Doctor Strange 2 Star Xochitl Gomez Is Embracing Marvel's Madness
She's proud to play the MCU's first Latina, lesbian teen superhero.
It’s rare for an actor to find herself torn between a dream role as a beloved character in a world-famous franchise and, well, another dream role as a different beloved character in an even more world-famous franchise. But Xochitl Gomez, who left Netflix’s Baby-Sitters Club series in order to play America Chavez in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, is taking it all in stride. With Doctor Strange 2’s premiere just days away, Gomez is excited but chill, even as she faces the pressure of becoming Marvel’s next big superhero.
Gomez’s first big break came in Netflix’s 2020 reboot of The Baby-Sitter’s Club. She played Dawn, reimagined from a blond surfer girl in the original Ann M. Martin books into a Latina environmental activist, part of the adaptation’s more modern and diverse take on the classic novel series. But when she landed the role of America Chavez for Marvel, the projects’ filming schedules directly conflicted, and she had to choose between the two, ultimately leaving The Baby-Sitter’s Club after Season 1, with her role getting recast.
“It was really tough,” Gomez tells Elite Daily. “I grew up reading these books; I was a huge fan. I wanted to continue to play Dawn. But scheduling-wise ... I just couldn't do it. I really tried to make it work.” Adding to the heartbreak, Netflix canceled the series after Season 2. “I'm really upset the show got canceled,” Gomez says. “It was a great show for young teenage girls, and it was such a diverse cast.”
Diversity on the big and small screen is essential to Gomez. The 16-year-old, who is Mexican American, says she grew up “rarely having representation on screen except for Selena Gomez and Dora” (yes, the Explorer). But the tide is turning, and she’s glad to be part of it. “I'm proud of America Chavez, and I'm very excited to bring her to the MCU,” she says. “What I love is that she's a leader and a problem solver; she just happens to be a lesbian, but it doesn't have to be the focus.”
And yet, her character’s connection to the LGBTQ+ community is what’s dominated headlines leading up to her MCU debut. According to The Guardian, Saudi Arabia officials asked Disney to cut a brief scene in which America discusses having two moms before the film can be shown in the kingdom. The Guardian also reported that advance tickets had been removed from sale in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar. So far, Disney has reportedly refused to comply with the request to edit the scene.
Marvel fans angry about the film potentially being pulled from their countries have taken their anger out on Gomez, with relentless bullying on social media that resulted in her TikTok account briefly being suspended. Gomez — a teenage actor who has nothing to do with distribution nor has any control over Disney’s decision in the matter — is doing her best to ignore the harassment aimed at her. “I try to be careful about social media,” she says. “I'm only on TikTok and Instagram because that's where I feel like I can show people a sense of who I am. I'm about positivity and creativity and just moving forward.” But it hasn’t been easy for her. “Especially when my TikTok gets banned, that’s really hard to ignore,” she says. “But I try to stay honest about who I am, and I'm grateful to have very supportive fans that are much louder and more enthusiastic than a few haters.” (Oh, and don’t worry, she’s back on TikTok.)
Despite her mature AF outlook on the drama, Gomez is still grappling with her sudden shot to fame. Even though The Baby-Sitter’s Club was massive, it premiered right in the middle of lockdowns, which meant she didn’t encounter a lot of fans in the wild. “I didn't get noticed or recognized when I had my mask on,” she says. But Doctor Strange is a whole different level of huge, and she’s trying to prepare accordingly. “It’s just one day at a time,” she says. “I have no idea what it’s going to be like. I do the carpet today; tomorrow, I get noticed at Trader Joe's. Or it could be like, nothing. You know?”
The sheer physical demands of shooting a Marvel film were another adjustment Gomez had to make. “I actually have a fear of heights; that was something I had to get over,” she says. Her way of handling stunts was to focus on training. “People can get hurt; it’s one of those things that you can't play around with. [I] did lots of strengthening exercises and ran every day, because obviously, there's lots of running.”
One Marvel-esque talent that comes naturally to Gomez is keeping spoilers on lock. “Marvel's very secretive; they have secret websites and everything has your name on it,” she says. “Marvel security, they'll catch you slipping — not me slipping, but Benny Wong was slipping on some secrets. And I caught him! I'm very aware of that.”
But even the best secret-keepers don’t know about all of Marvel’s mysterious plans. For example, she has no idea what’s next for America Chavez. “I wish I knew what was going on,” she says. “They have said ‘We're thinking of something,’ and I'm like, ‘Great, what is that?’ Then they don't tell you anything.”
Still, Gomez welcomes whatever is to come with open arms. “I'm up for anything,” she says. “It would be amazing to grow with America. When I did the film, she was 14 and I was 14. It's kind of rare where you actually watch a character and an actress grow at the same time. I really would like to have that experience.”
She also hopes to follow the path set by some of her Doctor Strange co-stars regarding future projects. Benedict Cumberbatch has alternated between big-screen fame in the Marvel-verse with Oscar-winning films like The Power of the Dog, while Elizabeth Olsen starred in indie flicks like Ingrid Goes West and the criminally underrated series Sorry For Your Loss. “I want to do what some of the other Marvel actors have done, where they kind of balance it out; big movies with smaller indie projects,” she says. “It's like, what do you do after Marvel, you know?”
Audiences will meet Gomez as America Chavez when Doctor Strange in The Multiverse of Madness arrives in theaters on Friday, May 6.