Last season, Marvel's Agents of SHIELD (AoS) on ABC introduced the Secret Warriors story arc, which gave the show an excuse to add several new secondary characters. Among these new Inhumans were several Spanish-speaking characters, including Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez (Natalia Cordova-Buckley), Lucio (Gabriel Salvador), and Joey Gutierrez (Juan Pablo Raba).
Then, season 4 premiered on September 20 with its new Ghost Rider storyline, which features the 2014 comic variant of the fiery anti-hero, Mexican-American Robbie Reyes (Gabriel Luna).
Although AoS season 4 is only a couple of episodes old, the new season has put the pedal to the metal with its new storylines. Where is the small screen outlet of the Marvel Cinematic Universe in terms of both Latinx and LGBT representation?
Elena “Yo-Yo” Rodriguez
With the Inhuman power of short-range superhuman speed, Elena was a Latina featured character in season 3. After SHIELD recruited her from her home in Colombia, Elena showed up in five season 3 episodes, including the season 3 finale. Initially, her character was not able to speak English, and the writers did a great job writing some terrific Spanish-language subtitled sequences for her.
At the very end of season 3, Elena took a bullet for Alphonso "Mack" MacKenzie (Henry Simmons). Although she survived this climactic moment in her and Mack’s simmering flirtation, Elena was down for the count for the remainder of the finale.
But Elena was right back in the action in this fall's season 4 premiere, coming on to Mack with all the subtlety of a SHIELD helicarrier (and who can blame her?). Elena is still a Secret Warrior, aka: a “field asset." But she’s a Secret Warrior with a secret — she's been stealing and smuggling SHIELD-grade medications to alleviate Daisy/Quake’s (Chloe Bennet) Inhuman side-effects now that Daisy has gone rogue.
Will Elena's double-agenting sabotage her burgeoning relationship with Mack? It’s great to see that this character is still very much in play in the new season.
Lucio was a corrupt Colombian police officer who used his Inhuman stasis power for very bad things, including the murder of Elena's cousin. Abducted by HYDRA and manipulated by Hive’s power over Inhumans, Lucio served Hive in a few episodes before he was fatally shanked by Joey.
Lucio, we hardly knew ye.
Robbie Reyes / Ghost Rider
The AoS season 4 plot so far orbits around the appearance of Ghost Rider, who is at the center of a web of conspiracies and mysterious murders.
Robbie Reyes is the modern version of Ghost Rider in the comics: a young Mexican-American auto mechanic living in a Southern California low-income community. Instead of a motorcycle, this Ghost Rider variant drives a sweet muscle car. And while Johnny Blaze, the white bread Nicolas Cage version of Ghost Rider, is possessed by the Spirit of Vengeance, Robbie Reyes is possessed by the spirit of a Satanic serial killer.
In AoS, Robbie and Daisy are drawn together by a gang-related incident in the season 4 premiere, and the two are really dueling it out over who has the stronger sad-eyed loner game. While guilt-ridden Daisy has gone rogue to atone for her betrayal of her SHIELD family in season 3, Robbie is struggling with supporting a younger brother with a disability. The Robbie/Daisy chemistry is solid so far, but it remains to be seen if Ghost Rider's tendency to violently dismember, crush, and straight-up incinerate people is a non-starter for an ongoing alliance with Daisy.
With all this Latinx representation on AoS, it's unfortunate that the first LGBT superhero in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Joey Gutierrez, is nowhere to be seen in the new season. Joey was introduced in the season 3 premiere as one of the new Inhumans created by the dispersal of Terrigen mist into the world’s oceans at the end of season 2. The agents helped him come to grips with his new life, and the show nicely told that story as a positive and affirming allegory of coming out and queer acceptance.
Joey made a few appearances throughout season 3 but was not a series regular. He was always portrayed as a reluctant and incredulous Secret Warrior, compassionate and loyal while never fully committing to the life of a superhero, and he seemed visibly shaken after he killed Lucio in a late-season episode.
Joey was further alienated by SHIELD's quarantine of the Secret Warriors when the team learned that Hive had compromised one of their Inhuman allies. Joey stalked off at the end of the episode, disillusioned by SHIELD's mistrust and duplicity.
But while Elena overcame her misgivings (because Mack) and showed up for the season finale, Joey simply fell off the face of the multiverse. We know from interviews with showrunners Maurissa Tancharoen and Jed Whedon that Juan Pablo Raba, the muy caliente actor who plays Joey, sadly was not available to shoot the end of the season. Indeed, between Six on History Channel and Narcos on Netflix, 2016 has been a busy year for Mr. Raba. Nevertheless, here's to hoping that AoS finds a way to bring him back — for the sake of Latinx and LGBT representation in genre television.
...and also a little for my sake. [swoons]