The show that currently has everybody talking is HBO Max’s Peacemaker in the DCEU. Starring John Cena, the series sees his character after the events of The Suicide Squad getting scooped right back up and put into another team he doesn’t want to be a part of. However, this time, Chukwudi Iwuji’s Clemson Murn is leading the operations.
Murn is a no-nonsense kind of guy—or, to be technical, a no-nonsense Butterfly. The man behind the team leader has done a fantastic job at embodying this new and engrossing character, who has no past in any DC Comics source material.
Clearly, the project’s writer and director James Gunn felt the same, as he brought Imwuji onto his next film, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. The details of that role aren’t known, but rumors heavily suggest he will be playing The High Evolutionary, someone who would be one of the main villains, if not the big bad.
So what was it like working with Gunn and going from something in the DC world like Peacemaker and then heading straight into the world of MCU blockbusters?
From Peacemaker to Guardians
Talking in a press roundtable with various outlets, including The Direct, Peacemaker and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 actor Chukwudi Iwuji discussed how his work with writer and director James Gunn began and how going from DC to Marvel has been.
Having now been in two of James Gunn's projects consecutivelt, it begs the question: how did Iwuji meet the famous director?
It turns out it wasn’t so glamorous. The very first contact between the two happened when “he accidentally butt-dialed [him]:”
“I never met him. In fact, the first time I met James [Gunn] he accidentally butt-dialed me on Christmas Eve by mistake on Facetime. That’s when I first met him. So I got the role [of Clemson Murn] never meeting him.”
The two “gelled so much” that Imwuji was offered his role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 as they were filming the infamous dance number for Peacemaker:
“And then you come on, and then you start working, and we gelled so much… he pushed me and liked what I did. But for Guardians [of the Galaxy Vol.3], that was weird because on the day we shot the dance sequence, we were shooting it, and James came up to me and said, ‘can I have a word with you?... I want you to play in Guardians of the Galaxy [Vol.] 3. That’s typical James.”
As for his character in the upcoming MCU sequel, the actor only let slip that the role in question “couldn’t be more different from Murn:”
“And so we did a screentest a couple of months later to show the powers at be. That’s how he did it. I don’t know what he saw in me in Murn, because this character [that I’m playing in Guardians] couldn’t be more different from Murn.”
When asked if there was any additional pressure for his performance in Peacemaker after being cast in Guardians, Imwuji said that he “[didn’t want to] go on and try to do anything else” extra, or “screw anything up” by doing too much:
“It was definitely don’t go and try to do anything else. Don’t screw anything up. Just shut up. You know in the days of dating when the date’s going well, and you think it's going well and then you just start talking, and you can hear yourself overtalking and you’re like, ‘ stop talking, you’re good. Stop that.’ And you can’t stop yourself. I didn’t want that to be the case… So I just did with the role what I try to do always. Guardians [was] not for another, I don’t know how many months at the time it was, [but] my focus was Murn, and I have this journey to do with Murn. So I’m gonna just keep doing it. So I didn’t allow any pressure to come on me. The sort of craziness was sort of.”
Did Iwuji ever think he would be a part of these massive superhero projects? The actor expressed that “[he] can’t imagine myself ever once sitting going, ‘I really wanna play a superhero:”
“I can’t wrap my head around thinking in terms of—I can’t imagine myself ever once sitting going, ‘I really wanna play a superhero.’ As much as I loved Marvel, and I loved DC movies, I’ve watched all of them. I never sat there going, ‘I would really like to b part of this.’ Because maybe there was a side of me that just didn’t think I would do it. That I would always just be a fan of it, so there’s no rhyme or reason to how this business works…”
The upcoming MCU star went on to reminisce about how back in 2014 he remembers being in the audience watching The Guardians of the Galaxy, and now he “it’s almost too big to wrap [his] head around” being a part of that franchise:
“I remember specifically being in Times Square in New York [City] in 2014 and going to see Guardians [of the Galaxy]. The idea of being the same guy who went to see that in Times Square as an audience member now being in it, it’s almost too big to wrap my head around.”
Chukwudi Iwuji Plays Both Sides
Guardians of the Galaxy fans, and MCU fans in general, are probably safe to get excited about Iwuji’s inclusion in the upcoming threequel. Not only has his performance been excellent so far in John Cena’s spinoff, but with Gunn so confident in his abilities, the Guardians may have quite the fearsome foe ahead of them.
It’s easy to look forward to the actor’s future with Marvel Studios, but there’s still a journey with Murn to finish as he mentioned above. With two episodes left, and a final assault on the Butterflies to go, there’s plenty more to be had on the DC side.
If his character is alive by the end of the HBO Max series, he could be one of the first recurring actors for both DC and Marvel live-action projects. A unique position for one to be in, especially given he never thought much about being a part of those worlds as an actor.
Here’s to hoping that fans on both sides of the line (if there is even a line to begin with) have plenty more Iwuji performances to go.
The first six episodes of Peacemaker now streaming on HBO Max.