Who Is Roberto Da Costa On X-Men ’97?

Roberto Da Costa Sunspot X-Men 97

The premiere of X-Men ’97 on Disney+, “To Me, My X-Men,” is a nostalgic hit that reunites a good chunk of the cast from the original X-Men: The Animated Series. But it also introduces a new mutant named Roberto Da Costa, who only begins to show off his powers in the premiere. So who is Roberto Da Costa? And what are Sunspot’s powers from the Marvel Comics?

In fact, this isn’t the first time Da Costa has appeared on screen… He’s been portrayed multiple times before in both live-action and animation. And his portrayal hasn’t been without controversy, given the Brazilian mutant has been mired in accusations of whitewashing, multiple times.

So, lot’s to dig into here. Let’s break down who Roberto Da Costa is on X-Men ’97, what Sunspot’s powers are, and why those whitewashing accusations may not stop with the animated series.

Who Is Roberto Da Costa On X-Men ’97?

Roberto Da Costa Sunspot partying X-Men 97

Roberto Da Costa is a new mutant who has, when we first see him, been captured by the Friends of Humanity on the series premiere. Cyclops and the X-Men rescue him, but he has little to no interest in hanging out at Xavier’s School For Gifted Youngsters. And he definitely doesn’t want to train with the X-Men.

Voiced by Gui Agustini in the series, eventually, Roberto does come around thanks to Jubilee (Holly Chou). He shows off a little bit of his mutant ability, which is powered by the sun to make his arm go all black, and Kirby Krackle-y. There’s more to it, which we’ll get into in a second. But that’s the gist! He’s rich, he’s got powers, and as we leave him off in Episode 1 he’s tangentially interested in joining the X-Men.

Who Is Roberto Da Costa In Marvel Comics? And What Are Sunspot’s Powers?

Roberto Da Costa Sunspot powers X-Men 97

As you might be able to gather, in Marvel Comics, Roberto Da Costa goes by the superhero name Sunspot. His nickname is Bobby, and he was first introduced in 1982’s Marvel Graphic Novel #4, written by Chris Claremont with art by Bob McLeod.

The son of a Brazillian millionaire and an American woman, Roberto’s powers manifested themselves during a soccer match, where he discovered he could absorb the power of the sun to cover his body in a black energy that allows him to fly, shoot out energy blasts, and makes him super-strong as well.

As with anything X-Men, his history is extremely complicated. But after initially getting recruited by the villainous Hellfire Club, he signed up with Professor X and was a founding member of the New Mutants. Over the decades, his status quo has changed tremendously, but his powers and money have remained. In the modern era, he’s often X-Men tangential, usually popping in to help out with the money stuff while he manages his financial empire, more than fighting bad guys.

Roberto Da Costa’s Screen History, And The Accusations Of Whitewashing

Roberto Da Costa Sunspot Jubilee X-Men 97

As mentioned, Roberto Da Costa has been portrayed several times on screen. In animation, he was previously voiced by Michael Coleman on X-Men: Evolution. In live-action, he was portrayed by Adan Canto in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and in The New Mutants by Henry Zaga.

As also mentioned, Sunspot is Brazilian. He’s also portrayed as dark-skinned, Afro-Brazilian in the comics, and so far the animated shows and movies haven’t gotten that right.

To be clear, nothing against these actors, who are just doing their jobs. But Michael Coleman is white, and from Vancouver. Adan Canto is Mexican-American and white presenting. And while Henry Zaga is Brazilian, he is, again, white presenting. None of these actors are Afro-Brazilian… And neither does Gui Agustini, who is also Brazilian, but not of African descent — despite Brazil having reportedly the largest population of those of African descent outside of America.

As The Mary Sue points out, being dark-skinned and of Afro-Brazilian descent is an important part of Sunspot’s origin… The X-Men are a not-so-veiled metaphor for prejudice, and many of their powers in the comics are activated by moments of extreme stress. In Sunspot’s case, that’s the opposing soccer team bullying him for his dark skin, which makes him go ham and activates his Sunspot powers.

In fact, after the news about Agustini’s casting leaked, EP Beau DeMayo left social media so as not to engage in the backlash (though he was also later fired by Marvel, so who knows what’s going on there).

So there you go. Sunspot: very cool character, means we may see more New Mutants in X-Men ’97. Whitewashing? Much less cool. In fact, severely uncool. Ah well.

X-Men ’97 Season 1 Premiere Dates And Episode Guide:

X-Men ’97 doesn’t have a one-a-day schedule like What If…? Season 2, or all-at-once like Echo. Instead, the series is getting a more traditional release schedule of two on premiere day, then one a week thereafter.

The release time is also typical. Versus what has now become a run-of-the-mill primetime “early” release for big movies and TV shows, all episodes of X-Men ’97 will be released on Wednesdays at 3 am ET / Midnight PT.

Here’s the full list of episodes in Marvel’s X-Men ’97 Season 1, and when they premiere:

  • Wednesday, March 20, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 1 – “To Me, My X-Men”
  • Wednesday, March 20, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 2 – “Mutant Liberation Begins”
  • Wednesday, March 27, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 3 – “Fire Made Flesh”
  • Wednesday, April 3, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 4 – “Motendo / Lifedeath – Part 1”
  • Wednesday, April 10, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 5 – “Remember It”
  • Wednesday, April 17, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 6 – “Lifedeath – Part 2″
  • Wednesday, April 24, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 7 – “Bright Eyes”
  • Wednesday, May 1, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 8 – “Tolerance Is Extinction, Part 1”
  • Wednesday, May 8, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 9 – “Tolerance Is Extinction, Part 2”
  • Wednesday, May 15, 2024: X-Men ’97 Season 1, Episode 10 – “Tolerance Is Extinction, Part 3” *Season Finale*

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