Analyzes contemporary superhero-themed cinema, television, and web series in Latin America.
Capitán Latinoamérica is the first study to examine the unique contribution of Latin American cinema, television, and web series to the global superhero boom. Through an analysis of superhero-themed media from Mexico to Argentina, Vinodh Venkatesh argues that contemporary Latin American superheroes are a hybrid of regional tropes and figures such as the famed luchador, El Chapulín Colorado, and North American blockbuster characters from the DC and Marvel universes. These superheroes channel anxieties specific to their respective national contexts. In Chile, for example, Mirageman rehashes and works through the Pinochet dictatorship and its traumatic aftermath; in Honduras, Chinche Man confronts neoliberalism and gang violence. In Colombia's El Man, in turn, rapid urbanization and drug cartels are the central concerns, whereas corruption and the political machinations of the state feature most prominently in the television and web series Capitán Centroamérica. While the Latin American superhero genre may be superficially characterized by low budgets and kitsch aesthetics, it also poses profound challenges to the social, political, and economic status quo. Covering a wide variety of media bookended by wrestling films from the early 1960s and multimedia productions from the 2010s, Capitán Latinoamérica offers a comprehensive introduction to, and assessment of, the state of the superhero in Latin America.
Vinodh Venkatesh is Professor of Spanish at Virginia Tech and author of New Maricón Cinema: Outing Latin American Film and The Body as Capital: Masculinities in Contemporary Latin American Fiction.
"…Capitán Latinoamérica offers students and scholars of Latin American film and culture an excellent starting point for exploring Latin American superheroes. Furthermore, because the examples cited are mostly available on digital platforms, they are an excellent resource for Spanish instructors of all levels looking for authentic materials with which to engage twenty-first-century students." — Hispania
"…[a] thought-provoking volume…" — Latin American Research Review
"This is a great study that combines concise historical context, astute observations about media forms, and insightful theoretical engagements while, at the same time, exposing readers to a wide range of popular movies—some on the big screen and some on the small—that they might not otherwise know about. Venkatesh does a masterful job demonstrating how superhero films arise in response to specific social, cultural, political, and critical crises." — Brian L. Price, author of Cult of Defeat in Mexico's Historical Fiction: Failure, Trauma, and Loss