Superman And Lois’ Chad L. Coleman Explains What Makes Bruno Mannheim Such A Compelling Antagonist, And How He Differs From Arrow’s Tobias Church
If The Walking Dead actor Chad L. Coleman playing a villain on a DC TV show from The CW sounds familiar to you, it’s because he played crime lord Tobias Church back in Arrow Season 5, who met an unfortunate demise at the hands of Prometheus. This time around, Coleman is appearing in Superman & Lois Season 3 as Bruno Mannheim, a longtime enemy of the Man of Steel’s from the comics. Ahead of this new season’s premiere, I spoke with Coleman about what makes his version of Mannheim such a compelling antagonist, as well as how this character differs from what Church brought to the table in Arrow.
Per the official character description from The CW, Superman & Lois’ Bruno Mannheim is known to the people of Metropolis as “a local hero” and “a philanthropist who’s revived the struggling neighborhoods of the city.” However, like his comic book counterpart, Chad L. Coleman’s Mannheim actually leads the criminal organization Intergang, albeit in secret, and Elizabeth Tulloch’s Lois Lane has been been trying to for years to uncover proof of his illegal activities. During my conversation with Coleman, I asked him what makes him such a worthy antagonist to throw into the Superman & Lois mix, and he answered:
I think more than anything, it’s the sociopolitical layers that speak to situations and circumstances that are going on in the world that ground it even more. It really grounds it in something that people can identify with and causes you to reexamine certain characters and how you perceive them. This man makes a very compelling argument for a different perspective on Superman and Lois. That’s what they kept saying, he’s the type of guy who you’re going, ‘Well, he does make a lot of sense. That does make sense. That’s true, that’s real.’ And that aspect of it… there’s a lot of power behind that, it gives it a different relevancy. It’s still escapism, but it’s more of a hybrid.
Bruno Mannheim is one of the two majors villains who’ve been announced to appear in Superman & Lois Season 3, the other being Lex Luthor, who’s being played by fellow Walking Dead alum Michael Cudlitz. It’s unclear if Mannheim and Luthor will cross paths during the season, but Chad L. Coleman made it abundantly clear that the former is a formidable threat all on his own. Let’s also not forget towards the end of Superman & Lois Season 2’s finale, David Ramsey’s John Diggle revealed to Wolé Parks’ John Henry Irons and Mannheim is believed to be the man who killed the version of Irons who originated from Superman & Lois’ Earth (which is separate from the main Arrowverse continuity), although why he did so is a mystery.
As for how Chad L. Coleman’s version of Bruno Mannheim stands out compared to Tobias Church, the actor laid out that Mannheim is a more cerebral opponent, meaning we should be way more worried about what he’s up to compared to what Church did during his brief stint on Arrow. Coleman explained:
Tobias was a more visceral, physical presence, and Bruno, it’s his mind. Even though he has this physical power and presence, it’s more calculated in his thinking. [He’s] a strategist. He’s playing chess and Tobias was playing checkers. That’s why he went out so fast. How [Bruno] relates to power is from his mind, what he’s thinking. ‘How am I gonna be able to seduce this person?’… He is manipulative. His mind is incredible, how he thinks and pieces things together. And then he’s just incredibly drive, and it’s for very specific reasons that are heartfelt.
With a setup like that, I’m eager to learn how Bruno Mannheim will antagonize Superman & Lois’ eponymous protagonists and their allies. In addition to Chad L. Coleman and Michael Cudlitz coming aboard, Season 3 is also bringing in Michael Bishop to take over as Jonathan Kent following Jordan Elsass’ departure. Given the shakeups at The CW over the last year, it’s unclear if Superman & Lois will return for Season 4, although Wolé Parks is optimistic that there will be at least one more batch of episodes.
Superman & Lois Season 3 premieres tonight at 8 pm ET on The CW. Be sure to look through our 2023 TV schedule to keep track of what shows are on the air now or will be hitting the airwaves/streaming soon, and don’t forget you can stream Superman & Lois’ first two seasons with an HBO Max subscription.