Arts & Entertainment

Xochitl Gomez, 16-year-old Latina who’s conquering the Marvel Universe

By Javier Romualdo

Los Angeles, May 4 (EFE).- Xochitl Gomez is 16 and barely has any film credits to her name, but Marvel has put its confidence in her to portray comic book heroine America Chavez in the much-anticipated “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”

“I never thought I would ever be in a blockbuster, … but my mom (said) ‘You should take martial arts, there are roles out there. You can do it.’ … So I’ve done martial arts ever since I was 12, … and once I got this new movie (I said) ‘Well, at least I do know some martial arts. I can actually see myself being a superhero,'” the young actress of Mexican origin told EFE in an interview.

“Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” makes its debut in theaters this weekend as the next film in the Marvel Universe after the hit “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” one of the biggest box office successes in recent years, but Gomez says she doesn’t want to think about that.

She said that it’s a huge film, with very emotional elements, adding that she’s well aware that overnight she will go from being a virtual unknown to an actress with a huge number of fans and an icon of one of the biggest film franchises.

The film once again features well-known and popular stars like Benedict Cumberbatch in the role of Doctor Strange, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda and Benedict Wong playing Wong.

But the big novelty this time around is the inclusion of Gomez’s character – America Chavez – a Latina heroine who until now had appeared only in comic books and Marvel’s animated series but whom Gomez is putting in front of the cameras for the first time.

“It’s a lot of responsibility, originating a character from a comic … and she’s younger than any of the comic book versions. So I had to … look at the America in the comics and make her younger, less experienced,” the actress explained.

Although her story seems to confirm that her Hollywood dreams are becoming a reality, Gomez, who was born in Los Angeles in 2006, said that getting selected for the part was not easy.

She went to her first audition after starring in “The Baby-Sitters Club” and spent six months not hearing anything more until then she was asked to do a second screen test. She’d been practicing kickboxing and working out for half a year to “impress” the film powers that be to give her the role.

Then, one day she received a call from her agent with the message “Welcome to the Marvel Universe.”

“It took me a couple of weeks to … process the fact,” she said.

The character of America Chavez appeared for the first time in the comic “Vengeance,” published in 2011, in which her backstory is that she comes from a parallel universe where she was raised by two mothers, whom she accidentally abandoned when she discovered that she could travel to other universes.

In its attempt to take a leading role in championing diversity, Marvel is presenting this heroine with a nod to the LGTBIQ community – although her sexuality is never openly discussed in the film – something that has motivated certain countries like Saudi Arabia to cancel its screening.

In “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” America Chavez meets up on Earth with Doctor Strange and Wong, to whom she admits that she can travel through the many worlds of the multiverse but has no control over her powers, which only emerge when she’s afraid.

Marvel has not yet determined the future of the character, but Gomez made it clear that the pressure of dealing with work like this has not negated the “fun” she had doing the filming, which also sees the return of director Sam Raimi to the world of superheroes after the mixed reviews received by his “Spider-Man 3.”

This time around, Raimi has directed a film that gathers together the plotlines of the most recent Marvel productions – such as the latest “Spider-Man” release along with the “Loki” and “WandaVision” series – to create a film loaded with inside references and focused on the travels through the multiverse in which its characters live.

Wanda, the heroine played by Elizabeth Olsen, returns as an unexpected villainess who wants to acquire America Chavez’s powers, something that Doctor Strange and Wong will attempt to prevent.

EFE romu/pamp/jrh/bp

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