Bad Bunny cast as Marvel’s first live-action Latino lead

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Grace Da Rocha

Illustration: Puerto Rican rapper Bad Bunny will be taking on the role of El Muerto, a lesser-known hero from Marvel’s “Spider-Man” comics, in Sony’s 2024 movie about the character.

Mariana Montaya, Reporter

Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, the Puerto Rican rapper known as Bad Bunny, is entering the Spider-Man universe in the form of luchador El Muerto, making him Marvel’s first Latino lead in a live-action film.

Sony’s “El Muerto” will star Bad Bunny as Juan-Carlos Sanchez, a lesser-known character from Marvel’s “Spider-Man” comics that draws his powers from a magical mask and eventually partners with Spider-Man to defeat a wrestling god named El Dorado. The film is set to hit theaters on Jan. 12, 2024.

“It’s amazing, it’s incredible,” Bad Bunny said during Sony’s announcement at CinemaCon in April. “I love wrestling. I grew up watching it, and now I’m a wrestler. This is why I love this character. I think it’s the perfect role [for] me. It will be epic.”

The Latino artist’s casting, along with the release of his new album “Un Verano Sin Ti,” comes to the pleasant surprise of many loyal fans.

“I think it’s super cool that Benito got casted to be El Muerto because the Marvel universe is such a big deal in our generation,” Chris Lagunas, a business administration major, said. “I also really enjoyed his participation in WrestleMania, so I’m sure his character is going to add a lot of those elements. He’s also a master of his craft so I know he’s going to kill it.”

With the addition of Marvel’s first Latino lead in a live-action film, the topic of Latino representation in the media has resurfaced. The USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative found that Hispanic and Latino characters accounted for only 5% of speaking roles in 1,300 popular movies released between 2007 and 2019. The number of leads is even smaller, with only 3.5% of films having a Hispanic or Latino lead or co-lead.

“More than anything, I would hope that [Bad Bunny’s casting] bridges connections amongst our community to be able to have more productive conversations that can lead for us to unite and ask [and], like, demand for more Latino representation in Hollywood in the future. Our community deserves it,” Lagunas said.

Lourdes Illingworth, a cinema and television arts major, is hopeful that Bad Bunny’s casting could be a step in the right direction for more Latino representation in Hollywood.

“As someone who studied media theory, [Bad Bunny’s casting] was super [important] to me. Having representation of minority communities is so, so important — whether it be [a] Latinx superhero or a Latinx doctor,” Illingworth said. “I’m hoping this is the beginning of the door opening for more [representation] for our community members.”

Although Lagunas and Illingworth are excited about Bad Bunny taking on the role of El Muerto, Josue Hernandez is not entirely sure if the casting choice was appropriate for the character.

“When I first heard about his casting, I thought to myself, wow he’s going to do amazing. But as I looked at the specifics of El Muerto, I started to get mixed feelings because El Muerto is set to be a Mexican luchador,” said Hernandez, an anthropology major. “Personally, I really would have really appreciated another artist, perhaps a Mexican artist, would have taken the role.”

Even though Hernandez expressed mixed feelings toward the casting choice, he still thinks that the popularity of Bad Bunny will help create more traction in Hollywood for Latinos to be seen.

“I am going to watch the film and keep an open mind, but I do think this is important visibility for us Latinos,” Hernandez said.

Despite the continued lack of Latino representation in the media industry, Hernandez, Illingworth and Lagunas all seem hopeful that Bad Bunny’s appearance as El Muerto will be another step toward more Latinos in Hollywood.

“Representation, especially in Marvel, means [that] my nieces, nephews and all the younger generations that come after us get to see themselves in a superhero,” Lagunas said. “That brings me so much pride and joy as a fellow Boricua.”