Blue Beetle Review | A Latino Infusion to the DC Universe


The DC Universe gets a much-needed Latino infusion with a superhero origin story based on the importance of family. Blue Beetle breaks the comic book adaptation mold by giving a young Mexican protagonist the blockbuster popcorn cinema treatment. Xolo Maridueña lights up the screen with an endearing and awkward personality. He gets narrative help from a slew of busybody relatives who have his back when the going gets tough. This also works against the film, as one character in particular strays too goofy and annoying for my taste. That said, a winning combo of an encouraging lead, solid action scenes, and sharp visual effects deliver a fun summer ride.

Jaime Reyes (Maridueña) arrives at the Palmera City airport eager to see his beloved family. The recent college graduate is smothered with hugs, kisses, and unfortunate news. His sarcastic sister, Milagro (Belissa Escobedo), informs him that they’re losing the house, and his father, Alberto (Damián Alcázar), recovered from a heart attack.

A stunned Jaime promises to do anything to help his dad and keep their home. Rudy (George Lopez), Jaime’s ponytail-wearing, conspiracy theorist uncle, loads everyone into Taco, his tricked out Toyota Tacoma. He curses mega corporation Kord Industries for forcing the poor out of their homes.

Meanwhile, on Pago Island, there’s another complicated family plot. Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) lands at a secret base with gleeful nefarious intentions. Her cyborg henchman, Conrad Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo), has finally located the Scarab, an alien device with extraordinary powers.

Ted Kord, Victoria’s brother and the company’s missing former CEO, went to great lengths to hide it from her. The discovery will revolutionize military defense systems and make Kord Industries the world’s biggest arms manufacturer. Victoria’s biggest obstacle is Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine) — Ted’s daughter and Victoria’s pacifist niece — who vehemently opposes the company’s transition to weaponry.

A Family Affair

Blue Beetle Cast
Warner Bros. Pictures

In Palmera City, Jaime cannot find a job despite having a degree. He’s forced to work with Milagro as an attendant at Victoria’s palatial waterfront mansion. Jaime spots a tense argument between her and the beautiful Jenny. He interrupts their showdown when Carapax lurches threateningly towards Jenny. Chivalry gets Jaime and Milagro fired on the spot by Victoria. But he gets a surprising reprieve before being forced to leave. Jenny promises to get him a new position at the company’s headquarters.

Related: 9 DC Movies That Are Better than Most of the MCU

Blue Beetle incorporates the classic comic’s lore into a modern storyline. Screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Miss Bala) keeps the focus on Jaime’s incredible transformation but pays homage to the previous costumed heroes. Die-hard fans, if they exist for this character, will be tickled by nods to Dan Garrett, the first Blue Beetle, and Ted Kord, his student, who replaced Dan but wasn’t able to use the Scarab.

Ted’s influence is particularly important as Jaime and Jenny try to understand the scope of the Scarab’s abilities. Pop star and actress Becky G voices Khaji-Da, the artificial intelligence that controls the Scarab and chooses its human host. Her role is purposely limited to keep some alien aspects mysterious for future installments.

Blue Beetle has a similar look to Marvel’s Iron Man and the Iron Spider nanotech armor that Tony Stark developed for Spider-Man. The Scarab implants itself like a symbiote into Jaime’s spine and grows a metallic exoskeleton under duress. The suit materializes over his skin with a digital interface in the helmet. He struggles to control Khaji-Da and stop the Scarab from lethal impulses.

These scenes are reminiscent of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War, where Peter Parker fumbles with gadgets. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery and works well here. It’s a steep learning curve as Jaime takes more than a few lumps learning to use the Scarab.

Related: Blue Beetle’s History, Powers, and Road to the Big Screen

George Lopez as Uncle Rudy

George Lopez in Blue Beetle trailer

The film has an underlying theme of fighting imperialism and unbridled capitalism. Victoria, an unholy mix of Lex Luthor and Elon Musk, holds profit and power above humanistic values. She’ll kill anyone standing in her way without batting an eye. Jenny’s life means nothing as her only relative. Dunnet-Alcocer also brings up the US military’s infamous School of the Americas (SOA) that trained Latin American guerrillas in brutal warfare tactics. The humor ceases when the film takes an unexpected turn to explore the horrific aftermath of the SOA’s influence.

Blue Beetle keeps the Reyes family front and center throughout. You’ll get a kick out of Jaime’s badass grandmother, Nana (Adriana Barraza), but tire quickly of Uncle Rudy’s antics. George Lopez has had tremendous success as a comedian and actor. He brings his shtick to Blue Beetle with mixed results. Rudy goes from silly funny to downright irritating as the plot progresses. The character detracts from Jaime’s journey in pivotal moments. There’s a lot to like about the film, but Rudy’s buffoonery should have been truncated. Stick around during and after the credits, though.

Blue Beetle is a production of DC Studios and The Safran Company. It will be released theatrically on August 18th from Warner Bros. You can watch the trailer below.

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