The DC universe as it exists on The CW has to be a pretty great place for actors to appear. With three shows tackling different aspects of the superhero genre, few major characters can really be qualified as totally, 100%, super dead and never coming back. Former Walking Dead actress Emily Kinney found a role on The Flash and Arrow that hasn't yet resulted in a heartbreaking death scene, and now her former Walking Dead co-star Chad L. Coleman will also join The CW's DC universe with an important villainous role in Season 5 of Arrow.
Chad L. Coleman will be tackling the part of gangster Tobias Church in a recurring role for Arrow Season 5, according to IGN. He'll make his debut in the season premiere and show up throughout the fifth season to further his goal of uniting all the criminal factions of Star City under his command. Frankly, his role on Arrow sounds about as far from his role on The Walking Dead as is possible. Tyreese would probably be terrified of Tobias.
The original description of the new Star City gangster named the character "Anton Church." There's no Anton Church in DC comic lore, so it seemed likely that the name was a pseudonym for whatever comic baddie was really in the works for Season 5. The reveal that the character's actual name will be Tobias Church -- who also doesn't exist in the comics -- indicates that he will be one of the few big Arrow villains who will be original to the series.
That said, Arrow has drawn on a legendary villain of television rather than comics for inspiration for Tobias Church, and the new gangster will be an apex predator of a criminal loosely based on Idris Elba's Stringer Bell of The Wire. The Stringer Bell-esque character will set his sights on taking down Oliver as the major threat to his underworld activities. Given that Oliver is now both mayor and vigilante, he may be a target of Church on two fronts.
Interestingly, Chad L. Coleman appeared alongside Idris Elba on The Wire. He should have a unique perspective to really channel what was so terrifyingly awesome about Stringer Bell for Tobias Church on Arrow.
This casting news is even more exciting considering Stephen Amell's promise that Arrow is getting back to its basics for Season 5, which will involve less of an emphasis on magic and superpowers. Tobias Church could be far scarier if he's just a man rather than a metahuman or a magic-user, since metahumans have inevitable weaknesses that can be exploited, and magic-users are reliant on totems and items. Oliver will have to return to his roots as a strategist and a fighter to face off against an enemy whose strengths and weaknesses may in fact be the same as his own, just with guns instead of arrows. Coleman has the size and presence to believably stand up against Stephen Amell as Oliver Queen.
We can't say at this point if Tobias Church is going to be the big bad of Season 5. Seasons 1 - 3 all waited a while before introducing the main villain, and Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim has recently said that Legends of Tomorrow will be using the Arrow Seasons 1 - 3 model to improve how it handles its next bad guy. Tobias making his debut in the Season 5 premiere may actually rule him out as Oliver's next major nemesis, unless they're keen to handle him like Damien Darhk. Either way, Chad L. Coleman should be able to handle the role for however many appearances he'll have on Arrow.
Unfortunately, Arrow is currently on hiatus, so it'll be a while before we get to see Chad L. Coleman as Tobias Church. Check out our breakdown of what we know so far about Season 5 for a peek ahead, and you can find everything debuting in the meantime with our summer TV schedule.
Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel, but will sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation.
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