As half the world watched the Superbowl, and the other half the commercials, Marvel released the full trailer for the second Doctor Strange movie, titled Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The movie promises to be a spectacle, one which might bring back the X-Men, does bring back Scarlet Witch, and might end up shaping the MCU going forward. But for our communities, the most important thing on screen was Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez.
Gomez, who plays Miss America, had already been announced, so her appearance wasn’t a surprise. But fans were still more than a little emotional at seeing someone who represented them be portrayed as the hero on screen. The one with the powers. The one that wins.
If it feels monumental, is because it is. Proper representation is an ongoing conversation, and though strides have certainly been made recently, there’s still a lot of ground to be covered. There are certainly more roles for our communities, but those roles are still mostly going to those of us who are white, and even those roles are, more often than not, stuck in the stereotypical.
We get to be heroes sometimes, but we don’t get to be superheroes. At least, not till now.
The MCU has had actors from our communities before – and Oscar Isaac is set to headline Moon Knight, coming next month. But for a particular generation of kids growing up with superheroes, looking up to them, imagining themselves in the lead role, Gomez’s America Chavez represents the hope that they could also be the heroes of their own story.
It feels a little idealistic, particularly when looking at it from a position of privilege. Why would kids need America Chavez to believe they can be superheroes? What difference does it truly make? We’ve all grown up idolizing different types of superheroes. And yet, the emotional response seen online made it very, very clear. Representation matters.
Because it’s one thing to be told you can, and another, quite different thing, to see it. It’s one thing to dream the kind of dreams that feel impossible and another to have someone to emulate. And though hope doesn’t, by itself, change anything, it’s very hard to change anything without it.
Today we exist in a world where our Latine communities are better represented, one where we can be the ones with the origin story, the ones with the amazing powers, and the ones saving the universe. And though that doesn’t mean there isn’t work to be done, or that we cannot have more – or better – representation, it’s still incredibly important.
It will be easier for parents to tell kids anything is possible thanks to Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez. And if that means more than we can put into words for us, imagine what it means for the kids that will have to step up and make the world better. Never underestimate the power of representation. It might just change someone’s life for the better.
Catch Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, releasing May 6th, 2022.