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Latino superheroes save the day in Hollywood

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Latinos are a big part of the US box office, and during the pandemic they’ve helped keep movie theaters open. Last year, they made up 24% of moviegoers, according to The Cinema Association. Many of the new blockbusters are superhero movies with Latinx actors or characters.

For example, this year’s Marvel movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness features a 14-year-old Latinx superhero named America Chávez.

“She can punch star-shaped portals that allow her to travel across the multiverse and that’s a power no one else really has,” says Xochitl Gomez, who plays the live-action hero. .

The first time we see Chavez on screen, menacing creatures chase her and Doctor Strange, and the superheroes talk to each other in Spanish. “Spanish words. In a Marvel movie. That’s huge,” remarks Gomez.

Gomez is enthusiastic about the Latinx superhero, who uses Mexican slang, wears a red, white and blue jacket and an LGBTQ plus lapel pin. “Seeing how much it means to the fans, especially the young brunette girls, to be on this superhero journey…I get stopped in the street (by fans) saying ‘I feel so seen because you are the. “”

“There’s validity when we see ourselves represented,” says Victoria Alonso, executive producer of Marvel Studios’ biggest global movie releases. She is honored by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation as a visionary.

Alonso says she worked for many years to bring America Chavez and other diverse characters to the big screen.

“Superheroes give you the chance to dream of becoming someone with a different power,” she says. “But at the end of the day, all of our stories bring you back to your power.”

Soon other superheroes played by Latin actresses: Colombian-American Sasha Street is the new Supergirl in the upcoming Glow film. Another Colombian, Rachel Zegler, will play a superpowered goddess in Shazam! Fury of the gods.

Unlike Chavez, these characters do not identify as Latina. In that sense, they are more like the TV superhero wonder woman.

But some Latino superheroes struggle. The CW network recently dropped its planned television series of wonderful girl, the fictional daughter of an Amazon warrior and a Brazilian river god. It’s been said that Supergirl might not get her movie or TV series after Glow.

And then there is bat girl.

Dominican Leslie Grace shot all of her scenes as Batgirl before Warner Bros. Discovery is only doping the film, apparently as a tax deduction.

Furious fans leak movie footage and make their own trailers online with Warner Bros. as villains.

The bat girl news has fans worried about other DC superheroes, such as blue beetlewhose feature film is scheduled for release next summer.

“I’m not going to lie. There was concern, anger, fear at the beginning,” says Puerto Rican director Angel Manuel Soto. He says studio executives reassured him blue beetle will not suffer the same fate as bat girl. “They told me not to worry, the movie has their full support.”

Actor Xolo Mariduea stars as Jaime Reyes, who becomes “Blue Beetle” when implanted with super-powered alien armor. “He’s kind of like an amalgamation of Green Lantern and Iron Man. He has a space beetle that’s attached to his body called Khaji da.”

The 21-year-old actor, who also stars in Cobra Kai, says Blue Beetle is one of the oldest characters in the DC Universe. But this Blue Beetle is new.

“He’s a first-generation Mexican-American kid from El Paso, Texas,” says Mariduea.

Gareth Dunnet Alcocer wrote the screenplay for blue beetle, which follows the journey of Reyes and his entire family. “What would my mother do if alien technology burrowed into my spine? She wouldn’t find it cool,” says Alcocer. “And for the Reyes family, it’s terrible. ‘We’re going to get the attention of American institutions, the government, the military, the police.'”

Alcocer says he grew up in Mexico, he was never linked to ultra-rich superheroes like Batman or Iron Man. But he enjoyed a naïve, accident-prone TV superhero from the 1970s: Chapuln Colorado.

Mexican comedian Roberto Gmez Bolaos, whose stage name is Chesperito, created the satirical character. He wore a red and yellow outfit with antennae, and his power was just being a nice guy. According to Alcocer, unlike the confident and powerful American superheroes, Chapuln Colorado is “just this cunning, fallible, super skinny, scared, slightly depressed guy”.

There were other Mexican superheroes in film and television: Kaliman, the incredible man had telepathic powers. And The Saint was a masked Lucha Libre wrestler, a luchador who fought zombies, vampires, Frankenstein, and rivals like Blue Demon.

“The oldest superheroes are the luchadores,” explains video game industry promoter Hugo Abel Castro Duarte. At this year’s Comic-Con in San Diego, he hosted a panel on Mexican superheroes.

“Luchadores wore Spandex in the late 1800s, long before Superman and Batman wore Spandex,” he says. “So we kind of joke that they copied us in Spandex and their masks and their capes.”

Puerto Rican superstar Bad Bunny has been cast as a luchador named “The deadin an upcoming Spider-Man spin-off. Over the years, Spidey has appeared in many guises. In 2018, he was Miles Morales, a lively, bilingual Puerto Rican kid in New York City.

On the screen, many foxes have left their mark, embodied by actors from Douglas Fairbanks in 1920 to Antonio Banderas in 1998. Today, the actor Wilmer Valderrama develops a Zorro Television series for Disney. And filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and his sister Rebecca are working on a modern day woman Zorro.

Peruvian American filmmaker Alex Rivera also working on Zoro 2.0 a cyberpunk story about an undocumented kid named Oscar Vega.

Rivera says the original Zorro’s storywritten in 1919, was based on the legendary bandit Joaquin Murrieta from the 1850s. Zorro was Don Diego De La Vega in colonial California.

“By day, he writes poetry and complains about having a bad back. But at night, he takes on this other identity of an avenger with a mask and a cape that defends the poor,” explains Rivera. “This image of the rich man by day, vengeful by night is taken up by the creators of Batman. So I always say that Batman has a Mexican father.”

As Hollywood looks for ways to boost the box office and stay culturally relevant, Zorro, Blue Beetle, America Chavez and other Latinx superheroes are poised to save the day.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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