Bad Bunny's 'Spider-Man' Spin-off Movie Shows Marvel's Latino Character Problem
Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny continues his slow takeover of all corners of pop culture: after showing up in F9, some WWE matches, and the town of Springfield, the two-time Grammy winner is getting his own superhero movie in Sony's Spider-Man-less Spider-Man Universe. Reportedly, the execs were so impressed by the reggaetoner's performance in Brad Pitt's upcoming Bullet Train that they offered him a role as ... uh, a character who has appeared in two comics ever.
Mr. Bunny is set to play "El Muerto," a mystically-powered Mexican luchador who first appeared in Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #6 (2006). In that issue, El Muerto convinces Spider-Man to go back to his wrestling roots and fight him in a charity match, supposedly to prove who's strongest -- but in reality, El Muerto is only doing this because the immortal being who killed his father told him he'd come for him next if he didn't "humiliate and unmask" a masked hero (personally, we would have gone with someone like Forbush Man or Hawkeye). El Muerto has spent ten years intensely training for this moment, and somewhat less intensely learning English.
In the next issue, Spider-Man and El Muerto team up to take down his father's killer, and ... that's it, that's the last time he ever appeared. It's kind of funny that out of the 900 or so Spider-Man-related characters Sony owns, they picked a mega-obscure one who hasn't been in a comic in 16 years to headline a movie starring a high profile musical artist … but looking at the list of Marvel's Latino superheroes, they really didn't have much to choose from in terms of fan recognition.
Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes? Not a Spider-Man character; Sony gave up the rights to that franchise after deciding that audiences didn't want to see Nic Cage set his skull on fire anymore. Spider-Man 2099? Oscar Isaac is playing him in Across the Spider-Verse, so that'd probably get confusing, plus he doesn't seem like a good fit for Bad Bunny. Same with Miles Morales -- incidentally, it's kinda ironic that the single most recognizable Latino Marvel character is known as "the Black Spider-Man."
That might change if Miss America Chavez takes off after Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and if the barrage of X-Men films that are for sure coming soon make good use of characters like Rictor, Sunspot, and, of course, Goldballs. Of course, that wouldn't be much help to Sony, who only seems to have two options if they want some diversity in their Marvel adaptations: 1) continue scraping the bottom of the barrel, or 2) anger the internet by changing the race of one of the more notable characters they own. Although, who knows, maybe their most recent movie would have been better received if it was about Dr. Miguel Morbius, el Vampiro Viviente.
There's also option 3) invent new characters, but we're assuming that'll get you launched through a window if you dare suggest it at Sony, considering they paid for those 900 characters and most have been sitting there since the ‘90s. Hey, there’s an idea: a movie about 900 superheroes and villains chilling in a vault while Sony decides if they want to use them. Call us, whoever's in charge there.
Top image: Glenn Francis, www.PacificProDigital.com/Wikimedia Commons, Marvel Comics