When Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness comes to theaters this spring, the eagerly awaited sequel will introduce America Chavez to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Played in the film by Xochitl Gomez, the character first appeared in Vengeance #1, and was created by writer Joe Casey and artist Nick Dragotta. The second character to use the name Miss America, that quickly faded as she developed a hardcore fandom of her own and her proper name overtook her superhero moniker so fast it would make Jessica Jones jealous. Raised in a pocket outside of time known as the Utopian Parallel, American Chavez began traveling Marvel's multiverse to prove herself as a hero after the death of her mothers.
Casey is no stranger to Hollywood, of course; in addition to working on Ben10 and other shows with Man of Action, his comic Officer Downe was adapted into a feature film of its own. But there's not much bigger in movies right now than having your creation appear in the Marvle Universe.
Casey joined ComicBook to talk about what makes the character special, and what he makes of her upcoming appearance in the MCU.
Corporate superhero comics are a never-ending tapestry and the next person and the next person are going to make changes. What do you think is at the core of America Chavez that makes her an interesting and enduring character?
Well, one reason -- and I think this speaks to her inclusion in the movie -- is that she just seems to fit into the Marvel Universe. She's unlike any other Marvel character but she shares a lot of the qualities that epitomize a traditional Marvel hero. One of the main reasons why I created her in the first place was to come up with a character who could stand proudly alongside the other classic Marvel icons like Iron Man and Spider-Man.
But let's face it, if we're all being honest here, she's had a rather bizarre journey in the comics. That's no secret. Luckily, her basic appeal has never wavered and her fans are incredibly loyal. And I'd like to think -- as with anything that's being adapted and adjusted for another medium -- her appearance in the MCU is a chance to distill the character back down to the best version of her, and strip away at least some of the creative detritus that might've accumulated in the comics over the last decade. For the movie, they can pick and choose the best bits.
One of the hardest things to do in Big Two comics these days is to create a character who sticks around and gets traction. Why do you think that is, and as somebody who has had some success in that area, is there a strategy behind it?
I don't think there's ever any real strategy involved, aside from trying to do your best work in any given circumstance. I guarantee you, it's not rocket science. Create a good character with a strong core concept and the rest will follow.
Relatively recent additions to the Marvel Universe like America Chavez, Kamala Khan and Miles Morales have become deeply important to a section of fandom that sees a lot of themselves in them. And, to me, the ways in which they identify with them really seems to transcend the comics they've appeared in. Because we're finally at a point -- long overdue, in my opinion -- where our fictions are reflecting our reality in a more accurate way. And unlike the Marvel Universe that was depicted in the comics of the early 1960's, our reality is obviously multi-cultural.
Again, no strategy... just honesty.
As more and more comics head to the screen, what are your thoughts on the popular strategy of creating comics basically as pitches for the next movie?
Hey, if anyone thinks that's the path to glory, then more power to 'em. It's one of the reasons why comics are so great, because there's room for everybody to take their shot.
In a strange kind of Darwinism, I find that the cream usually rises to the top. And I can tell you honestly, never in a million years would I have predicted that Officer Downe would become a feature film...! But that's the world we live in now.
How satisfying is it to see a character like this brought to life in the MCU?
It's very cool, but on the other hand, this is just the latest in a fairly long string of America Chavez appearances in other media -- everything from video games to action figures to animation to apparel to bed sheets and probably beyond, areas in which she's already made an impression outside of the comics.
As someone who does your fair share of film and TV work, is there ever a little pang of "Oh, man, it would have been cool to do this myself?"
Only when I consider how much cash this Doctor Strange sequel is going to rake in...!
In all seriousness, it was probably not the wisest move on my part to create any new characters for Marvel Publishing -- considering their spotty track record on dealing fairly with creators -- however, in the case of America Chavez, I did it, and regardless of where things are at on that front, I'm definitely psyched to see her in a movie that costs more than the GNP of certain developing nations.0comments