Actor John Leguizamo has written a think piece for NBC News discussing the representation (or lack thereof) of Latinos in the realm of comic books. The 53-year-old Columbian native is best known for his work in hits like Romeo + Juliet, the John Wick films, and the long-running Ice Age franchise. He’s dipped his toes into the superhero realm as well, playing the Violator in Spawn and popping up for a supporting role in Kick-Ass 2. The 30+ year veteran of the stage and screen recently called out the comic industry for being too far behind the times regarding superheroes of Latino origin, and he’s already getting support from his fellow actors for doing so.
As seems to be the case with many Hollywood stars these days, Leguizamo has become increasingly prominent on the political scene in recent years. His article certainly takes a few shots at the government (and more specifically, the current administration), though the actor’s wrath remains largely focused on the comic book industry and their various adaptations on screen. Suffice it to say, he’s less than impressed by the efforts made by major publishers to make their superhero rosters more diverse.
Here are a few choice quotes from his article, which you can read in its entirely over on NBC News:
Even though Latinx people have been fueling the comics industry since its inception, you wouldn’t be able to tell by browsing a comic book store or going to a blockbuster comic book movie … Comics culture is everywhere you look — 50 percent of the attendees at the recent New York ComicCon were people of color, for example — but Latinos aren’t anywhere to be found inside the covers … We are superheroes without capes or costumes, and there should be Marvel and D.C. heroes with names like Diaz, Vargas and Garcia. We deserve the same kind of visibility in the medium as anybody else. Kids, teenagers and even adults look to superheroes as role models; representation of someone ‘like me’ is a big part of connecting with any source of entertainment and feeling like you’re a part of the society in which you live. Because, if you don’t see yourself represented outside of yourself, you feel invisible.
Leguizamo isn’t alone in his concerns over Latino representation in the superhero, of course. Over on Twitter, Agents of SHIELD star Gabriel Luna — who plays Ghost Rider Robbie Reyes, one of the startlingly few Latino superheroes on the screen today — was quick to voice his support.
According to the United States Census Bureau, Latinos and Hispanics account for over 17 percent of the American population as of July 1st, 2015, making them the nation’s largest ethnic or racial minority by a sizable margin. On top of that, ICv2 recently released consumer demographics data in the aftermath of New York Comic Con, and the numbers revealed that Latinos accounted for 12% of the comic and graphic novel-buying public (again, the biggest minority group). Oh, and last year, the MPAA found that 23% of frequent moviegoers identified as Hispanic (again, the biggest minority group).
Look, diversity in the entertainment industry is always a hot button issue, but the numbers don’t lie. Even if you’re not particularly interested in comics and superhero media making any real attempt to represent the world we live in, it’s downright nonsensical that they so heavily underrepresent such a sizable portion of their fanbase. Just something to think about if your first reaction to a new Latino hero being introduced in the comics is to dismiss it as a thinly-veiled attempt at political correctness.
Read More: Justice League Cast Talks Film’s Diversity
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