DC has finally rediscovered its Heart. Blue Beetle is a Superhero movie that brings the whole family along for the ride!
On-screen representation shouldn’t really be controversial. Some young people are inspired by ‘if you see it, you can be it’. Seeing someone like yourself and your culture represented on screen not only feels like acceptance by other parts of society but also inspires and shakes up the ‘status quo’ with new ideas and an alternative outlook on societies issues and events. We saw this with people of African origin when the Black Panther movies were released.
And while this may not be on the same scale or grandeur, the Latino representation on display here feels grounded and like a more realistic portrayal of normal people. Every Mexican family aren’t the same of course but representation must start somewhere. Those who have historically seen people who look like them on screens since the dawn of Hollywood won’t understand and may ask what’s the big deal?
Others may be resistant out of fear the superheroes on screen no longer looking like them. Which means on some level, they actually understand how important on-screen representation is to young people’s identity. It’s within this landscape the new Blue Beetle movie arrives on our screens. Directed by Angel Manuel Soto and starring Xolo Maridueña in the lead role of Jamie Reyes aka The Blue Beetle.
Blue Beetle is the penultimate movie in the DCEU series of movies, ahead of Aquaman 2 in December. Unlike the other DCEU movies, this is the only one that is confirmed to be continuing into the DCU under new DC bosses James Gunn and Peter Safran (the Blue Beetle movie is produced by Peter Safran’s production company, so maybe not a surprise).
The Blue Beetle character has been a part of comic book mythology since the 1939. To put that into perspective, that’s as long as Batman has been around. The character was purchased by DC in 1983 and has appeared in different iterations across comics and animated shows over the years but this movie marks the long-awaited big screen debut.
Jamie Reyes is the third character in the comics to become Blue Beetle and this is where the movie chooses as an introductory point for the audience. Jamie comes home from college after graduating only to find his family have faced a number of financial hardships and are dealing with some very tough times, albeit with a big dose of optimism. Jamie decides that the best thing is to invest his time and energy into getting any job he can to support the family.
While seeking employment at the mega cooperation KORD Industries, a chance run in with heiress Jenny Kord (Bruna Marqezine) leaves him with a mysterious package. It contains an alien artifact known as ‘The Scarab’ which fuses with him and bestows him with technological superpowers beyond anything on earth. This makes Jamie a target and puts him and his family firmly in the cross hairs of KORD Industries CEO Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon)
Even though this movie was created under the old DCEU regime, it doesn’t require any knowledge of the previous films and doesn’t rely on superhero cameos from other DC properties. It’s a self-contained standalone package making Blue Beetle feel, bright, bold, and refreshing. The hero is beautifully brought to screen with visual effects which are (thankfully) mostly solid. The cast are charming and while the film has a comical tone overall, the jokes are the kind you’ll find around a family table rather than razor sharp pop culture quips.
While there are high stakes, this movie feels like a very personal story. An insight into the life and struggles of one regular Mexican family. Despite coming across something extraordinary, they deal with it like every other challenge they face – together as a family.
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After many mis steps and questionable decisions, it seems like DC movies may have finally rediscovered its heart. It’s not a perfect movie and there are certainly areas I could pick at (e.g. I found myself more than once comparing certain elements of this to the original Antman movie) but the sum of the whole is more important here to me. Due to the backlash from The Flash movie and the writers’ strike, Warner haven’t promoted this a fraction as much as they should which is a shame and a missed opportunity.
In my opinion they have a family friendly crowd pleaser on their hands but it’s success may depend on a number of external factors like a) word of mouth, b) people still willing to support DC movies and c) whether you believe superhero fatigue is a real thing.
Either way Blue Beetle is representation done right and a delightful superhero debut and I for one am interested in what they do next with the character.