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Black Panther Will Bring a Much-Needed Step Forward in Latino Representation

Let's not give Marvel too much credit here, but it is something.

It’s not that Marvel is breaking barriers when it comes to representation, but at least we’re getting somewhere now?

Phase 4 has been groundbreaking for Marvel’s push for more diversity, with Iman Vellani’s Kamala Khan the MCU’s first Muslim superhero, and Xochitl Gomez’s America Chavez the first Latina superhero. Now, Marvel is giving us more Latino representation in the sequel to the movie that really opened up the world of Marvel in the first place, Black Panther.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will bring us back to Wakanda, as the nation mourns the loss of King T’Challa. But the movie is also set to feature the underwater nation of Atlantis for the first time, and that’s where the Latinos come in. Because not only is Mexican-Kenyan Lupita Nyong’o back as Nakia, Mexican Tenoch Huerta is playing Namor, the King of Atlantis. And he got quite a reception as he was introduced at San Diego Comic-Con during the Marvel panel.

He’s not alone, either. Guatemalan María Mercedes Coroy will play Namor’s mother, Mexican Mabel Cadena will play Namora, Namor’s cousin, with Mexican Josúe May Chi and Venezuelan Alex Livinalli also set to appear on the film. That’s more latinos than Marvel has ever had on screen together, and almost as many as it’s had in all its projects before combined. Not to mention, in this case, they all seem to be playing latino-coded characters, something we’ve rarely gotten to see form Marvel before.

Sure, it was fun to see Michael Peña play Luis, but it was also kind of sad that he was one of the few real latino characters in the MCU for so long. And funny storytelling aside, it’s not like he got to do that much in the first place. Sorry, Zoe Saldaña’s Gamora doesn’t count, despite the actress being latina because, well, she’s a green alien.

But considering it took till Phase 4 to get here, we also shuldn’t be too quick to pat Marvel on the back for something they should have done a long time ago. At most, they deserve tepid applause and for all of us to keep our eyes peeled to make sure the representation the MCU is now bringing in front of the cameras is backed up by some nuanced writing. The last thing we need is more stories about our communities being told from the perspective of white people.

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever will be in theaters November 11th.