On Monday, Sony revealed that they are hard at work on the next entry in the Spider-Man cinematic universe. A No Way Home followup with Tom Holland? No, the other Spider-Man cinematic universe. The sadly delayed sequel to the beautiful Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse? No, the other other Spider-Man cinematic universe.
That would be what we’ll call the Sonyverse, the MCU’s very awkward step-sibling which may or may not be taking place in the same universe as Holland’s wall-crawler, depending on which end credits scene you’re watching. The long and short of it is that Sony owns the film rights to all of Marvel’s Spider-Man-related characters and while they’ve played nice with Spidey himself — hence his appearance in Disney’s Marvel Cinematic Universe — they’re still trying to create their own pocket universe of exclusively Spider-Man characters.
That’s led to movies like Tom Hardy’s Venom movies, Jared Leto’s much maligned Morbius flop and the upcoming Kraven the Hunter movie. And now, we can add Puerto Rican hip-hop phenomenon Bad Bunny to the Sonyverse, who will be playing iconic Spider-Man villain El Muerto in a solo film! Just one question: Who is El Muerto?
Even the most diehard Spider-Man fan might scratch their head at the announcement. Spider-Man has one of the largest and most colorful rogues’ galleries in superhero comics, with a vast array of well-known costumed crooks. Plenty of them have gotten a work out in the various Spider-flicks, but over the course of tens of thousands of Spider-Man comics stretching back to the 1960s, El Muerto has appeared in exactly two (2) issues.
He’s a guy with a wrestler theme, which works, since Bad Bunny has done some rounds as a pro wrestler. And, who knows? Maybe there’s a great story there. It’s definitely exciting that a Latino will finally get a lead in a Marvel movie, but with the comics’ vast number of Latino characters — a number which includes an actual Spider-Man, by the way — why are they giving a celebrity of Bad Bunny’s status a throwaway villain of the week?
Sony’s attempts to craft a film franchise out of Spider-scraps have been mixed at best. The Venom movies have done some qualified numbers thanks to Hardy’s committed performance, but Morbius was a notorious bust. It’s possible that El Muerto’s lack of name recognition could work to the studio’s advantage, since it can stand alone without superhero baggage and fan expectations hanging on to it. But how are they going to rope Hardy and Leto into a post credit scene to recruit El Muerto for whatever endgame Sony is pursuing here?
Time will tell. In the meantime, Spider-Man: Across the Spiderverse hits theaters next year. Can’t wait.