By Francisco Omar Fernandez Rodriguez
One of the more forgettable movies of 2023 so far is undoubtedly “Blue Beetle,” another DC superhero film with a focus on family. It is an adaptation of the character from DC Comics.
“Blue Beetle” was directed by Ángel Manuel Soto and written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer. In the box office, it is the lowest-grossing film in the DC extended universe. But despite this poor reception, this movie left an all right impression on me.
The story is centered around college graduate Jaime Reyes, who returns home to Palmera City. This setting was created for the movie - in the original comics it took place in El Paso, Texas. This change does line up with other DC superheroes, who live in fictional cities such as Gotham and Metropolis.
Soon after reuniting with his family he learns about their financial issues and decides to help by getting a job. He eventually meets Jenny Kord, who offers him work at Kord Industries. Unfortunately, Jaime is quickly roped into Jenny's own issues within the company.
Jaime is trusted to protect a blue beetle-shaped Scarab, which eventually bonds with him and grants him the powers of the Blue Beetle in the form of an exosuit. It also comes with a sentient voice that goes by Khaji-Da.
One positive note is that this is the first live-action superhero film to have a Latino star lead. Xolo Maridueña stars as Jaime Reyes, also known as the Blue Beetle. He is best known for his main role in “Cobra Kai” as Miguel Diaz. He was born in California and is of Mexican, Cuban, and Ecuadorian descent.
Playing Jenny Kord is Bruna Marquezine, a Brazilian actress and model. She has been in several telenovelas, also known as Latin American television soap operas. Jenny Kord is her first international role as an actress.
Khaji-Da, the sentient voice that helps Jaime use the Blue Beetle powers, is voiced by Becky G, a popular singer and actress.
“Blue Beetle” has a heavy focus on family, particularly a relatively poor Hispanic family. Jaime’s close relatives, parents, and sister, all live together in a single home. They used to have a family business, but they had to sell the garage in order to keep the house. Even with this sacrifice, they are at risk of being evicted.
Despite this, the family sustains a positive attitude, partially thanks to the father, Alberto Reyes. Even with his recent heart problems, he maintains an optimistic outlook for his loved ones.
Jenny’s family, on the other hand, is significantly worse despite being better off financially. Her parents are either missing or the obvious antagonist.
The tone switches between serious and comedic. There are plenty of jokes and humor thrown around, at least in the first half of the film. As the situation worsens and gets deadlier, the tone naturally gets heavier.
The film also touches on the issue of prejudice, with the main villain consistently stereotyping Hispanics. She doesn’t even learn the name of her head scientist, calling him “Sanchez” which, when you learn his real name, is blatantly wrong.
Palmera City is shown to effectively be divided into two regions, the rich prosperous city and the poorer, significantly less grand sections of town. To me it actually looks similar to traditional Hispanic homes. Jaime’s family lives in this area, and from what we see of the neighbors, this section is likely where the Latinos generally live.
There are parts of the story that feel like they’ve been done before. The exosuit and its voice can easily remind someone of Iron Man’s suit and AI. One of the villains uses their own version of the exosuit, which feels like an overdone trope.
Other similarities are typical of a superhero origin story. Jaime is suddenly given powers and has to decide to use them for good, even if he doesn't want to at first. He starts off wanting to get rid of the Scarab, but eventually decides it’s a good part of him. Even though this kind of plot is overdone, I still enjoyed watching it unfold.
Still, “Blue Beetle” wasn’t a bad movie, it just wasn’t that great. Even if it’s not very creative, Jaime’s character arc is adequate. I enjoyed watching it, especially the Hispanic representation. Maybe give it a watch, but you probably aren’t missing much if you don’t.
Good representation, all right plot, cool beetle