Review of “Blue Beetle”: DC’s Newest Trades Big Potential for Smaller Rewards

“Blue Beetle,” which stars Xolo Mariduea, avoids its numerous clichés by being more intimate and emphasising family.

Blue Beetle

During the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes in 2023, this review was written. The movie being discussed here would not exist without the work of the writers and performers who are now on strike.

DC often doesn’t have much concern for the little guy. Marvel has a lot of underdog heroes, while DC’s superheroes are more like gods (or, you know, are gods). Shazam and The Flash, two minor characters in the DC Universe, have the power to drastically alter the course of the planet. Even if DC has made attempts to incorporate lesser-known characters into this world in films like Black Adam and Birds of Prey, it is still obvious that the company is more concerned in coming up with fresh methods to tell the stories of its primary heroes, Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman.

This is why Blue Beetle seems, at least initially, to be a breath of new air. In this tale about striving for better things and, most importantly, family, director ngel Manuel Soto (2020’s Charm City Kings) and writer Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (2019’s Miss Bala) purposefully introduce lower stakes to the DC world. Soto and Dunnet-Alcocer prioritise the family as a unit in introducing this new hero to the public, while also conveying a tale with a neon-infused flair that sets it apart from most other superhero movies.Though Blue Beetle does strive to add its own touch to DC—and frequently succeeds—it’s difficult to watch this most recent installment without seeing an amalgamation of too many other characters we’ve seen in the past. Perhaps there are simply too many superhero films in the world.

A Collection of Superhero Influences Can Be Found in “Blue Beetle”

Jaime Reyes, played by Xolo Mariduea, is a recent college graduate who returns home to Palmera City to find that his family has already lost their auto shop, their house is in danger of being foreclosed upon, and that his father, Alberto (Damián Alcázar), has already had a heart attack. Jaime swears to find employment, keep his family’s house, and provide for them in whatever way he can.Unfortunately, the only employment he can find is cleaning Victoria Kord’s (Susan Sarandon) house. Victoria Kord is the owner of Kord Industries, a business that produces its own weapons and robot troops. Jaime promptly causes his sister Milagro (Belissa Escobedo) and himself to lose their employment, but Jenny, Victoria’s niece, tells Jaime to visit the Kord offices and she’ll offer him a new position in the business.

Jenny steals a scarab that fuels Victoria’s attempts to create super troops because she doesn’t like the route her father’s business has taken since Victoria took over. Jenny gives Jaime the scarab when the unaware Jaime visits Kord in search of work. Soon later, under some peer pressure from his family, Jaime touches the scarab. The scarab hooks onto him (by entering into his ass, it must be mentioned) and transforms him into a superhero with a strong exoskeleton that gives him armour and powers. He also has to battle the scarab for control.

Almost every single superhero origin tale we’ve seen before is combined in Blue Beetle. It’s impossible to help but compare Spider-Man to Jaime’s transformation into a superhero whose body was transformed by a monster he discovered at a huge firm. The Khaji-Da suit, which is voiced by Becky G, is very similar to the one used by Iron Man.The discovery of a hideout formerly governed by the previous owner of the Blue Beetle seems like a more pop-culture-influenced version of Batman, while an emphasis on the family unit is like a better-managed version of the family in Shazam!, and a look at the afterlife significantly draws from Black Panther. It’s not a bad combination of ingredients, but it’s difficult to see Blue Beetle without contemplating the countless inspirations that went into its creation.

‘Blue Beetle’ Succeeds because of its emphasis on family and lower stakes

The focus placed on the family as a unit in Blue Beetle distinguishes it from all of its sources of inspiration. Jaime’s family, including his father, sister, nana (Adriana Barraza), and uncle Rudy (George Lopez), accompany him on his trip to uncover his newly acquired skills. Every family member contributes something that Jaime needs, and some of Blue Beetle’s most endearing scenes include the family coming together to defend Jaime from Victoria’s prototype robot soldier, Conrad Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo), or to shame him.However, if you’re not a fan of Lopez, be prepared for perhaps an excessive dependence on him, since his one-liners—especially the ones that are often used—can get a little stale. Despite the fact that Blue Beetle sometimes seems like it was cobbled together from bits of other superhero movies, this emphasis on the family gives the story heart and makes it seem unique.

While choosing to focus on the family was a wise move, the narrative seemed to be diverted from the exciting paths it was already taking. Mariduea is a lot of fun, especially in the first act before gaining the Blue Beetle powers, when he’s trying to figure out where his character fits in after college.The screenplay by Dunnet-Alcocer gives away that Blue Beetle may explore gentrification issues, given how Kord Industries’ influence in Palmera City has hurt poorer families like the Reyes, or it may even touch on how those same individuals frequently appear to be virtually invisible to the rich. There are a lot of fascinating, deeper topics that are briefly mentioned when Victoria first appears in the beginning but never truly get explored.

“Blue Beetle” Is Lightweight DC Movies Are Frequently Missing

Victoria and Carapax, the antagonists in Blue Beetle, may not be particularly noteworthy (a late-in-the-movie attempt to make us sympathise with Carapax is regrettably too little too late), but it is a pleasant surprise to see a DC picture explore action with restraint. Again, the absence of potentially world-changing stakes enables filmmaker Soto to use more intimate, one-on-one combat than any of the action sequences in films like The Flash, Shazam! Fury of the Gods, or Black Adam.We haven’t often seen films in the DCEU explore these grounded sorts of tales, despite the fact that DC has tried smaller stories like this that feel removed from the broader universe surrounding them. The focus of Soto’s direction is on the fact that Blue Beetle is a human narrative rather than a superhero one.

Additionally, Soto gives Blue Beetle a lighter feel than what we currently anticipate from the DCEU. Blue Beetle is having fun with its universe and mainly succeeds, as seen by the neon lights that fill Palmera City, the family interactions, and the funny gadgets (one weapon is even constructed from an old Nintendo Power Glove). It’s a welcome difference to have a superhero narrative that doesn’t take itself too seriously because both DC and Marvel have recently battled with a more lighthearted tone.

Blue Beetle may not be a novel interpretation of the genesis tale of a superhero, but Soto and Dunnet-Alcocer do demonstrate the viability of a more intimate, lighthearted approach inside the DC Universe. Even while Blue Beetle may not be as well-known as Superman or Batman, now that his backstory has been revealed, he appears like a figure with potential for whatever route James Gunn and Peter Safran decide to take DC.

  • With its emphasis on lesser stakes and familial connections, Blue Beetle breathes new life into DC and differs just enough from other superhero movies.
  • While Blue Beetle is influenced by a number of other superhero origin stories, its focus on the family as a unit gives the narrative heart and charm.
  • The movie succeeds in telling a human narrative within the DC Universe while exploring action with moderation and a softer tone.

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