The recently announced El Muerto movie has to be the strangest idea that Sony has decided on yet. A new entry in its still relatively nascent Spider-Man Cinematic Universe, the movie is based around a character with only two real comic book appearances. To call El Muerto obscure would be an understatement, causing many fans to respond with either laughter or confusion with his movie’s announcement.
As questionable and outright bizarre as the movie may seem from the audience’s perspective, El Muerto could actually become a hit. A combination of diversity, both in terms of the characters and their narrative, plus smart budgeting could ensure that the most unlikely Spider-Verse becomes its biggest success.
Sony’s El Muerto Sounds Like An Incredibly Dumb Idea
Sony has had some strange ideas for its Spider-Man universe before, such as its many “failed” attempts at bringing together the Sinister Six. Its most recently announced movie plan still takes the cake, however. El Muerto is a “Spider-Man” character that even die-hard fans either do not remember or failed to ever read about. Having two issues of prominence, the Mexican wrestler tangled with Spider-Man as part of his feud with El Dorado, a veritable god of wrestling. Since that story, there’s been nothing done with the character to flesh him out or showcase how he might be viable for a full-fledged property. At the same time, he’s one of several Spider-Man characters that Sony owns the cinematic rights to, so it is within some form of reason to take advantage of this fact.
Even in this case, it’s incredibly odd that such a nothing character would be given a movie before literally anyone else connected to the Spider-Verse. His lack of any real use or development makes the similarly newly introduced DC character Naomi seem like she has a storied history in comparison. The movie will be coming out in 2024, giving Sony plenty of time to change audience perceptions of this shocking movie. The result of this could be a film that not only surpasses the currently rather low expectations but also makes them a pretty peso at the box office.
How El Muerto Could Actually Succeed
For one, there’s the obvious diversity aspect of El Muerto. Starring Bad Bunny and focusing on Latin cultural elements, the movie could cross barriers that many superhero films do not. It will only be the second Latino-led superhero movie after the DCEU’s Blue Beetle movie. Especially if the film is actually good, it could definitely cash in at the box office in Latin regions, namely Mexico and Puerto Rico (the latter due to Bad Bunny’s nationality). The luchador aspect of the story also adds diversity in another way: narratively. Superhero movies have begun to fall into a rut, with the relatively grounded and noir-inspired The Batman being the latest to actually try shaking things up. By making El Muerto more of an over-the-top sports / wrestling movie than a generic superhero movie, the film can reach audiences and push the genre forward in ways that typical films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe could not.
Perhaps the biggest way that the movie can succeed financially is by not having that much money to make back. There are no real budget-intensive elements to El Muerto’s character or mythos, and he’s essentially just a slightly superhuman wrestler. Sure, there should be all manner of high-flying moves in the ring and making this look as close to the real thing as possible would help. At the same time, none of this requires much CGI or expensive special effects techniques, so the movie as a whole should be the cheapest Spider-Verse film yet. Keep it that way, and Sony would have to try to make El Muerto bomb.
Of course, this also depends on whether or not Spider-Man himself shows up in the story, as he’s part of El Muerto’s story in the comics. Having Spidey show up and do whatever a spider can would ratchet up the budget, especially if it’s Andrew Garfield playing him. At the same time, this would also put butts in proverbial seats, making the film a must-see for Webslinger enthusiasts. Hopefully, the end result is a movie more warmly received than most of the Spider-Verse so far, but for right now, Sony will have to pin some viewers to the mat to make them give El Muerto a chance.
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