In 2011, America Chavez made her Marvel Comics debut. The character was a huge milestone in representation as she was one of Marvel’s first Latin-American LGBTQ+ superheroes to appear in an ongoing series. Now she’s ready to leap from the pages of a comic book to the big screen as Xochitl Gomez brings the America Chavez to life in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
ThatsItLA participated in the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” virtual press conference, where Gomez talked about her experience, what it meant to bring the character to life on the big screen, and the actors she looked to for advice when it came to some of the more significant scenes.
Gomez brings brightness and youth to a film filled with seasoned heroes who know their way around fighting bad guys and otherworldly monsters. Director Sam Raimi spoke highly of Gomez, calling her a breath of fresh air.
“Yeah, I mean, one thing that was so important to me was that this is a very adult movie. There are lots of adults in it. And so I wanted to make sure that America still had that youthfulness and still have that ‘fake it till make it’ resilience. But you know, when you’ve got some crazy stuff happening, it’s a little hard,” Gomez said. “I think one thing that really helps is that she is 14, which is younger than she was in any of the comics. So, I mean, that really helps. You know, in writing a new introduction, which Michael Waldron did beautifully.”
Though America may be one of the youngest heroes in the MCU, she had a lot of heroes she could look forward to for some advice. And the same could be said for Gomez, who had her choice of castmates to take cues from being able to perform alongside some major MCU vets. But there was one. “Well, I mean, all these people are great. But, in particular, I did look at Lizzie [Elizabeth Olsen], especially while she was acting and getting ready to kind of do the scene,” Gomez said. “I would just kind of watch her I swear it’s not stalker-like, it sounds stalker-like, but it’s not like that.”
“She’s just, you know, a powerful woman. I mean, especially me as a young girl, I would, you know, constantly look up to her,” Gomez said of Olsen’s work ethic. “And I realized how much like, you know, five minutes before a scene that’s kind of difficult, she would kind of get in that moment. And I realized that ‘oh, well, she’s doing it, I should probably do it too.’ And so I did do that. And it helped me. I just learned so much from her, and she doesn’t even know.”
Gomez’s portrayal of America Chavez is more than just a step forward in the right direction for representation. Her presence and the fact that she wears her pride on her sleeve allow those within the queer Latine community to feel seen and know that they can be heroes too. “It’s important, as we always say, that these films represent the world as it is and the world outside your window as they used to say in publishing,” Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige said. “That aspect of America’s character is from the comics, so we always want to adapt them and as truthfully as we can. And I think when people see the movie, much like in life, it is not anyone thing that defines any one character. As she [referring to Gomez] said, she’s a 14-year-old girl figuring out this very traumatic element of her life.
Feige noted that while identifying as LGBTQ+ is a crucial aspect of America Chavez’s character, it is not what the movie is about. But it is something in the film that needed to be included. “It is the fact that she keeps to being tossed around the multiverse multiple, multiple times, and being truthful to that and showcasing that,” he said. “And again, that is not what the movie is about, but it is an important part of the character she becomes in the comics. So we wanted to to touch upon that.”
It’s nice to see how something like “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” can include the everydayness of these stories without trying to make it sound like some sort of agenda.
See Xochitl Gomez in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” in theaters on May 6, 2022.