Affirming Cultural Resilience with Contemporary Latinx Superheroes

Curator's Note

Given the tumultuous history of Latinos in the U.S, including the struggle for identity, belonging, and representation, one can understand why superheroes would be especially valued in this community. It is not just mainstream superheroes who fight for "truth, justice, and the American Way," but a new generation of superheroes such as La Borinqueña, PhenomX, and Miles Morales who reaffirm the resiliency of Latinx identity and culture in the U.S.

One contemporary superhero is La Borinqueña, an Afro-Latina endowed with superpowers to control the elements by deities from Taino mythology and who fights for justice for Puerto Rico, especially environmental issues. Created by Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez and unveiled at the 2016 NYC Puerto Rican Day Parade, La Borinqueña is named after the island's national anthem, and her graphic novels tell the story of Puerto Rico's indigenous and colonial past while also shedding light on the current struggles the island faces.

The newest Latinx superhero in the Barrio is PhenomenX. Created by the Colombian-American actor and comedian John Leguizamo with illustrations by Todd McFarland and Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez, among others, PhenomenX is about the wrongly imprisoned Max Gomez, whose participation in secret experiments gives him the ability to shape-shift. Leguizamo hopes that his comic becomes an ongoing series, especially since it profiles individuals that are often stereotyped or ignored in society.

Perhaps the most recognizable superhero is Miles Morales, the black Nuyorican Spider-Man. Miles is the product of Spanish and black Harlem, and his pride in being a mixed superhero is very apparent. He embodies an Afro-Latino narrative, showing us how being ethnically mixed in a multicultural society while also being a hero has its perks. The video game Spider-Man: Miles Morales demonstrates Spider-Man’s cultural diversity and his surroundings in Harlem. Miles code-switches between English and Spanish, and the apartment that he shares with his activist mother, Rio, is filled with Puerto Rican motifs. Being the "friendly-neighborhood Spider-Man" is quite natural since he is from a community rich in language, culture, and unity. He represents the positive aspects of multiculturalism in New York and in all of America.

Add new comment

Log in or register to add a comment.