It’s no secret that DC isn’t going through its prime. His most recent releases, ‘Shazam! The fury of the gods’ and ‘Flash’, have failed at the box office and there is a general feeling of lack of interest, accentuated by the fact that in 2025, the saga will press the restart button with ‘Superman: Legacy’, which will kick off exit to the new DC Universe, led by James Gunn and Peter Safran. It is logical that many fans have decided not to support his latest installments because “why, if all this is not going to continue?”, but It would be a shame to follow that logic and turn his back on his new bet in theaters, ‘Blue Beetle’, his greatest recent success.
Directed by Ángel Manuel Soto and starring Xolo Maridueña, ‘Blue Beetle’ strips itself almost completely of all dependence on the rest of the DC Universe to establish itself as an independent origin story that stands on its own and without the need to connect it to other installments through free cameos or crossovers that arrive before their time (there are mentions of Batman and Superman, but little else). For this reason, the film serves in its own way as a pre-reset, before the premiere of ‘Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom’, the last project of the previous regime, lowering the ambition to do things right: start from the foundations.
‘Blue Beetle’ welcomes us to Palmera City, a new corner of the DC Universe defined by its Latino population and identity. This place replaces El Paso as the city of origin of Jamie Reyes, thus giving his own city to the first leading Latino superhero of the DCU, in the same way that Batman is linked to Gotham or Supeman to Metropolis. Jaime (Mariedueña) is a young man who has just graduated from university, who returns home to find out what to do with his life, but discovers that finding his place in the world is not as easy as he thought. Everything changes when, one day, fate decides that it falls into his hands. an ancient biotech alien relic known as the Beetle, which chooses it as its host, turning it into the superhero Blue Beetle.
As an origin story, ‘Blue Beetle’ doesn’t make anything up. The film is constantly reminiscent of other superhero storiesmixing elements and ideas from ‘Venom’ (the Beetle is basically an alien symbiote that acts in a similar way and is coveted by an evil organization), ‘Iron Man’ (the armor and technological orientation of the superhero) and, above all, ‘ Spider-Man’, with which he has often been compared, reminiscent of the tone of the films starring Tom Holland.
That is to say, ‘Blue Beetle’ is not exactly the height of originality if we stick solely to its narrative contribution to superhero movies, but fortunately, it knows how to compensate with large doses of freshness, personality and a very clear perspective. Soto knows how to handle material that could have remained a simple déjà vu to elevate it with its own voice, and he does it mainly emphasizing two things: Latino culture and family. ‘Blue Beetle’ is a sincere and heartfelt celebration of both, a proudly Latino product that vindicates its popular culture (homage to ‘El Chapulín Colorado’ included) and extols the family as a central pillar, taking that idea to the construction of the superhero and its mythology.
That is the most noteworthy novelty of ‘Blue Beetle’, what sets it apart from other superhero movies and series, the importance that Jaime Reyes’ family takes on in history. While in other films and series of the genre, the family is important, but it remains in a secondary plane, ‘Blue Beetle’ introduces her directly and literally into the action. When Jaime acquires his powers and resists his new responsibility, it is his relatives who become his main support. For them there are no secrets, from the beginning they are in on it because they all witness their first transformation into Blue Beetle. Getting rid of that commonplace so quickly makes ‘Blue Beetle’ able to build something different from what we usually see in this type of story very soon.
Although humor doesn’t work at all times, the family dynamic does, and wonderfully, thanks to a cast that gives their all and blends in as if they were in real life too. The film stars Damián Alcázar and Elpidia Carrillo as Jaime’s parents, Belissa Escobedo as his sister, Milagro, and two hilarious and unpredictable aces: George Lopez as Uncle Rudy and Adriana Barraza as Nana, Jaime’s grandmother. There is not a single weak link and all together they create a type of group practically unprecedented in this type of film., starring in truly funny and endearing moments. In addition, Soto imprints on this family dynamic a certain component of magical realism associated with the family and the Latin tradition that can also be reminiscent of ‘Encanto’ and that makes ‘Blue Beetle’ something really special and differentiated within the genre.
But of course, without a good leading hero serving as a connecting thread, the film would not work as well and Xolo Maridueña plays that role perfectly. The ‘Cobra Kai’ actor embraces the opportunity and becomes Jaime Reyes in body and soul, giving life to a charismatic but relatable character, and endowing the hero with a lot of humanity. Jaime (and Xolo) like him because he is a humble boy who loves his family and still doesn’t really know who he is; he is not an unattainable ideal, but It’s his quality of being a normal guy who doesn’t want his powers that makes him extraordinary in this universe.. Maridueña shines as brightly as her costume and her connection to the rest of the cast is undeniable, including Bruna Marquezine as Jenny Kord, her love interest, and another of the film’s revelations.
As for the villains, ‘Blue Beetle’ resorts, as is almost tradition, to a consecrated star to give life to the main antagonist of the superhero, Susan Sarandon. The actress puts herself in the shoes of Victoria Kord, a megalomaniac businesswoman who seeks to exploit the powers of the Beetle for her own benefit. Although the character is a compendium of clichés, Sarandon’s good work elevates her, but the most interesting thing about the villain is her henchman, a mercenary turned cyborg a la Robocop (another movie from which ‘Blue Beetle’ drinks a lot), whose story brings a surprising ideological and vindictive weight to the film, crowning a third act that is quite intense and above average.
Visually and emotionally electric
Visually, ‘Blue Beetle’ is also a considerable improvement on what we have seen recently in DC. Nothing to do with the questionable digital effects of ‘Flash’, which shows that sometimes you don’t need more budget, but rather a clearer vision. And it’s obvious that in ‘Blue Beetle’ there is.
Soto handles himself very well in directing, with remarkable action scenes that put the emphasis on the characters and don’t get lost in the digital maelstrom. Aesthetically, the film is one of the most attractive that the studio has given us, both in the imagery of Palmera City and in the gadgets and vehicles, or Jaime’s suit (a marvel of design) and his powers, which also show influence from the video games (there is a direct reference to ‘Final Fantasy’ and Nintendo’s Power Glove inspired one of its accessories) or body horror (Soto himself cites David Cronenberg’s cinema as a reference and you can see the first time that the Beetle takes over from Jaime’s body). In addition, Blue Beetle’s visual identity exploits that ubiquitous touch of neon that has been so popular these days and is cleverly complemented by the wonderful synth-based retro soundtrack by Bobby Krlic (The Haxan Cloak).
But its greatest weapon, as we said, are its characters, an eclectic group of personalities and idiosyncrasies that make up a fun augmented reflection of many families. Soto has used the expression “love letter” a lot to refer to the film, and as hackneyed as it may be, ‘Blue Beetle’ is just that, a tribute to the family (to Latinos, yours and ours) that makes all of its members into heroes, including Grandma; and that in this case, moreover, it goes hand in hand with a allegation against imperialism, gentrification and, in general, the invasion of cultureswith which the film aims to raise awareness beyond fun and action.
As a story of origins, ‘Blue Beetle’ is rather basic, but in the end, it is precisely in its simplicity where it finds its greatest asset. Unlike other recent DC movies, this isn’t a studio-imposed Frankenstein (or at least it doesn’t feel like it), but rather tells a contained and focused story that benefits from not being completely tied down to interconnectivity. of shared universes and shows that, with few exceptions, these films work better the more independent and closed in on themselves they are.. ‘Blue Beetle’ has a tough time coming at a critical time for DC, but this is the movie to get back the faith, an electric, funny and heartfelt sci-fi action spectacle that, by distancing itself from its heroes more celebrities, postulates Jaime Reyes as the future of the saga.
The best: See the Reyes family in action. The great success of Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes. His aesthetics and personality.
Worst: As a superhero story it is not original. The humor is sometimes a bit forced.