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Hispanic Superheroes Making Up For Lack of Diversity

If we talk about diversity based on numbers, the presence of Hispanics in Hollywood is far from what it should be, no matter how much we continue to think about it.

The Hispanic community is 19 percent of the US population. According to the MPA (Motion Picture Association), it was Latinos who bought 29 percent of the tickets in 2020. However, as this year made clear in the study on Diversity in Hollywood prepared annually by UCLA, Latino actors only had 5.7 percent of the leading roles in this industry.

And when it comes to behind-the-scenes jobs, like directors or screenwriters, Latino presence is almost non-existent.

But that’s what superheroes are for – to come to the rescue. That’s what they seem to be doing in the Hispanic community, offering them a genre for their visibility revolution. As the Mexican actress Mabel Cadena exclaimed on her social media platforms, “Mom, I’m a superhero!”

The 31-year-old performer, best known in Mexico for her work in soap operas, appears in her first American film, Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever, one of the most diverse and anticipated titles of the year.

It’s a film in which her compatriot Tenoch Huerta costars as Namor, one of the inhabitants of the aquatic kingdom of Atlantis. In real life, he is part of an activist movement for diversity already known in Hollywood as the “Prieto Power.”

“I want to say something about the issue of inclusion,” he said excitedly, microphone in hand during the presentation of Wakanda Forever in this year’s edition of the San Diego Comic-Con. “I come from a neighborhood in Mexico and I am here thanks to inclusion. Many of the young people where I grew up will be able to see this video and be inspired to make their dreams come true.”

If the recent Comic-Con is an indication of cinema coming to us, which was also reflected in the recent D23, a convention that has Disney studios and associates at the center of its universe, then the Latino community will have superheroes to cheer on screens for years to come.

In addition to the presence of Tenoch and Cadena in Wakanda Forever, a title that also includes the Mexican-born Lupita Nyong’o, the presentation of the Marvel Cinematic Universe at D23 saw an unprecedented greater number of names in Spanish.

Anthony Ramos, a Golden Globe nominee for his work in In the Heights, enters this world this year with his work in Ironheart, where he plays “a complex guy who hits hard,” he told the D23 audience about his role as Parker Robbins/The Hood.



He may not be a hero, but as the man at the helm of Marvel Studios, Kevin Feige, clarified, he is someone who moves “between the heroes and villains born of technology and those who have their own magic.”

A more popular name among Hispanics and Anglos is that of Gael García Bernal, winner of the Golden Globe for Mozart in the Jungle. In Werewolf by Night, he turns into werewolf-like Jack Russell, someone who has learned to master what was the family curse of lycanthropy and who will use his powers to fight “against demons and other forces of evil.”

Moon Knight, thanks to the interpretation of the Guatemalan Golden Globe winner Oscar Isaac in the title role, is a miniseries with seven Emmy nominations and a victory for the Spanish Anele Onyekwere.

The title of the first Hispanic superhero on the screen will be taken by Bad Bunny, whose real name is Benito Martínez Ocasio. The Puerto Rican singer and now, also an actor with films like Bullet Train, will be El Muerto, a fighter whose superpowers pass from generation to generation and who at CinemaCon was presented by Sony studios as “the antihero” of Marvel, someone about to inherit his father’s powers.

They are not all superheroes. Sometimes the heroes don’t wear capes or have superpowers but they are still heroic and Hispanic. That is the case with Diego Luna, at the head of the long-awaited Andor series where he returns to the spy he played in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story but five years earlier, telling the story of ordinary people in the Empire.

It’s an adventure where he is also accompanied by Adria Arjona, Puerto Rican from birth, Mexican in upbringing, and the daughter of famous Guatemalan singer Ricardo Arjona.

Of course, the Chilean Pedro Pascal returns as a hero in The Mandalorian, while his fellow adventurer of Puerto Rican blood, Rosario Dawson, will have her own series that will bear the name of her character, Ahsoka.

Even in animation, loud and clear Hispanic voices are being heard, led by Miles Morales who was the first Latinx to put on the Spider-Man tights in the Spider-Verse.

In the film Elio, directed by Adrián Molina, Mexican of origin, Yonas Asunción Kibreab voices the titular character, the spokesman for humanity in space even if he is only a child. Elio is raised by Olga, a mother played by the Golden Globe winner for Ugly Betty, América Ferrera.

In the live-action adaptation of The Little Mermaid, the Spanish Javier Bardem is Triton, the king of the seas, and Puerto Rican-descent Lin-Manuel Miranda will be in charge of adding new songs to the music.

In the new version of Snow White that Disney is preparing, Golden Globe winner Rachel Zegler will be the most beautiful in the story. Zegler’s West Side Story co-star and also Golden Globe winner Ariana DeBose will star in Wish, the upcoming animated film from the creators of Frozen.

And how about the Hispanic hero in Indiana Jones on this list? No, Harrison Ford hasn’t discovered his Latin roots but there is Antonio Banderas next to him. The man from Málaga acknowledged on his social platforms that he felt a knot of emotion when he saw his co-star in this fifth installment of the best-known archaeologist in cinema crying on the D23 stage.

There are many more. There is Puerto Rican Ismael Cruz Córdova, the first Latino to play the role of an elf in the series The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.

In the real world, or at least within fiction, there is the character of Jess Valenzuela, part of the so-called American “dreamer” generation, who will be played by actress and dancer Lisette Alexis, whose parents are Mexican, in the new version of National Treasure.

The list goes on because there are many more heroes, or mortals, that Latinos hope to show on the screens. “There are many different faces, different worlds. What is happening is very big. It’s very important for everyone,” Mabel Cadena summed up at Comic-Con about the inclusion process that is finally underway in Hollywood.


Translated by Mario Amaya