WASTED POTENTIAL: X-Men: First Class and the Death of Armando Muñoz
Or, How Racism F%#@ed the X-Men Movies
It’s no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am absolutely, ridiculously invested in the X-Men Cinematic Universe. Or, more specifically, I’m invested in what the XMCU could have been, if it had been approached as a cohesive whole rather than a series of vaguely confused attempts at continuity and Wolverine cameos.
For me, the biggest moment of missed potential comes with the death of Armando “Darwin” Muñoz at the midpoint of X-Men: First Class. People have talked, of course, about how his death was racist and doesn’t make sense – because it was racist, and fundamentally, it doesn’t make sense.
To be fair, I don’t think the writers were being intentionally racist when they killed Armando off in the same scene where the movie’s only other black character defects to the side of the bad guys. I don’t think they were being intentionally racist when they had a Nazi kill a black man, who, in the comics, is literally and demonstrably unkillable.
But they did these things, and these things were racist.
And to be honest, that racism kinda f%#@ed the franchise. It’s not the only thing that did – the decision to put ten year timeskips in between each movie of the second trilogy certainly didn’t help matters – but I think that it’s the single bad decision that, if averted, would have changed everything.
Under the cut, I’ll discuss why Armando was such a significant character, and why his death shaped the direction of the franchise by destroying some pretty epic narrative possibilities.
(Trigger Warnings for: mentions of suicide, depression, trauma, real life racism, human experimentation. Nothing more explicit than XMCU canon, however.)