Marvel’s Studios First Minstrel Show: Michael Pena’s Luis In ‘Ant-Man’

This past Sunday, I finally got around to seeing Marvel’s Ant-Man which now has the unique distinction of being the first superhero movie I ever wanted to walk out of the theater on. My biggest problem with the movie is the portrayal of the Latino community and especially Michael Pena’s super annoying character Luis, the best friend of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd). Folks, if you put all of Pena’s scenes together you have yourselves a modern day minstrel show.

My friend forced me to stay to watch the rest of the movie and I would cringe every time Luis came on screen. I was already suspect when the movie opened with Spanish music. Luis wasn’t funny at all but apparently to non-Latinos he steals the movie. I was offended to my core. I came home and showered afterward to wash the stench off. Now for a second I thought I was being a tad oversenstive and let it go. But then the calls and text messages started pouring in this week as Latinos across the country reached out to me to air their displeasure with Luis.

Puerto Ricans, Cubans, Dominicans, Central/South Americans, and especially Mexicans were infuriated at Luis. So it wasn’t just me after all.

For the record, Marvel is one of the most progressive studios out there featuring Latino actors in prominent non-Latino roles. Benicio Del Toro (The Collector), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), and Maximiliano Hernandez (Jasper Sitwell) come to mind. The Luis character is a serious misfire for them and quite frankly, a disgrace. I’m dying to ask executive producer Victoria Alonso (who is Latina of Argentinian descent) just what the hell was she thinking when she put her name on the credits?

Luis, a cholo gangbanger ex-con, feels to me like a throwback to the cinema of the 1950s when Mexicans were stereotyped as criminals and bandidos. Every time Luis opens his mouth in the movie to talk, rapid fire jibberish comes out.  He didn’t speak coherently even once. Even in the beginning when Luis uttered that his father got deported, I asked myself, “Immigration issues in a Marvel movie?! Really?! Was that necessary?!”

Even worse than Luis was when the movie would flashback to his Latino relatives in the movie talking in the same stereotypical manner. Luis even had a Latino relative with a teardrop tattoo on his face. Ugh.

To borrow from Spike Lee, Luis in Ant-Man is the Latin version of “buffoonery and coonery.”

Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige in an interview with Collider this morning said the following:

Which lower-tier character that isn’t in the limelight would you like to see join the MCU, and there any plans for characters that maybe people haven’t really heard of being elevated or at least being an Easter egg?

FEIGE: At first I thought you were gonna ask sort of what lower-level character from another movie do I wanna see more, there answer to that is Luis, played by Michael Peña who is so awesome.

Mr. Feige, I respectfully disagree. The fastest growing movie audience in America DOES NOT want to be pandered to with the Mexican cholo/gangbanger/ex-con stereotype in your movies. Seriously sir, it’s now 2015, not the 1950s. Your company could do so much better.

In closing, as a Latino, I can’t recommend Marvel’s Ant-Man to another Latino. Avoid it like the plague because the Latino community comes off incredibly corny and stereotypical in the movie. Again, a disgrace and quite the misfire for the studio.

Chime in your thoughts below and keep it clean.

Umberto Gonzalez

Umberto Gonzalez

Umberto Gonzalez has been covering the fanboy beat & breaking scoops for 14 years with numerous Hollywood trade, newspaper, & magazine mentions to his credit.

  • James Durham

    THANK YOU! I’m not Latino but I HAD to search the web to see if ANYONE out there hated Pena’s character as much as me. Even before he started talking I cringed. The whole ‘we’re in the system?’ banter made me want to be sick and I seriously have not watched past the section where he suggests ‘whistling’ as part of his disguise during their planned heist.
    And not just him. The movie had the same old tired tropes that we’ve seen before.
    Such as the daughter’s character. She looked as though she had a steel rod all the way from her sacrum to her skull and I SO EASILY predicted how the conversation would go when Scott came back after his little tiff with Falcon:
    Ok so enter Scott who’s been on the mission and we haven’t actually seen if he’s been successful.
    Get Michael Douglas, the outwardly cranky patriarch who needs Scott but makes out he loathes him to start ranting and raving about Scott’s actions – without actually asking Scott first if he was successful.
    Have Scott magically produce the thing he stole.
    Have silence fill the room.
    Get the daughter to look at the ground and do the slow raise of her head with the wry smile and the ‘You got it’ (acknowledgement of Scott’s success)
    And now wait for it……
    The grumpy genius cracks a smile (and in spite of him smiling several times during the film its made out that doing so now is harder than getting a paraplegic to stand up) and says something un-cranky to which Scott now….
    ……makes out that the cranky patriarch just might have inadvertently accidentally said something ‘nice’ or a ‘compliment’ to which he asks the girl if that was in fact the case (with faux sincerity)
    … which the girl (still wryly smiling) agrees that he did ‘compliment’ Scott….
    …..and they all live happily ever f*cking after

  • hpcvideos1

    im not even hispanic and the whole performance was cringe worthy. that was disapointing especially after seeing him play civil rights activist