British actor David Ajala will be playing the role of the anti-hero Manchester Black in Supergirl season 4. Ajala's casting was announced during the show's panel at San Diego Comic Con and is the latest casting shake-up for the series. It had been previously announced that Nicole Maines, April Parker Jones, and Sam Witwer would also be joining the show.
First introduced in Action Comics #775, Manchester Black was a telepathic and telekinetic British superhero, who sported a punk aesthetic and a moral code that allowed for killing super-villains as a first resort. Black and his superhero team, The Elite, came into conflict with Superman over their brutal methods as he tried to show them a better way. They eventually came to blows, with Superman proving that he could defeat them without resorting to lethal force and Manchester Black swearing that he would prove Superman wrong and drive him to someday break his moral code. This battle was adapted into a full-length animated movie, Superman vs The Elite, and Black recently emerged into the modern Superman comics of the DC Rebirth universe.
CBR reported on Ajala's casting in the upcoming season of Supergirl. Previously seen in roles in Doctor Who and The Dark Knight, Ajala is perhaps best known for playing the role of Ivory in the Fast and Furious 6. Little has been said about the role Manchester Black will play in the new season, beyond his being "the type of guy who brings a knife to a gunfight and still walks away the winner" and one who "easily deflects the brutality of his mission with his charm and sense of humor."
The rest of the series' new cast are similarly unique. Sam Witwer (Smallville, Battlestar Galactica) will be playing Agent Liberty - a jingoistic vigilante, who will lead a militia group known as The Children of Liberty. April Parker Jones (Jericho, The Last Ship) will play a career military woman named Colonel Haley. The most daring new character of all, however, is Nia Nal - the first transgender superhero on television - who will use the code name Dreamer and be based on a classic Legion of Super-Heroes character called Dream Girl. Dreamer will be played by real-life Transgender activist/ actor Nicole Maines.
Ajala's casting coupled with these other casting notes hints at a more political focus for Supergirl's fourth season and a focus on the morality of Supergirl's mission. Manchester's chief role in his comic book appearances was to act as a moral foil to Superman, questioning his methods and his self-righteousness in telling other people they were wrong in how they went about trying to help others. Given that the other new characters for this season include a by-the-book military officer, an uber-patriot vigilante and a transgender activist, it seems likely that there will be multiple conflicts stemming from different peoples' ideals as to the definition of "good."