What Is the Difference Between Static Shock and Black Lightning?

What's the difference between Static Shock and Black Lightning? The DC characters both have electric abilities that help them fight crime.

Kori Williams - Author

Nov. 19 2021, Published 4:08 p.m. ET

Black Lightning and Static Shock
Source: The CW and Warner Bros.

We all love a great superhero movie or show. If you grew up in the late '90s or early 2000s, then you probably know about Static Shock. The DC character — whose real name was Virgil Ovid Hawkins — had a series that followed him as a high school student after he was exposed to something called the Big Bang. This mutated his body and allowed him to control electricity. That kind of sounds like another hero we know.

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Some people have compared Static to Black Lightning, another DC character who can control electricity. Some even think they are the same character at different stages in life. We know Static is in high school, but when we meet Black Lightning (whose real name is Jefferson Pierce), it's after he's retired from being a hero. They aren't the same person, though. Here are some key differences between the two (besides their names).

What's the difference between Static Shock and Black Lightning?

Although on the surface it looks like these two characters could be the same, they actually have some foundational differences that make them stand apart from one another.


One of the most simple differences is they don't live in the same place. Static is from the fictional Dakota City. On the other hand, Black Lightning is from Freeland, Ga. (which is another made-up place, even though it's based in a real state).

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Static Shock
Source: Warner Bros.

Origin of abilities:

Next, it's important to remember that Static is a mutant. His exposure to the Big Bang is what gave him his powers, and said powers generate from his body. Black Lightning got his abilities another way. He wears the Electric Power Belt which allows him to create his own lightning. Without the belt, he'd be a regular human.

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Physical abilities:

On this one Static is really lacking. The Big Bang didn't do anything to enhance his strength, so he has to rely on a quick wit and an ability to maneuver swiftly to get away from and defeat enemies that could seriously hurt him. Plus, he was never athletic in school so that doesn't help him out in any way.

On the other hand, Black Lightning was involved in sports when he was in school and even competed in an Olympic Decathlon. Plus, he has martial arts training. On top of that, he's got super strength and he's able to use it to his advantage when faced with any number of opponents.

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Black Lightning's and Static Shock's abilities also give them different powers.

Even though both Black Lightning and Static Shock have similar electric abilities, they use them in different ways.


Both heroes can use their powers to get from A to B, but they have differing methods. Static uses his abilities to fly his Static Saucer. He got the idea from his best friend Richie Foley (who knew about his secret identity). The Saucer is the main way he gets around, but he can also use it as a shield and a weapon.

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What stands out about Black Lightning is that he has two modes of transport that can arguably be considered way more impressive than any device Static uses. Not only does Black Lightning have super speed, but he can also teleport using power conduits.

One power unique to each of them: Mind control and immortality.

Not having super strength probably isn't the biggest selling point for Static, but he has an immunity to mind control on his side. His electricity acts as a barrier around his brain at all times.

Richie Foley and Virgil Hawkins
Source: Warner Bros.

Black Lightning doesn't have this shield around his brain, but he is immortal. Or, at least he can be. He can manipulate the energy of his own cells. This allows him to heal himself quicker than other people and also means he can't be affected by diseases. While in his electric form, he doesn't need even oxygen.

You can watch Black Lightning on Netflix and Static Shock on HBO Max.

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