Ismael Cruz Córdova is no stranger to fighting for a role. "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power" star fought "ferociously" for his role in the Prime Video series, and was eventually cast as the Silvan Elf Arondir. Córdova saw a lot of himself in the character — he may have channeled Arondir's warrior spirit during his months-long audition process. "Characters like this, it's like they find you," Córdova told Esquire in September 2022. "I just always knew that this was mine."

Córdova seems to bring that same outlook to each audition: in the rare case he doesn't eventually win a role, it's probably because it wasn't meant for him. Recently, the actor was in the running to play a very different warrior, Adam Warlock, in "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3." Though he lost out to Will Poulter — and the rejection definitely stung — Córdova may yet find a place in Marvel's Cinematic Universe.

"I have [a] very good relationship with the Marvel casting directors," Córdova told Variety in May 2023. Marvel Studios have apparently reached out to the actor with a few different projects in mind — none have been the right fit yet, but that might be for the best. "I always think that I haven't gotten those roles because they're keeping me open for the one that I want to do," he added.

And what does he want? To be the Marvel Cinematic Universe's White Tiger.

Meet Hector Ayala, The White Tiger

"I think that's just another character that's just fantastic," Ismael Cruz Córdova told Variety. And he's not the only one that thinks so: in the comics, White Tiger / Hector Ayala is a pretty significant character. He was Marvel's first Hispanic superhero, and though multiple characters have taken on the mantle of the Tiger, Ayala was the original.

Much like his relationship with Arondir, Córdova feels a particular kinship to White Tiger. Not only do they both hail from Puerto Rico, but they too might share a superhuman resilience:

"I love characters that are improbable heroes, that are people that have got the worst deck dealt. That is my story. And I find that is many of our stories. Life is not just this little journey of redemption. How many of us were bullied? How many of us were poor? How many of us cast away? How many of our identities were something that you couldn't be?"

Even before becoming the White Tiger, Ayala had rough beginnings — and gaining superpowers certainly didn't make his life any easier. Similar to other street-level heroes like Spider-Man and Daredevil, the Tiger was often regarded more as a threat than a force for good. Ayala's tenure as the Tiger eventually ended in tragedy, at least in the comics, so if Córdova does end up dawning the white cowl in the MCU, hopefully, he can secure a happier ending for the character.

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