Representation within U.S American cinema has been a very long, and still present, continuous fight to see a diverse population of cultures and melanin on films and TV shows, where people like I, a brown Latina, could not only see myself, but feel seen and heard.
Growing up, I looked to the faces of Disney princesses trying to make myself believe I could be a princess just like them. I knew these beliefs were solely bittersweet, short-lived dreams because my five-year-old self was indoctrinated to believe that princesses just don’t look like me.
The harsh reality of what it means to be a person of color within America stopped me from a young age from envisioning myself in these films, characters or personas. If I couldn’t see myself as a princess, how would I even possibly envision myself as a superhero?
I thought seeing myself as a superhero would be one of the wildest things I could ever imagine as a child. Now, a decade later, not only do I see myself, but people from many different cultures and backgrounds can see there aren’t limitations to those dreams within Marvel’s recent film drop, “Eternals,” featuring one of the most diverse casts.
Eternals was released on Nov. 5 and brought to life heroes of many diverse backgrounds featuring one of the most diverse casts I have seen. Seeing this film impacted me and my ability to finally get to see someone who embodies me to play the hero instead of the villain.
When Cloe Zhao, one of Marvel’s filmmakers and a writer on “Eternals,” was asked by interviewer Ash Crossan about the size of the effect “Eternals” will have on the Marvel Cinematic Universe going forward, Zhao responded with, “Huge”.
I, for one, can attest to that great impact. The film has hugely and most genuinely impacted me, as it was the first time I have ever seen a superhero that was Latina with the same brown-melanin skin as mine on screen.
I am not the only one that resonates with this. Actress Salma Hayek who played Ajak in “Eternals” herself was moved to tears in an interview with Spanish talk show, Despierta America, about how her role has not only impacted others but herself.
“When I put on the suit for the first time I began to cry, the tears began to flow. Why? I saw my brown skin in the suit of a superhero and as I saw my face, I saw your face and I saw my face as a child who needed to have so much strength and drive to dream this big, and that’s when I realized a door had been opened where I didn’t enter alone” said Hayek, in Spanish.
The impact of “Eternals” wasn’t just limited to the audience and people like me but the actors and stars of the movie, such like Salma Hayek, who felt the grand impact Eternals made on the topic of representation by the film.
Films like “Eternals” should be representative of where American cinema should continue moving: towards the topic of inclusion and representation.