When it comes to Marvel’s television outings, its deal with Netflix has proven to be a game changer. Where Marvel Studios had proved itself adept at churning out blockbusters like “Iron Man” and “The Avengers,” Marvel Television struggled to do the same with their spin-off shows “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” and “Agent Carter.” However, with the release of Netflix’s “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage,” Marvel Television found its niche. But while Marvel Studios became beloved for its high-flying action and larger-than-life fun, Marvel’s Netflix series have been hailed for their street-level heroes and complex, sometimes controversial, subject matter.
As the Netflix corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe continues to expand, Marvel Television will likely continue to recruit more and more street heroes. We’d like to modestly propose that White Tiger should be the next vigilante on the list.
But who, exactly, is White Tiger? The answer to that apparently simple question is surprisingly complicated. There have been five people who have taken up the White Tiger mantle over the years, but for the purpose of this article, we’ll focus on just three: Hector Ayala, Angela del Toro and Ava Ayala.
As their names suggest, each of these White Tigers are related to one another; Hector and Ava are siblings, while Angela is their niece. Of the three, Hector was the first to become White Tiger. Created by Bill Mantlo and George Pérez, Hector debuted in “Deadly Hands of Kung Fu” #19 back in 1975. While attending college at Empire State University, he discovered the tiger amulets, which had been discarded by the Sons of the Tiger. Once he donned the amulets, Hector found himself imbued with an ancient mystic energy that gave him enhanced strength, speed, agility and endurance. So powered, he took to the streets, fighting local gangs and super villains. After a long career as a vigilante, he hung up the amulets in order to save his relationship with his girlfriend.
Angela followed in Hector’s footsteps when Hector was assassinated following his murder trial. An ex-FBI agent, Angela had her existing training to fall back on when she inherited the amulets, though she was helped by Daredevil along the way. After dying at the hands of Lady Bullseye, she was resurrected by the Hand, who used their influence to turn her into a super villain. She recently clashed with Ava, the current White Tiger, who was able to free Angela from the Hand and restore her to her proper state.
Ava is Marvel’s latest White Tiger. Upon her death, the tiger amulets passed from Angela to Ava, who debuted in “Avengers Academy” #20 in 2011. After her family was murdered by Gideon Mace, she joined Avengers Academy, then Luke Cage’s Mighty Avengers and later Sunspot’s New Avengers. She clashed with Angela during her time as a New Avenger and managed to free her niece from the Hand’s influence, after which she decided to retire and convinced Angela to do the same. Additionally, Ava appeared in Disney XD’s animated series “Ultimate Spider-Man,” where she was voiced by Caitlyn Taylor Love.
While nothing about these short descriptions screams “Netflix series!” outright, the devil is in the details. In fact, the MCU has already begun to pave the way for White Tiger, beginning with a pretty major namedrop during “Jessica Jones”: Angela del Toro.
That’s right. Angela already exists in the MCU, though not as an FBI agent. When Luke Cage comes to Jessica for help finding information about his wife’s death, she refers him to Angela, a fellow private investigator. Of course, we never get to meet her on the screen, but a namedrop like that isn’t a coincidence; the MCU has been rather meticulous about its references, especially of late. In the simple act of naming Angela, Marvel Television has made her a concrete part of the MCU, a small part, to be sure, but that’s more than enough foundation to build off of.
The origin of the jade tiger amulets is of particular significance in that the Sons of the Tiger, who initially owned the amulets, are from K’un Lun. If that sounds familiar, that’s because it has a little something to do with Marvel Television’s next Netflix series: “Iron Fist,” which sees Danny Rand travel to the mystical land of K’un Lun, the place where he becomes the Iron Fist.
What’s more, there’s plenty of crossover between White Tiger and Marvel’s other Netflix heroes in the comics. As mentioned above, Jessica Jones has a connection to Angela on television, but there’s also the fact that Daredevil trains Angela in the comics. Ultimately, the Man Without Fear is the one that convinces her to pursue a vigilante career. Daredevil also plays a big part in Hector’s life; when Hector is accused of murder, he turns to Matt Murdock for help, and Matt defends him in court. He eventually gets Hector off, only for Hector to be murdered on the courthouse steps. While there are many more examples of White Tiger working with Netflix’s host of heroes, these two recent examples highlight just how interwoven they truly are.
While there’s plenty of material for Marvel Television to draw from, that doesn’t mean the studio needs to adapt White Tiger’s story word-for-word. After all, they’ve made major changes to the origins of “Daredevil,” “Jessica Jones” and “Luke Cage,” to no ill effect. As such, a White Tiger television series could easily divert away from the source material and explore it in a new — and perhaps more interesting — way.
For instance, a White Tiger series could touch on themes of family and legacy. While “Luke Cage” dabbled in this idea with Mariah Dillard and Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, “White Tiger” could go fully in depth on the topic. Instead of Angela or Ava inheriting the tiger amulets in the wake of Hector’s death, perhaps Hector is alive but retired and must mentor his sister or niece as she becomes a vigilante in her own right. Perhaps Hector and the new White Tiger clash over her use of the tiger amulets, or one of the women is jealous that the Tiger God chose one over the other. Perhaps the series takes place as Hector goes on trial and the new White Tiger must complete whatever he has started.
In exploring the boundaries of family relationships, White Tiger could take Marvel’s Netflix heroes somewhere they’ve never been before. That is to say, our heroes so far — Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the upcoming Iron Fist — have no real living family and make due on their own or with some help from their friends. However, a White Tiger series could tackle the subject head-on by exploiting the way Hector, Angela and Ava are connected, thereby bringing something new to Marvel Television.
Plus, Marvel Television could always use more diversity. To be fair, the studio has been pretty good about this; “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” features two Asian-American women and man of color in series regular roles, with two Latinx characters in recurring roles. “Luke Cage” brought more diversity to Marvel’s slate, including the fan-favorite character Misty Knight and the truly chilling villain Black Mariah. However, the MCU is still overwhelmingly white in the grand scheme of things, and it’s particularly lacking in women of color. A TV show based on White Tiger would certainly give the MCU a nice boost in this regard, as well as flesh out the world in a more dynamic, inclusive and realistic way.
If the studio wants a breath of fresh air, however, it would do well to bring White Tiger into the fold — whether that means Hector, Angela, Ava or all three of them together. With “Castle’s” Jon Huertas actively campaigning for the role, they even already have someone interested in bringing White Tiger to life.The current state of the MCU has certainly paved the way for White Tiger, and he or she would fit right in alongside the likes of Daredevil, Jessica Jones and Luke Cage. Hopefully, there’s room in the Defenders for another hero or two.