Having been so disappointed in DC movies and never actually having heard of Blue Beetle, I didn’t expect much…but was pleasantly surprised. Blue Beetle deserves better than its current box office take of $120 million, and here’s why.
A New Hero Rises
For those unfamiliar with the character, Blue Beetle introduces us to Jaime Reyes, a 22 year old from Palmera City (in the comics, El Paso, Texas), who stumbles upon the mysterious Blue Beetle scarab. This ancient, alien artifact grants him a suit of armor with incredible powers. But the transition to superhero isn’t a smooth one, and Jaime must navigate the challenges of family while also learning the intricacies of alien technology.
A Stellar Cast
The casting choices for Blue Beetle were spot on. Xolo Maridueña, known for his role in “Cobra Kai,” takes on the titular role of Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle. Maridueña delivers a performance that is both relatable and charismatic, capturing the essence of a young hero trying to find his place in the world. His portrayal of Jaime’s struggles, both as a son and as the new Blue Beetle, is heartfelt and genuine, reminding me of Tom Holland’s Peter Parker in the MCU.
Supporting Maridueña is a talented ensemble cast. Bruna Marquezine shines as the film’s leading lady, bringing depth and nuance to her character. George Lopez, as Jaime’s supportive yet concerned uncle, provides both comedic relief and some needed tech support. The chemistry between the cast members is palpable, making for a dynamic and engaging story of family relationships.
Angel Manuel Soto, the director, deserves immense credit for bringing this lesser-known DC character to life on the big screen. Soto’s vision for the film is clear from the outset. He masterfully blends elements of action, drama, and comedy to create a well-rounded cinematic experience. The film’s pacing is impeccable, ensuring that the audience is engaged from start to finish.
A Unique Place in the DCU
While Blue Beetle stands strong as a standalone film, it also finds its place within the larger DC Universe. The film subtly nods to other DC characters and events, hinting at a connected universe without overshadowing Jaime’s individual journey.
Blue Beetle was produced pre-James Gunn’s takeover of the DC Universe and while Gunn has stated the character will have a part in his rebooted film universe, it is not clear if this film will become cannon or if Mariduena will continue in the role. I certainly hope so.
Visuals and Soundtrack
The visual effects in Blue Beetle are well done. The transformation sequences, where Jaime dons the blue armor, is reminiscent of Venom, but with its own unique twists. The action sequences are well-choreographed, with the CGI seamlessly blending with the live-action elements.
Complementing the visuals is a stellar soundtrack. The film’s score, composed by Gustavo Santaolalla, perfectly captures the essence of Jaime’s journey. The blend of traditional and modern musical elements adds depth to the narrative with a touch of Mexican rhythm enhancing the overall viewing experience.
Themes and Messages
Blue Beetle delves deep into themes of identity, responsibility, and the challenges of growing up. Jaime’s journey from a regular young man trying to find his way to a superhero is symbolic of the broader challenges faced by today’s youth. The film touches upon the importance of family, friendship, and staying true to oneself.
One of the standout elements of Blue Beetle is its commitment to cultural representation. Set in the fictional Palmera City, the film doesn’t shy away from its Hispanic roots. This is evident not just in the dialogue, which occasionally and organically slips into Spanish, but also in the vibrant portrayal of the community, their traditions, and values. It’s a celebration of diversity, offering a perspective that has been long overdue in mainstream superhero cinema.
Character Depth and Development
Beyond the action-packed sequences and visual spectacles, what truly drives Blue Beetle is its characters. Each character, no matter how minor their role seems, has a purpose and a story. Adriana Barraza’s portrayal of Nana, Jaime’s grandmother, is particularly noteworthy. In her, we see the wisdom of age juxtaposed with the energy of youth, providing Jaime with guidance when he needs it the most…and the strength needed when it’s time to kick some ass!
Damián Alcázar, as Alberto Reyes, Jaime’s father, represents the quintessential parent torn between protecting his child and allowing him to embrace his destiny. His internal conflict adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, making the audience empathize with his predicament.
The script, penned by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, is tight and well-structured. It ensures that while the audience is treated to the grandeur expected of a superhero film, they are also drawn into the more intimate moments that define Jaime’s journey. The balance between action and emotion is maintained throughout, ensuring that the audience is invested in the story from beginning to end.
Box Office Struggles
Unfortunately, the film has failed to take off at the box office with many DC fans skipping it, at least in the theaters. With James Gunn planning his reboot of the DC Universe, some fans feel that, like the Flash and Aquaman 2 which were also made pre-Gunn’s reboot plans, it is a waste of time getting invested in characters that may never be seen again.
But Blue Beetle is worth watching. It’s a coming-of-age story, a celebration of culture, and a testament to the human spirit which is entertaining even for non-DC fans. It serves as a reminder that even in the vastness of the universe, with all its heroes and villains, there’s always room for a new story and a new perspective. And in Jaime Reyes, we find a hero for a new generation. It is deserving of a larger audience than it has so far attracted and hopefully will find it in streaming or DVD releases.