El Chicano Is the First Latinx Superhero to Get His Own Film
Raul Castillo plays Det. Diego Hernandez, who moonlights as vigilante "El Chicano."
As superhero films slowly but surely become more diverse, we still have yet to see a Latinx superhero on the big screen. Out of the dozens of superhero films and characters, Latinx representation is shockingly dismal. The only representation we’ve seen are Jay Hernandez as Chato Santana/El Diablo in Suicide Squad and Luis (Michael Peña) as the non-powered comic relief in the Ant-Man films. The only Latinx actors in sizable live-action roles in the MCU films besides Peña are Zoe Saldana, who plays alien assassin Gamora, and Tessa Thompson aka Valkyrie. El Chicano is looking to change that, billing itself as the first Latinx superhero movie.
The film, directed Ben Hernandez Bray (Supergirl, Legends of Tomorrow) and produced by Joe Carnahan (The A-Team, The Grey) is a gritty revenge thriller anchored by an exclusively Latinx cast.
The synopsis reads, “When L.A.P.D. Detective Diego Hernandez (Atypical‘s Raul Castillo) is assigned a career-making case investigating a vicious cartel, he uncovers links to his brother’s supposed suicide and a turf battle that’s about to swallow his neighborhood. Torn between playing by the book and seeking justice, he resurrects the masked street legend El Chicano. Now, out to take down his childhood buddy turned gang boss, he sets off a bloody war to defend his city and avenge his brother’s murder.”
El Chicano, referred to as the “ghetto grim reaper,” looks to be a Latinx take on the Punisher: a masked vigilante, sans superpowers, who imposes brutal justice on the streets of his city. Hernandez Bray discussed his inspiration for the film, saying, “There was no one that I identified with, especially with a superhero theme. We don’t see enough Latinos on screen, whether it’s the small screen or big screen, let alone in a positive light. There’s Batman and Spider-Man, and now there’s Black Panther, but as a Latino, we didn’t have anybody that we could identify with, on the screen. It was time.”
Carnahan and Hernandez Bray, who wrote the script together, tried to sell it in Hollywood, but studios kept insisting on adding a white character. Carnahan has high hopes for the film to find an audience and inspire more Latinx-driven films, saying, “If El Chicano becomes a minor flash point, that allows these other movies with brown faces and Latino actors to move forward—and they don’t have to be superhero films—that would be fantastic. That would be really wonderful.”
And as studios inch towards inclusivity, Latinx audiences still haven’t seen themselves represented in a film like Black Panther or Crazy Rich Asians. It’s especially surprising considering that Latinx audiences make up a whopping 21% of moviegoers, yet Latinx actors get a paltry 3% of all speaking roles in films. For a community that makes up 18% of the U.S. population, it is wildly underserved.
Here’s hoping that El Chicano delivers successful Latinx representation and inspires studios to be more bold and inclusive.
El Chicano hits theaters May 3rd.
(via Collider, image: Briarcliff Entertainment)
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