The crew member who died on the set of Marvel’s Wonder Man this week was an Army veteran who once survived a catastrophic IED explosion while serving in the Middle East, according to sources who knew him well.
Juan “Spike” Wu Osorio died on Tuesday while working as a rigger on the Wonder Man set at CBS Radford Studios in Los Angeles. The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health is currently investigating his death.
Dave McGrory, a rigging gaffer who was Osorio’s boss for five years but who was not working on Wonder Man, told The Daily Beast that Osorio was a combat veteran who decided to join the U.S. Army after 9/11.
“The man made it out of Afghanistan, and didn’t make it out of the studio system,” McGrory said, before relaying a story about how Osorio once survived a bomb in Afghanistan.
“He was in a Humvee that drove over an IED which exploded. And he basically watched his closest guys die in front of him,” McGrory said. “And there was another firefight in a cave in Afghanistan, where he was wounded with some shrapnel. I know that because he got a scar under his left eye, from rock fragmentation.”
“For him to get out of that place, he’s a veteran, he’s a hero,” McGrory added.
Alex Ojeda, another colleague and a close friend of Osorio’s, relayed the same Humvee story to The Daily Beast, adding that Osorio did three tours in Afghanistan during his time in the Army.
After Osorio left the military, McGrory said, he “did his best… to kind of take the anger out of it and try to enjoy all the living things; try to shift that into more positive elements. He really enjoyed cultivating succulents. That was kind of his passion. And he had a passion for dogs and growing and breeding cactus, which he would sell at the farmers’ market in Temple City. Basically, loved his country, loved his friends, loved his union, and loved his wife.”
McGrory also described Osorio as “the most safe human being I’ve ever met,” especially when it came to being conscious of safety measures on set.
“No one in my local IATSE [union] is more concerned about the safety of himself and the safety of others. He was the guy that was most concerned,” McGrory said, adding, “I was his boss. He was my second in command. He was the mama bear. Everybody loves his man… I had [a colleague] tell me yesterday that their wife was crying, saying, ‘I don’t want you ever going up there ever again.’ And he told her, ‘I can’t say yes to that, because that’s just the job.’”
According to his IMDb page, Osorio, who was 41, worked as a technician on dozens of film and television projects dating back to 2006, including The Conners, Goliath, Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp, and the Disney+ series American Born Chinese.
Osorio was a member of IATSE Local 728, representing below-the-line workers. On Friday, IATSE shared a remembrance on behalf of Osorio’s family that includes mention of his military service:
“He was the best person who cared for all living things, a person that we all should strive to be. J.C. Spike Osorio was taken away from us too soon on February 6, 2024. He was the most wonderful, thoughtful, and loving husband, a caring son, a wise brother, a strong friend, a brave veteran, a euphorbia enthusiast, a meticulous lighting technician, and a stickler for safety at work.”
The remembrance continues, “He is survived by his wife, Joanne Osorio-Wu, his mother, Zoila Osorio, and his two schnauzers, Murphy Pastrami and Sirius Pickle. To paraphrase a line from one of his favorite podcasts, ‘He was Spike, he lives forever in every moment he existed, and swore to every star in the cosmos, that he never forgot it was a gift, not for one second.’”
Following Osorio’s death, his colleague Bill Martel organized a GoFundMe to support Osorio’s wife, Joanne, who also works in production as a boom operator. As of Friday afternoon, the GoFundMe had collected over $166,000 from more than 1,500 donors.
Martel wrote in the fundraiser’s description, “On February 6th, 2024, our friend Spike lost his life on the set of Marvels WonderMan shoot at CBS Radford studios due to a potential structural failure. We are hoping the Production Company, The Facility, MBS, Marvel Studios handles things properly, but expect a long road fraught with attorney fees and expenses. In the mean time, bills will be mounting and the widow, Boom Operator Joanne W. will be left to deal with everything. Help if you’re able, it’s greatly appreciated.”
Disney did not return The Daily Beast’s request for comment on the alleged “potential structural failure” that may have led to his death.