In terms of the larger Marvel Universe, America Chavez is a relatively recent creation. She first appeared in 2011, in the pages of a comic called Vengeance. Technically, she first used the legacy title of “Miss America,” the same name as a heroine who fought alongside Captain America during World War II. But eventually, the “Miss” part went away, and she became primarily known by her full birth name, America Chavez, in Marvel’s world. Created by writer Joe Casey and artist Nick Dragotta, she’s since become a Marvel Universe mainstay. And now, America Chavez has made her first appearance in the MCU; she has joined the cast of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness as a major player. Xochitl Gomez portrays the MCU’s America Chavez.
But like many of her fellow Marvel heroes, America Chavez’s backstory is a tad complicated. And it hasn’t always been consistent. Here, we will break down the decade-long history of one of Marvel’s most prominent young heroes.
America Chavez’s Powers: The Whole Multiverse at Her Fingertips
America is one of the most powerful young heroes in the Marvel Universe. Her primary power is that of opening so-called “star portals” that allow her to travel across Marvel’s Multiverse. America Chavez can literally hop from one reality to the next at will. She’s even been able to use this power to move through time, although that takes far more concentration on her part. Not only can she bring herself through these portals, but she can also take others as well. You can see why a character like this would feature prominently in a movie named Multiverse of Madness. It seems like America Chavez will fit right into the world of Doctor Strange 2.
And yes, America Chavez can fly. Besides her star portal ability, America Chavez has the standard-issue powers of super-strength, durability, flight, and superhuman speed. According to former Captain Marvel Monica Rambeau, America can almost exceed the speed of light. She can also release large energy blasts. In addition, America has a hyper-conscious cosmic awareness that allows her to perceive changes to reality that others can’t. She believed all her powers stemmed from being born outside of this reality, but recently, that has come into question.
America Chavez’s Original Origin Story
Despite only having been around a decade, America Chavez has somewhat confusing origins. Although she first appeared in the comic Vengeance, there weren’t any actual hints to her backstory at first. She was just a young inheritor of the Miss America legacy. It was in the second volume of Marvel’s Young Avengers that we learned that America was born outside the traditional multiverse, in a realm called the Utopian Parallel. This place was said to have been created by the Demiurge, the sentient life force of Earth’s biosphere, which created the Elder Gods eons ago.
America’s mothers were rulers of this Earth-like world in the Utopian Parallel. At some point, a series of black holes were threatening to pull the Utopian Parallel into the conventional multiverse, and America’s mothers died preventing that. At only six years old, America escaped to Earth-616, where the Santana family of Washington Heights, NY, adopted her. As she grew older, she became a neighborhood hero, but her foster family disapproved. She ditched their last name and took on her original, Chavez. Eventually, at age 16, she joined several super teams, most notably the Young Avengers.
America Chavez: Made in the USA
But all of that, it turned out, was not what we thought it was. Just last year, America Chavez’s original origin received a significant alteration. In her first headlining solo series, America Chavez: Made in the USA, they revealed that America’s mothers, Amalia and Elena, were actually Earth scientists working to cure a degenerative disease called Edge’s Syndrome.’ This rare condition, which affected only those with xx chromosomes, was afflicting their daughter America. She learned all this from her previously unknown sister, Catalina. The Utopian Parallel wasn’t what she believed it was but inside an island facility run by a billionaire named Mr. Gales.
On this island, Gales created a contained pocket dimension, this “Utopian parallel,” where time moved slower. There, he could study America and other young children afflicted with the illness in isolation. However, when America and Catalina’s mothers discovered that Mr. Gales was less than altruistic in his intentions for his research, they died helping their children escape. Initially, only America got away, with powers derived from the experiments conducted on her. Her sister believed that her memories of the almost fantasy-like otherworldly dimension were her six-year-old mind’s way of coping with what occurred.
America Chavez and Wanda Maximoff: Marvel’s Cosmic Powerhouses
Despite her likely interaction with Wanda Maximoff in Multiverse of Madness, America Chavez has little relation to her in the comics. But in the comics, she shares a special relationship with Billy Kaplan, Wanda’s son, also known as Wiccan. As the known future holder of the power of the Demiurge (or so she thought), she took it upon herself to protect him from the machinations of Kid Loki during the time she joined the Young Avengers.
Almost certainly, America Chavez is one of the few mortal beings in Marvel Comics who might go toe-to-toe with the Scarlet Witch and hold their own. Like the Scarlet Witch, some thought America to be a “Nexus Being.” This is a person who is singular and unique across the entire multiverse. But Marvel has since debunked this theory, as alternate versions of America have popped up. But Nexus Being or not, America is a uniquely powerful individual in the Marvel Universe.
A Team Player
Although first appearing as a member of the Teen Brigade, America Chavez has served with many Marvel teams. She’s been in the Ultimates, the West Coast Avengers, and more. Her arrival in the MCU is but the latest signal that some form of Young Avengers is coming. In WandaVision, they have introduced versions of Wiccan and Speed. Meanwhile, Eli Bradley, a.k.a. Patriot, has appeared in Falcon and the Winter Soldier, while Kate Bishop starred in Hawkeye. And the first Young Avenger to appear in the MCU was Stature/Cassie Lang, who was introduced in the Ant-Man movies. With America Chavez’s MCU arrival in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it seems only a matter of time before the MCU Young Avengers finally assemble.
Marvel’s First Latina LGBTQ+ Hero with Their Own Series
In the comics, America Chavez is the first Latina LGBTQ+ hero to receive her own title. Although adopted by a Puerto Rican family, her real ethnicity is unknown. Initially, she was an extra-dimensional being, but recent retcons have shown her mothers to be of Latin-American origin on Earth. Although she shared a kiss with the male teen superhero Ultimate Nullifier, she later chalked that up to teenage experimentation. She’s since confirmed to her teammates that she is indeed a lesbian. She dated an EMT named Lisa but still harbors a crush on Lady Katherine of Bishop, a multiversal variant of Hawkeye Kate Bishop.
America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Her MCU Future
Despite the recent retcons to America’s origin story, the MCU version we met in Multiverse of Madness stuck closely to her first backstory. The Utopian Parallel (although not name-dropped as such) looked like its original comics conception, and not an Earthbound experiment. And although America lost her mothers in this version, they aren’t necessarily dead. That storyline needs some resolution.
All of this is fodder for an eventual America Chavez spinoff of some sort. And of course, whatever Young Avengers project Marvel Studios has in the works will likely have her front and center as well. With her training at Kamar-Taj, she might be far more in control of her powers when we next meet her. In her own Disney+ series perhaps? Xochitl Gomez certainly has the acting chops to carry one.
With America Chavez proving she’s just as much of a self-sacrificing hero as any adult character in the MCU, we feel that equals out to one powerful new MCU hero. We expect a big future for America Chavez in the years ahead.
Originally published March 30, 2022.