All Ages of Geek Blue Beetle

Blue Beetle Review

A hero’s origin story follows the simple formula of an average person who gains a power that is bestowed upon them and is pushed into the life of a superhero when the need arises. With the strength of the hero’s loved ones and a tragedy that befalls on them, they become the savior that they were meant to be. Blue Beetle fits that category as the first live-action adaptation of this DC superhero that infuses that similar story with some cultural references that relate to the Latino community. Led by the charismatic Xolo Mariduena as the hero’s alter ego Jaime Reyes, it is only the beginning of this young man’s heroic journey. It is a film that strives to be an important one for DC, and it absolutely delivers on that promise to be fun and filled with heart.

Blue Beetle follows the story of Jaime, a young man straight out of college who looks forward to having a bright future. When he returns home to his family, the Reyes face some hard times as they struggle to make ends meet. Fate soon has plans for Jaime after he finds himself in possession of an ancient alien scarab when he is entrusted by Kord Industry’s young heiress Jenny (Bruna Marquezine) to protect it with his life. When the scarab chooses Jaime as its host, it fuses with him and gifts him a symbiotic suit of armor that gives him otherworldly abilities beyond his imagination. Struggling with these new powers, Jaime realizes he has a calling to become the hero that he needs to be for his family and perhaps the world as he also faces those who are also after his powers. In order to fight against these forces, Jaime must embrace his newfound abilities and accept his role as a superhero that destiny intended.

Xolo really draws in the audience with his portrayal of Jaime Reyes. Being his first feature film as a lead, the young actor indeed identifies with the character since they both have a similar upbringing. Stepping out of his breakout role of Miguel in Cobra Kai, Xolo manages to make Jaime relatable as he carries double duty playing both Jaime and his alter ego Blue Beetle when he’s in his suit. We get to see him interact with his family, which is what helps make Jaime connect with the audience. We get to see Xolo portray a wide variety of emotions as he goes through the motions of becoming a hero. He goes through different phases like responsibility, love, and sadness that all become ingredients in Jaime’s origin story.

The film isn’t just about Jaime, but also his family. Each member gets their time to shine and become instant standouts in the scenes they are in. The ones that truly steal the spotlight are George Lopez and Adriana Baarraza, who plays Jaime’s tech-smart uncle and his strong-willed grandmother. Both of them provide some humor and heart into the story to help balance the superhero aspects of the plot. It’s great to see characters like Uncle Rudy being more than just a fun-loving relative as he has proven to be very tech-savvy, which comes in handy for Jaime as he tries to uncover more about the mysterious origins of the scarab. Jaime’s grandmother also has more to offer as she is the fighting spirit that rallies the family together in their time of need. We see just how much of a fighter Nana really is as she goes up against those in power like those back home.

Being that this is also director Angel Manuel Soto’s first big feature for a big studio, he has done a great job putting in as much of the Latinx experience as possible. Blue Beetle showcases many of the cultural references that the community will recognize, especially the struggles of an immigrant coming to the States. For a superhero film, it’s great that Blue Beetle keeps things grounded in reality that helps the audience relate. Despite all these issues, it is not the main focus of the story, but it is part of the Reyes’ everyday life as they struggle with hardships in the real world like gentrification and big corporations getting a grasp over minority neighborhoods. There are parallels seeing Jaime trying to understand his powers and fighting against Kord Industries who are after the scarab, which is the same as immigrants as they also fight for a slice of the American Dream.

Unfortunately, Blue Beetle does carry some of the same flaws in recent superhero flicks when it comes to its villains. Susan Sarandon plays the antagonist, Victoria Ford, who is just your typical villain who is all about greed. Its characteristics are like this that audiences have seen before and don’t add anything interesting to the film. She represents the corporate powers that be as she controls her late brother’s company and builds a legacy for herself. There’s room to make her a compelling villain, but ultimately the film fails to achieve that. The same can be said about her right-hand man Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo), who acts more like a foil to our heroes who can go toe-to-toe against Jaime in his battle armor as he has one of his own.

It is only during the third act of the film that the audience truly understands where Carapax is coming from, but it is too little too late as there wasn’t enough time to build his character. We see how Carapax also faces similar battles back home like Nana when imperialism takes over. It is a real-world issue that Blue Beetle tries to tackle as well, but it just comes in a rush rather than slowly peeling the layers of this complicated individual. It is the villains that help push the hero forward, but it became more like training wheels for our protagonist to become the superhero. On the plus side, the final fight between Jaime and Carapax does carry a huge dose of action that will keep audiences cheering when they see it happen.

Overall, Blue Beetle is a step in the right direction when it comes to representation of the Latinx community in movies and perhaps one of DC Studios’ better films to come out so far. A film like this is an essential milestone for families who strive for a superhero story they can relate to. The film tackles real-world issues, but it’s merely in the background as it manages to deal with the lightheartedness of the superhero genre, something that most of the recent DC films have been missing for a while. Blue Beetle tells a human story and not just about a superhero. It is a smaller-scale film but it brings significant results that offer a promise of what DC films can do if given a fair chance.

Blue Beetle is now playing in theaters everywhere.

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