HBO Max’s Peacemaker is not the typical comic book show. It uses comedy to disarm viewers, leaving them unsuspecting of the emotional roller coaster it’s about to take them on. The breakout star of Season 1 has been Chukwudi Iwuji, who plays fan-favorite Clemson Murn. He’s introduced as a ruthless mercenary whose reputation precedes him, but we discover Murn is even more crucial to the story than we originally thought. Iwuji spoke with The Root to discuss his unconventional role and his emotional moment with Danielle Brooks’ Adebayo.
In a moving scene, the actor caught fans’ attention when he revealed the truth about himself and his mission to Adebayo. Unlike the usual alien possession stories, this Butterfly is haunted by the fact that he’s in the body of such a horrible person. He has to live with Murn’s memories and is guilt-ridden that he’s stolen the possibility of redemption from him.
“I think what caused Murn the alien even more pain was that this terrible person might have had the capability for change, but I took that away from him by killing him,” Iwuji said. “It was just such a juicy reveal…when you think of the journey of Murn, you have this taciturn leader. Then you find out he’s an alien that’s conflicted. [It] was just very delicious, and it’s part of the attraction of playing the role.”
The actor didn’t think he was the right choice for Murn, but he liked the script so much, he auditioned for fun. He was given a scene from Episode 1 where Peacemaker wears his costume to a team meeting at a restaurant.
“I got these mysterious three audition pages from [Peacemaker creator] James Gunn. Initially, I wasn’t going to do it, because I thought I’m never going to get this part, this is the part for Lance Reddick, he’s perfect for this,” he said.
Iwuji knew about Murn’s true identity all along. In fact, it was one of the reasons he took the role.
“I never played the arc of the character, I played moment to moment, and that continued even after that reveal. I still have that single mission, which is to save the world, literally,” he said. “I don’t divert from that cause, but I think how you see me, how the audience relates to me, how Adebayo relates to me now that she knows changes. Murn doesn’t have time to feel sorry for himself.”
Thankfully, he got the part and viewers got this complex, nuanced new Black character to obsess over. Honestly, Black characters don’t usually exist in this gray area. They’re either heroes or villains. Iwuji as Murn stands out from the crowd in a way that’s too rich and captivating to only appear on Peacemaker.
Unfortunately, Murn fails in his mission, as his human body is shot several times, while his Butterfly is crushed. His sacrifice inspires the team to rally and defeat the Butterflies. Though his death looks pretty final, I’ve watched enough comic book movies and shows to know no one is ever really dead, so my fingers are crossed that Murn finds a way to come back in the just-announced Season 2.
Iwuji’s time on Peacemaker may be over, but he has a presence that we’ll definitely be talking about in the future. Writer/director James Gunn was so impressed that he offered the scene-stealing actor a role in Marvel Studios’ Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3. So when he becomes a big movie star, remember who told you about him.
Peacemaker Season 1 featuring Iwuji and Danielle Brooks is available on HBO Max.