By now you should have blessed your life by watching the black joy that is Luke Cage. I mean Sweet Christmas, season 2 is coming out so don’t get left behind!
Through its focus on Harlem as not only a geographic location but a living and breathing cultural entity, director Cheo Hodari Coker was able to create something we had never seen before even though all POC know it to be true: Superheroes + POC culture/history = prime television. We ate that shit up. Then we saw it proven AGAIN on the big screen with Black Panther #WakandaForever
As usual, what hundreds of white executive producers and media moguls said wouldn’t work, worked. They said we wouldn’t watch and we watched, we lived and we were rewarded. Luke Cage is FULL of Black culture from literature to Hip-Hop to celebrity puns, it lives and breathes true. This is why I believe we can’t stop the train. This is why we need Angela Del Toro, aka White Tiger.
White Tiger was originally introduced in 1975 as Hector Ayala, the first Puerto Rican superhero in the history of comics. He was born and raised in the capital of Puerto Rico, San Juan and came to New York City for college. It was here that he came into contact with three mystical tiger amulets from K’un-L’un that granted him superhuman abilities (let’s leave the necessary discussion of cultural appropriation of Asian culture for another time *cough*Danny Rand*cough*). After protecting Nueva York for years, READ YEARS Y’ALL, Hector is shot and nearly killed. He recovers and ends up retiring, a word that ain’t even in the vocabulary for most superheroes and has a pretty good life until he is called back to the mantle.
He dons the amulets again only to get framed for murder, unmasked and put in prison. None other than Matt Murdock himself becomes his lawyer and by the time evidence is found to free Hector he is shot and killed trying to escape.
Yes, you read right. Marvel made the first Puerto Rican superhero in history and then killed him in a jail cell -_-. My son Hector got to RETIRE from the game, this man benched HIMSELF talkin’ bout I just wanna play my Héctor Lavoe records into the night, I just wanna collect this vigilante pension on the low. But no, because Puerto Ricans always be putting the world before themselves (ask my literal grandmother) he heads back to the fight, for the people y’all and what happens? ÉL MURIÓ! R.I.P. my childhood dreams of buying a White Tiger costume at the Halloween store.
Marvel then passed the mantle to his niece Angela Del Toro, an FBI agent assigned to investigate the secret identity of Daredevil. They work side by side for awhile until YOU GUESSED IT, she is killed and resurrected as a member of the Hand -_-. My dude what?!?! You killed me TWICE? And the second time made me a villain? You probably saying…..wellllllllllll at least there are other Puerto Rican supe-NAH, there was no one else!
Marvel owes me grievances for this one, I had to pay for two funerals and the last one got trashed cuz Titi Lola came through asking where the pernil at and my dad had to snatch her up. It wasn’t pretty. But I digress.
So let’s say it takes three tries to get it right as Marvel, then passed the mantle to Hector’s youngest sister, Ava Ayala, who had a pretty good run on Ultimate Spider-Man alongside the one and only Luke Cage.
Now, here’s 5 reasons why my girl Angela Del Toro needs to make her onscreen debut in the Netflix MCU.
1) Latinidad was introduced in both Daredevil and Luke Cage through Claire, her mother and Spanish Harlem and they did us dirty. Not only was Claire tossed aside for the ditzy white lawyer, but her mother, the OG Abuela, had a terribly small amount of screen time. This has been true across the four series: while Claire acts as the moral compass for many of our heroes, she is never given the depth she deserves. Finally and most disrespectful, who the hell is this guy?
I’m tired of the media thinking all Latinx people are interchangeable. This man is Mexican, you can tell by his accent, his features, and his horrible attempt at Puerto Rican slang. Why this man in El Barrio acting like he run shit?! Puerto Ricans been there literally since the early 20th century. We’ve had three waves of immigration and Taino Towers still standing loud and proud. Give us our due. It’s about damn time.
2) Angel Del Toro has the story chops. She is an FBI agent, is reeling from her uncle’s death, and was even A MEMBER OF THE DEFENDERS! Not to mention she was already name dropped in Jessica Jones! Jessica suggests her as an alternative private investigator but this doesn’t mean that’s all she has to be.
Imagine it, Angela can be introduced as an undercover detective investigating the vigilantism in Nueva York because her uncle was affected by their actions. Double points if we actually make her uncle one of Murdock’s failed cases coming back to haunt him.
She’s worked with Luke Cage and Daredevil in the comics before, and for better or for worse her powers and origin story align with Iron Fist. There could be a tie-in where Angela is brought into Danny and Colleen’s exploration of K’un-L’un. We can only hope Marvel does a better job of having her respect where her damn powers come from more than Danny does or we just walk away from this amulet shit and let her be a badass all on her own right.
3) Matt Murdock owes Hector big time. This white man didn’t do his damn job. And even more so, he failed to convince Hector he had a chance of getting out of prison. This dude rather die than trust that our legal system could do something for him (sound familiar POC fam?). Imma tell you what you not gunna do, you not gunna have my homies blood on your hands and also push Claire away. Nah bruh, do better.
4) The community needs Latinx heroes in our onscreen adaptations, specifically Latinx women. We been living in a world of sidekicks: first with Cisco Ramon (who FINALLY is reaching superhero status) on the Flash, then Zed wasn’t allowed to flourish (thanks for cancelling Constantine, NBC), and Claire, who be popping in for emotional support and then disappearing faster than Sammy Sosa’s melanin.
Thank god for Robbie Reyes and Yo-Yo on Agents of SHIELD but this man stay traveling between limbo and Yo-Yo only recently reached main character status.
Angela Del Toro been out here, she’s a street-level superhero from Nueva York with a rich backstory and dozens of tie-ins to the Defenders! Let’s do what we did for Luke Cage but for Puerto Ricans. I’m talking about a real focus, a deep dive into the character.
5) The people are banging at the gates for this. If you need proof that the people would love this look no further than La Borinqueña and America Chavez, two powerhouse Latina superheroes recently making waves. Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez and Gabby Rivera, the writers/creators of their heroes respectfully, got more interviews than they know what to do with! America Chavez already got Gina Rodriguez fiending for the after credits scene. Marvel, get your ish together and do right by the literal population that can sway your viewing percentages. Not to mention we could use a pick me up after the year we’ve been through.
Make my Boricua dreams come true. Don’t give me another funeral.
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