Join us in celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month by checking out our Entertainment Spotlight on Latinos/LatinX in Geek media!
As if the name doesn’t give it away, you should know by now that the Planet Nestor Entertainment website is owned and operated by a Latino American family! I have been a life long Geek and am always inspired when I see Latino characters in Comic Books or Science Fiction Media and I am also filled with pride whenever I see fellow Latinos behind scenes!
A few key Marvel Comics characters that are of Latino descent are The White Tiger (Hector Ayala-Angela del Toro-Ava Ayala), Roberto “Robbie” Reyes/Ghost Rider, Miss America/America Chavez and Nova/Sam Alexander.
The Spider-Man side of the Marvel Universe features Spider-Man 2099/Miguel O’Hara, Anya Sofia Corazon/Spider-Girl and Miles Morales/Spider-Man.
D.C. Comics Latino roster includes Bane, Blue Beetle/Jaime Reyes, El Diablo, Green Lantern/Jessica Cruz, and… Vibe. Also worth noting Selena Kyle/Catwoman was half Cuban for a period of time.
Comic Book Industry Behind the Scenes:
There’s no way I could possibly do a feature on Latinos in Comics without a mention of the great George Perez! George Perez has been working in the comic book industry for over 44 years!
Talented pencillers and inkers such as Humberto Ramos, Natacha Bustos and Gilbert Hernandez all create wonderful comic book art as well. Writer Gabby Rivera has been making her mark on the America Chavez book.
Marvel Comics Editor In Chief Axel Alonso is of Mexican descent and Marvel CCO Joe Quesada is of Cuban ancestry.
We’ve come a long way since I first saw El Dorado on The Super Friends cartoon! The animated feature The Book of Life boasts a cast of Mexican characters portrayed by some Latino and non-Latino voice actors.
Disney’s Elena of Avalor takes place in a Latin-Inspired fantasy world, but most of the cast is Latino. The upcoming Disney Pixar movie, Coco will feature an all Latino voice cast.
Latinos who have performed as Voice Actors in animation include: Cheech Marin, George Lopez, Benjamin Bratt, Jon Leguizamo, Demi Lovato, Michelle Rodriguez, Salma Hayek, Cameron Diaz, Rosie Perez, Wilmer Valderrama, Sofia Vergara, Danny Trejo, Gabriel ‘Fluffy’ Iglesias, Carlos Alazraqui and Freddie Prinze Jr. to name a few.
Animation Behind the Scenes
A great example of Latinos behind the scenes in animation is the extremely talented Jorge Gutierrez, who directed the wonderful animated feature The Book of Life.
Throughout the years many Geeky movies have featured Latino characters and Latino/LatinX actors portraying ambiguous or non-LatinX characters. Let’s see how many I can think of:
Ricardo Montalban played the titular villain in Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan. Despite the fact that Khan Noonien Singh was originally meant to be of Indian descent, Ricardo Montalban’s performance is considered a classic. Another geeky villain portrayed by a Latino actor is The Violator from Spawn, who was played by John Leguizamo, who also starred as Luigi in the Super Mario Bros. Movie.
One of my favorite movies from the 1990’s that doesn’t get a lot of love is Predator 2. It is a guilty pleasure of mine, but I also love it for featuring a very diverse cast. The film had an African-American lead, Mike R. Harrigan, played by Danny Glover and also two major supporting cast members played by Latinos: Detective Danny Archuleta played by Panamanian Singer turned Actor, Ruben Blades and Detective Leona Cantrell played by María Conchita Alonso, who is from Cuba.
Actress Rosario Dawson has made a name for herself in respectable films, but also has Geek cred to spare! She has starred as and also voiced several characters in comic book movies and animation. Her voice work includes Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in Lego Batman and also Artemis in the animated Wonder Woman movie. She went on to voice Wonder Woman in Justice League: Throne of Atlantis. She also lent her voice to Rob Zombie’s animated feature, The Haunted World of El Superbeasto.
Rosario’s Geeky live action roles include Valerie Brown in Josie and the Pussycats, Gail from Sin City, Laura Vasquez in Men in Black 2 and she portrays Claire Temple in The Marvel Netflix shows.
Zoe Saldaña who is of Dominican and Puerto Rican descent is well known for her Science Fiction movie performances where she has played Uhura in Star Trek, Neytiri in Avatar and of course, the deadliest woman in the universe, Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy!
The Star Wars Universe features Bail Organa played by Jimmy Smitts, Captain Cassian Andor, played by Diego Luna, Poe Dameron played by Oscar Isaac and DJ played by Benicio Del Toro. Benicio is also seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as The Collector, who is set to return in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.
The X-Men movie franchise has featured minimal Latinos, but Oscar Issac did portray the Jordanian Mutant Apocalypse (En Sabah Nur) and Dania Ramirez was Callisto in X-Men: The Last Stand. Days of Future Past featured Sunspot and X-Men First Class had Darwin, however he was not portrayed as Afro-Latino.
Movie Behind the Scenes
Latino creators behind the scenes include Mexican American Robert Rodriguez and Mexican visionary Filmmaker Guillermo Del Doro who each have directed major big budget Comic Book adaptations.
How could I forget that a major driving force behind the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Victoria Alonso, originally from Argentina, the Marvel Studios Producer who has overseen the special effects in the MCU movies!
Throughout the years there have been a few genre TV shows that featured Latino characters, here are a few examples:
A couple of characters on TV that weren’t necessarily Latino, but were played by Latinos are The Joker and Wonder Woman! The Joker in the 1960’s Batman series was portrayed by Cesar Romero, who was of Cuban descent and Wonder Woman in the 1970’s was portrayed by Lynda Carter (Linda Jean Córdova Carter) who is half Mexican.
Edward James Olmos portrayed Commander/Admiral Adama on Battlestar Galactica.
Marvel TV’s Agents of SHIELD has done a great job of showcasing several Latino characters including Agent Gonzalez portrayed by Battlestar’s Olmos, Yo Yo Rodriguez played by Natalia Cordova and of course Gabriel Luna’s excellent portrayal of the supernatural superhero, Ghost Rider!
Another more recent show to feature Latinos prominently is Fear The Walking Dead which stars Rueben Blades. Aubrey Plaza is a scene stealer as Lenny Busker in the amazingly trippy Legion on FX.
TV Behind the Scenes
Going all the way back to the early 1950’s Desi Arnaz, who was from Cuba, pioneered the production infrastructure of the modern-day sitcom, by developing the multiple camera set up and also allowing the show to be filmed in front of a live studio audience. You might be thinking “that’s cool and all but what does this have to do with geek culture?” Well, what if I told you Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball’s company DesiLu productions produced Star Trek?
El Rey network, home of the From Dusk Till Dawn TV series, Godzilla movie marathons, Kung Fu features and Lucha Underground wrestling is the brainchild of Mexican American producer director Robert Rodriguez. Mr. Rodriguez’s Latino Geek sensibilities make him the perfect curator for this genre network!
I’m sure I may have missed some examples, but my goal was to feature as many Latinos/LatinX who have contributed to what we call Geek or Nerd Culture. I can only hope to see many more as we move towards the future and pursue more representation!
Let us know on twitter what you think! Did we miss anything important? Didnwe overlook any Latino/LatinX talent in the Entertainment Geek world? How are you celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month?
Hispanic Heritage Month is September 15 through October 15!