Latinx Files: How not to mess up Bad Bunny’s ‘El Muerto’

Gif illustration of Bad Bunny wearing a black and blue luchador mask
Bad Bunny, baby!
(Susana Sanchez / Los Angeles Times)

By now you’ve probably read that Benito Antonio Martínez Ocasio, alias el Bad Bunny, will become the first Latinx superhero to lead a live-action Marvel film in Sony Pictures’ upcoming “El Muerto.”

If you’re unfamiliar with the character, that’s likely because El Muerto is a very obscure figure that has a whoppin’ two total appearances in the comic books (2005’s “Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, issues 6 and 7). The entirety of his narrative arc is that he is a luchador unwillingly following in his father’s footsteps and that he has to wrestle Spider-Man in order not to be killed by a villain named El Dorado. Also, the mask is the source of his superhuman strength.

But while El Muerto is largely unknown, El Conejo Malo is one of the biggest stars in the world. He’s been Spotify’s most streamed artist for two years in a row. He’s bankable. The man convinced people to buy Crocs. Surely San Benito can sell a character with more stereotypes than backstory.


How do I feel about the whole thing?

*In deep The Rock Voice* It doesn’t matter what I think because Hollywood is going to continue to be Hollywood, and if they want to pander to a group of people they’ve long ignored but taken lots of money from, then that’s exactly what Hollywood is going to do!

But if they’re going to pander, then they should at least do it right. With that in mind, here’s a list of suggestions for Sony Pictures to make sure that “El Muerto” doesn’t suck as much as “Morbius” did. I have no idea how far along the studio is in the filmmaking process, but if they can delay the release of the first Sonic movie to make the hedgehog look less creepy, or reshoot a movie with a new actor to avoid the embarrassment of having Kevin Spacey in it, surely they can figure out a way to implement the following recommendations:

1. Make sure Bad Bunny doesn’t take off his mask. I know it sounds counterintuitive to not show the audience the face of the person they paid money to go see, but trust me on this one. Lucha Libre is all about the sacredness of the mask and the identity it protects. Besides, have you seen the levels of drippage displayed by El Santo and Blue Demon whenever they would wear regular clothes?

2. Speaking of El Santo and Blue Demon, have El Muerto fight some aliens or mummies. That’d be cool.

3. For the love of Aluche, do not use sepia filters for scenes set in Mexico. If Steven Soderbergh and Tony Scott (q.e.p.d.) couldn’t pull it off, there’s absolutely no chance whoever you get to direct this thing will. Better yet, don’t set it in Mexico at all. Use the American Southwest instead.

4. Make sure you include a few scenes of El Muerto cutting his teeth (and his body) by doing some backyard wrestling. I want to see a Soderbergh-like, handycam sequence of Bad Bunny being suplexed through a table.


5. El Muerto is originally from Magdalena de Kino, Sonora, which means you have to have some banda and/or narcocorridos in the soundtrack. Perhaps Bad Bunny can do a song featuring El Komander? You at least have to include a Chalino song.

5. Cameos. Lots of them. And I’m not talking about other superheroes, either (though I should note that a plainclothes Wolverine does show up in El Muerto’s first appearance). I want to see Cassandro El Exotico. I want to see Tinieblas, Mascara Sagrada, Thunder Rosa and Rey Mysterio Jr. Heck, if there’s not a scene in which el “Tropi” Casas and Tirantes are referees, then I’m going to consider this movie a dud.

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Things we read this week that we think you should read

— On Monday, a Texas court intervened and stopped the scheduled execution of Melissa Lucio, a woman convicted more than a decade ago of killing her 2-year-old child. Lucio has long maintained her innocence, and her case had drawn bipartisan support. The Texas Tribune has audio and a transcript of the phone call where Lucio finds out her life has been spared.

— In a display of colonialism, the United States Supreme Court ruled on Thursday that Puerto Ricans don’t have a right to federal benefits.

— The Washington Post is reporting that Rolando Hinojosa-Smith, the “dean of Chicano authors” and a native of the Rio Grande Valley (Puro 956, cuh!), has died. He was 93. From the obituary:

To many readers, including some who had never set foot in the Rio Grande Valley — the bilingual border region where he was raised and set most of his fiction — his books served as a kind of literary mirror, reflecting experiences that were often caricatured or ignored.

— Last Friday, Columnist Gustavo Arellano took over the “Essential California” newsletter and used it as an opportunity to write about Alex Perez, the first ever Mexican cartoonist/illustrator hired by the Los Angeles Times.

— This week I learned that “Soy El Único,” the chart-topping single from Yahritza y Su Esencia, drew inspiration from the very same place that made it famous. From Kristina Garcia’s story on the Yakima, Wash., group releasing their first EP:

“Soy El Unico” became a heartbreak anthem for many, yet it was written by a then-13-year-old who took inspiration by studying TikToks of other users going through their own relationship drama. She recalls reading one line from a TikTok she was watching, and that’s when it all clicked for her.

“It was, ‘Oh, you’re not gonna find anybody better than me.’ That’s where I got the idea from,” Yahritza said.


And now for something a little different.

Illustration of confetti, huaraches and candy
(Angélica Becerra )

Angélica Becerra is a Mexican-born, L.A.-raised artist podcast producer and scholar of political graphics. She is based in Washington state, where she is a postdoctoral fellow in digital technology and culture at Washington State University. When she isn’t drawing or teaching, she can be found keeping watch over her frijoles de la olla.

“This illustration was based on a recent visit I made to Pasco, Wash., a city two hours away from my current home in eastern Washington. Since moving away from Los Angeles, I have been incredibly homesick. I went to La Michoacana there, which has ice cream of course, but also mangoneadas, and tortas. Attached to it is a party supply store, where the ceiling is covered in piñatas. I left with tons of obleas, or wafers con cajeta (goat’s milk caramel), and picked up some huaraches on the way out. It felt like I was in the piñata district in DTLA, and for the first time in a long time, I felt at home again.”

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