We’ve known for a while that Marvel’s upcoming sequel to Doctor Strange, Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness, will probably introduce one of Marvel Comics’ most iconic and popular (and all too few) Latina superheroines, the world-hopping teenager America Chavez. Today, we learned that a teen Latina actress, Xochitl Gomez, has in fact been cast in a currently undisclosed role in Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness. Instantly, people started connecting dots, a lot of us jumped the gun, and now America Chavez is trending on Twitter – mostly because of a sprawling discussion about colorism. But is Gomez actually playing America?
Frankly, we don’t know. The initial Deadline report never even mentioned America Chavez – that conversation was entirely started by fans – and Xochitl Gomez could be playing another character. But considering how early this casting announcement has been made, it seems likely she’s playing a major supporting character in the film, and there’s been plenty of evidence to suggest that America Chavez will show up in the Doctor Strange sequel before going on to become a prominent member of the Young Avengers team, whether that’s in the form of multiple film appearances or a Disney+ streaming series. Xochitl Gomez is Latina like the comics character – but many have already expressed their disappointment with the casting.
America Chavez has dark skin, something that the comics have been mostly consistent in showing: however, there is a great deal of ambiguity as to whether she should be considered Afro-Latina or not. In the comics, after she leaves her homeworld of Utopia through a portal, she crashlands into the Bronx and quickly integrates into the Puerto Rican community there, before traveling all around Latin America and adapting to life on earth – so technically, she’s not even actually Latinx at all, and because of this many are hoping that her origin story will be updated: the easiest way to do this would be to have Utopia be an alternate version of Earth rather than an alien planet, making America Latinx by birth rather than by choice.
Xochitl Gomez is lighter skinned than most iterations of America Chavez that we’ve seen thus far in the comics, and she is Mexican-Canadian rather than Puerto Rican. This is a very sensitive issue because of how young Xochitl is – fourteen – and I would encourage people to aim any anger they may have at Marvel’s casting department rather than the actress herself, but it is a legitimate issue. Colorism is still a massive problem throughout Hollywood, and casting a dark, Puerto Rican Latina actress (Afro-Latina or not) would have been a great opportunity to challenge this problem head-on. There’s also the question of whether or not America Chavez will be a lesbian in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as she is in the comics, or whether this is a facet of her character that will be ignored. In short, I want to congratulate Xochitl on landing this role in such a high-profile Marvel film, but I also want to make sure that we all listen to voices from the Latinx community about this subject.
I want to reiterate again that we just don’t know who Xochitl is playing, and that there are other characters she might be playing. Personally, my number one choice for the role of America Chavez was Madison Reyes, star of Netflix’s Julie And The Phantoms, so there’s a little bit of me that’s still hoping for that. But hey, I’ve heard only good things about Xochitl’s acting (I’ve only watched a few minutes of Netflix’s The Baby-Sitter’s Club, so I can’t actually make a good judgement on that), and I love to see opportunities being offered to Latina talent, so I’m happy for her and excited to see who she’s playing. If she is America Chavez, that’s more proof (if you needed any) that the Young Avengers are coming to the MCU, and that Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness will deal with a whole bunch of otherworldly events, including a potential side-trip to Utopia. Hopefully Marvel understands that there’s room for improvement with America’s backstory and makes an effort to work on that.
But what do you think? Do you like this casting choice? Share your own thoughts, theories and opinions in the comments below!