The comic series America features Marvel's first-ever queer Latina superhero, America Chavez, who can travel between time periods and dimensions. But to its writer Gabby Rivera, America Chavez is much more than a fictional character. She's a symbol of freedom from cultural norms — and hopefully, a means to break them.
"A Latina that can just go where she chooses is pretty revolutionary, I think," Rivera said on PBS NewsHour. "Because she has ownership of her own body and her destination, and that's a gift that not many of us are afforded."
Since the superhero is such a universal trope that so many people connect to, Rivera hopes that representing marginalized groups can expand who we as a society empathize with. "Who doesn't connect to the principles of Superman or the loyalty of a group like the X Men?" she asked. "I think now is a time when people are even more vocally saying 'hey, but it can go a step further.' There's room for more stories and there's room for more identities. If you can have... giant blue beasts and mutants, then there's room for a story about a little Latina lesbian punching through other dimensions."
Rivera hinted in an interview with Refinery29 that Donald Trump and the racism that's risen since his election have also found their way into the story. "I am still learning how to navigate this world, but to not include elements and emotions of what is going on would be a huge missed opportunity on my part — on our part," she said.
Another mission of America, she added, is portraying women in a different way from the typical comic book convention. "People assume I’m a masculine kind of person because I wear hats or boots," she explained. "And to me, womanhood is so flexible and so ever-expanding, and how beautiful is it to show all the ways that it manifests?"