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Contrasting Latina Protagonists in "Atlas" vs. "Hit Man" (AWFJ)

Two new, high-profile streaming releases are offering up very different representations of Latinas in starring roles played by Jennifer Lopez and Adria Arjona.



In the new sci-fi action film, Atlas, Jennifer Lopez saves the world. As the titular character, she fights off robots intent on destroying humanity, battling them from inside an AI mech suit and outwitting both them and her male colleagues. She’s buff and smart but also vulnerable, grappling with trust issues leftover from childhood trauma.


Compare this portrayal to the role scripted for Adria Arjona in the new Richard Linklater-Glen Powell comedy Hit Man. As Madison, Arjona plays a woman who considers hiring a hit man to kill off her abusive husband, but the man, “Ron” – actually Gary, an undercover police contractor played by Powell – convinces her not to. Instead, Madison leaves her husband and embarks on a steamy affair with Ron. 


Most of what we learn about Madison’s past, her personality, jobs and interests is briefly summarized in a scene before we meet her where Gary scrolls through her Instagram. For the rest of the film, her character’s actions and reactions revolve entirely around the men in her life – the abusive ex and the hot, mysterious new beau. 

She is purposefully fulfilling a fantasy for Gary, not unlike his own fantasy creation of the slick Ron (male and female colleagues alike fantasize about “Ron”). The problem is that the fantasy Arjona is asked to fulfil as Madison fits squarely into a traditional and long-disputed stereotype of Latinas on screen.

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Images courtesy of Netflix


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