If someone called 2021 the year of Filipinos making it big in the international scene, I wouldn’t be surprised. Next to the 68th edition of Miss Universe hiring a Filipino shoe designer and Pixar featuring Filipino characters in a film for the first time, here comes Marvel Comics.
The American comic book giant is about to release a limited series that puts the spotlight on a new superhero. And as you might have guessed, she happens to be Filipina.
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Know more about the Filipina Marvel superhero
Arielle Agbayani takes inspiration from Captain America, one of Marvel’s first and arguably most iconic protagonists. This means you won’t only see her in Captain America’s same signature red, white, and blue colour motif. She also has a Captain America-style shield of her own.
According to Marvel Comics, the story of Arielle, or Ari for short, revolves around seeking justice in a small private university, where she goes as a scholar student. “When her school turns a blind eye to fellow students behaving badly, she springs into action — and she’s not afraid to fight dirty,” Marvel Comics describes.
“When she finds out her best friend is being victimised by a wealthy legacy student, Ari is determined to make things right. But what can she do when her college is only concerned with keeping its donors happy, and half the buildings on campus are named after her best friend’s abuser? In order to take him down, she’ll have to get creative,” the publisher adds.
Rather than Steve Rogers, the Filipina Marvel superhero takes inspiration from Bucket Barnes’ Captain America. Like Barnes, the female hero likes to use sneaky tactics to deal with bullies, who she dislikes the most.
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The making of Ari Agbayani and an early controversy
The new Filipina Marvel superhero was created by writer Alyssa Wong and designer Jodi Nishijima. Wong herself comes from the Filipino-American community. The creation of Ari was the result of her wanting to have more Filipinos represented in international animations and comics, as she thinks there are still not that many.
“When editor Alanna Smith approached me about creating a new, local Captain America for this series, I immediately knew I wanted to write a Filipino-American girl,” Wong said. “Every time I see a Filipino character, I get excited. And getting to create one — a Captain America, even! — feels incredibly special.”
As some Filipino Marvel Comics fans rejoice over the new superhero, there have been concerns about the choice of name. The reason being “Ari” in Tagalog translates to someone’s genitals, which indicates the lack of historical and cultural sensitivity on the part of its creators.
Nevertheless, Ari, the Filipina Marvel superhero, debuts on 22 Sep 2021 as part of The United States of Captain America. The series follows four Captain Americas from the past to present, including Barnes, who go on an American road trip to find Rogers’ stolen shield.
All images credited to Marvel | Official website