Lightning, but they weren’t. Due to a longtime battle over the character’s rights between DC Comics and Tony Isabella, fans were stuck with a couple imposters with clear nods to the original over the years.

The most recognizable is likely Black Vulcan, an African American superhero who could throw lightning bolts in the Super Friends television series. While the character was based on Black Lightning, they aren’t one in the same. (And let us never forget Black Vulcan’s classic appearance on Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law.)

There was also a clever nod to the character in the series about another electricity-wielding hero. But we’ll get back to that later.

6) Black Lightning has Superman’s respect, and they share something in common

Black Lightning may not be getting an appearance in the DC Extended Universe, but his role in the Justice League shouldn’t be ignored. Black Lightning is stamped and certified for approval by all the best, most notable heroes, including Superman, with whom he actually shares a hometown.

That’s right. Superman and Black Lightning both live in Metropolis. Although, very different parts of Metropolis, with Jefferson Pierce living and working on the South Side, aka Suicide Slum. Too bad no one remembered him at Superman’s funeral.

Throughout his career, Black Lightning has run solo, teamed up, and he’s been a member of top groups like the Outsiders and the Justice League. He even makes a handful of appearances in Young Justice. So don’t ever let yourself forget about his pedigree.

7) Black Lightning’s legend is still growing—and it needs a villain

The great thing about Black Lightning getting his own series is that his world will be expanded upon like never before. One of his biggest criticisms has always been how he doesn’t really have any major villains. His biggest headache is a local gang called The 100 that pushes drugs and guns into his neighborhood. The gang’s leader, Tobias Whale, is his closest thing to a rival. And that’s not saying a lot because Whale is basically Marvel’s Wilson “Kingpin” Fisk if you accidentally printed a smudgy, low-quality version of him that you could still recognize it you hold the paper up to the light.

The good news is that with weekly episodes, we could watch Jefferson Pierce face off against plenty of big baddies all his own. Besides, he can only beat up on gang members for so long before he starts to look like a bully.

8) Why fans keep rumbling for crossover with Static

Black Lightning’s creator, Tony Isabella, had stood firm on his stance of Black Lightning vs. Static for quite a while. (Static is a teen energy-wielder introduced to comics 1993 and later popularized in the CW animated series Static Shock.) Isabella respects both characters but has strong feelings that they should stay apart, and he views them as very different people.

While I respect that for a lot of reasons, I’ve got to admit, a Black Lightning-Static team-up is exactly what we all want! Especially if you were old enough to watch Static Shock as a kid. There was even an episode where Static teamed up with an older electricity user to take down a bad guy. That was supposed to be Black Lightning, but the use of the character couldn’t get cleared. (Let’s take a moment for what could’ve been…)

How to stream Black Lightning live: How to watch Black Lightning and other CW shows online

All the big-name live TV streaming services let you try out their services for one week, allowing you to watch Black Lightning for free. There are variations among them, though, especially when it comes to the local channels offered. Depending on which service you choose, the availability of the CW in your area might vary. The links below will offer a quick primer on what channels you’ll get with each service.

The CW isn’t just a TV station or an app on your phone, it’s available on nearly every major streaming device, meaning its easy to stream CW shows to your big screen at your convenience. All episodes of Nancy Drew (as well as other newer series Batwoman and Katy Keene) are available all season long. Yes, there are ads but on the plus side, you don’t need a cable provider or to log-in, and it’s completely free.

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Hulu Live TV is one of the most popular ways to stream live TV, perhaps because you gain access to a massive library of on-demand content including classic and current TV shows, movies, not to mention Hulu’s original programming. As far as live-streaming goes, you’ll have a ton of local, entertainment, and sports channels to flip through, including HGTV, a full suite of ESPN channels, Cartoon Network, FX, and even deep cuts like Nat Geographic and Syfy.

fubo tv
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FuboTV was built from the ground up with sports fans in mind. There are different channel packages available whether you’re looking for basketball, soccer, golf, or even outdoor sports like rock climbing. But no worries, all the great cable channels you’re after are here too, including Viceland, Bravo, and IFC.

at&t TV Now
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There’s a good chance that you’re already looking to AT&T for your wireless needs. The second you sign up, you’ll gain instant access to 45+ channels, including local channels and even free HBO in the Plus and Max channel suites. Plus, it comes with CloudDVR, which lets you record up to 20 hours of TV per month. One account works on two devices, but you can add more devices for only $5.

Youtube TV
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YouTube TV is a great solution for families because one subscription can add up to six accounts, and each account comes with unlimited cloud DVR. You can’t beat the variety, either: There are sports channels like NBCSN, NBA TV, and four ESPN channels, while Disney, Disney XD, Disney Junior, and Cartoon Network will keep any kid (or kid at heart) busy for hours. It also comes with a few Spanish-language channels like Telemundo and NBC Universo. AMC, BBC America, and IFC are there too, so you won’t miss out on all that prestige TV. (You can find the full list of YouTube TV channels here.)

How to catch up on Black Lightning episodes

If you’re looking for a place to catch up on older Black Lightning episodes, there are a couple of solutions.

If you’ve missed the latest episodes of your favorite CW shows like Riverdale, Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow, and others, you can stream select episodes directly from The CW shows. You don’t need credentials or an account to watch the most recent episodes, but each new episode expires after a couple of weeks, so you’ll want to act quickly. You can also catch extended trailers and other video extras, so it’s worth a dive.

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The leading name in streaming is still the best movie streaming site online, though the competition is closing in fast. Netflix’s smart suggestions learn from your viewing habits, making recommendations based on what you watch and how you rate it. With vast libraries across every genre, Netflix has a little bit of something for everyone in your house, from war movies, documentaries, anime, and indie flicks to true crime and movies based on true stories. The only knock on Netflix is that it’s relatively light on classic movies.

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*First Published: Jan 21, 2019, 5:30 am