Blue Beetle Movie Review: Jaime Reyes & His Family Are The Superheroes 2023 Needed
Disclaimer: This Blue Beetle movie review includes SPOILERS.
After several years since its initial development, Blue Beetle has finally arrived as Jaime Reyes comes to life on the big screen in the midst of the superhero genre having faced its challenges over the last few years. Directed by Ángel Manuel Soto, based on a screenplay by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, the story focuses on young Jaime (played by Xolo Maridueña) having his life turned upside down when the powerful alien Scarab chooses him as its host, turning him into the iconic DC superhero while becoming the first Latino superhero film.
As someone who has looked up to Jaime since the 2010s, Maridueña is the perfect embodiment of the DC fan-favorite, as he captures all of his charm, heroic drive, and passionate heart that the character has always carried in the pages of the comics and various animated depictions. The decision to focus on Jaime during his young adult life instead of his teenage years is definitely a solid choice, as it still allows Blue Beetle to tell a young hero’s life but relate it to all audiences. One can only imagine what it must feel like for the Latino audience to see someone of their culture finally shine on the big screen in a genre that has become one of Hollywood’s biggest genres of all time.
While this critic may not be of the Latino community himself, the deeper social commentary that Blue Beetle presents are definitely something that stands out, but in a powerful way, which is appreciated. Audience members that may not know what Latinos go through in the real world get an introduction to some of the challenges that they go through in real life, but the film does it in a way where it doesn’t become solely about that and instead does it organically, which is compelling in itself.
The heart of Blue Beetle is that it is not just a story about Jaime; it is about the journey of the Reyes family. From a remarkable supporting cast of Milagro (Belissa Escobedo,) Alberto (Damián Alcázar,) Rocio (Elpidia Carrillo), and the scene-stealers Uncle Rudy (George Lopez,) and Nana (Adriana Barraza ,) Blue Beetle makes you care for them the minute they are introduced, which can sometimes be a challenge in a big ensemble film. Whether it is the tragic story that Nana alludes to throughout the backhalf of the film to Uncle Rudy bringing heartful comedy and passion, these are characters that we want to see more of in future stories.
Bruna Marquezine, as the inspiring Jenny Kord, is another hero in Blue Beetle that needs to be highlighted, especially when you see the ruthless corruption that her aunt Victoria (Susan Sarandon) has brought their family name’s legacy. Jenny becomes the perfect character to give the audience a deeper understanding of what the Kord dynasty actually stands for before her aunt took over Kord Industries, which became the film’s representation of the military-industrial complex while her niece fights for the company to be able to give back to the world. Jenny is someone you want to be while Victoria is the perfect villain you love to hate, as her actions get crueler throughout Blue Beetle’s progression. Marquezine’s Jenny is inspired casting as she leaves you wanting to learn more about her journey, especially now that she is running Kord Industries. The romance that is built upon between Jenny and Jaime throughout the story actually has room to breathe, leading to their passionate first kiss at the very end, which is something superhero films don’t always achieve.
A big surprise about Blue Beetle was Raoul Max Trujillo’s Ignacio Carapax (or OMAC,) who could have easily been a one-dimensional antagonist but instead becomes one of the tragic heroes of the story. When Jaime discovers what Victoria had done to Ignacio and the damage she caused his life, the creative team avoided him being the big bad’s soldier, as he turns on his abuser and get to give her the payback she absolutely deserves. Carapax, who is one of the more obscure DC foes, gets the kind of reimagination that is highly respected because while you have a super-villain like Victoria to hate, you get a tragic antagonist in Carapax, who has had all of his choices taken away prior to his memories being restored.
Looking at Blue Beetle from its production, the DC installment arrives at a time when these blockbuster studios have felt more like CGI barbeques, which is thankfully not the case with this movie. From the incredible costume design for Jaime’s super suit, adding as many practical effects as possible, to visuals executed throughout the action scenes, the moments with Ted Kord’s Bug ship, to all the showdowns with Carapax, never feels like you are watching a video game, but instead the hard efforts of incredible production. Bobby Krlic’s composing gives the film actual themes that you remember, rather than simple background music that feel like it could be used for any movie.
Blue Beetle is a film for all audiences, but especially Latino, and even Brown viewers, and that is something that is echoed when Milagro says, “We’re invisible to people like that, Jaime. It’s like our superpower,” which is just one of many moments that pull the heartstrings in the story. On that note, the final causality in the film that breaks our hearts were the courageous sacrifice of Harvey Guillén as José Francisco Morales Rivera de la Cruz, who in the 11th hour sees that Victoria doesn’t care for humanity, as he becomes Jaime’s hero that saves his life.
Blue Beetle absolutely leaves you wanting more, and it is because of the principal characters that this story highlights. Sure, their post-credits scene teasing that Ted is still alive is a compelling bonus, but this ever became a film where you were only interested to see the post-credits scene to see how it sets up the next big interconnected universe movie. Blue Beetle also feels like a great taste of the new DC Universe that is coming, and it will be exciting to see where all of these phenomenal characters go in future stories.
Hopefully, if DC Studios and Warner Bros. are wise, they will give full reigns to Soto and Dunnet-Alcocer for future Blue Beetle installments, as this creative duo crafted a story that became one of 2023’s best superhero arcs, giving something fresh to the genre while also offering inclusivity in an industry that still has room for improvement when it comes to representing minorities. You feel from start to finish that this film was created to be something special, and not a repeat of other superhero arcs. Something that has been incredibly inspiring to see for Blue Beetle, aside from its incredible cast and creative team, is the drive of the fandom, as this film is coming out in the midst of not one, but two extremely important strikes for the Writers Guild of America and SAG-AFTRA, leaving multiple actors and Dunnet-Alcocer unable to promote this film. The Blue Beetle Battalion became a story for this film on the outside, and it is absolutely something that deserves the highest praise.
Blue Beetle serves as a reminder that heroism comes in different shapes and forms from any culture and that no matter what forces are telling you that you can’t be one: you can absolutely be your own hero.
Rating: 5 out of 5.
Blue Beetle, starring Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes / Blue Beetle, Bruna Marquezine as Jenny Kord, Susan Sarandon as Victoria Kord, Belissa Escobedo as Milagro Reyes, George Lopez as Rudy Reyes, Raoul Max Trujillo as Ignacio Carapax / OMAC, Adriana Barraza as Nana, Damián Alcázar as Alberto Reyes, Elpidia Carrillo as Rocio Reyes, Harvey Guillén as José Francisco Morales Rivera de la Cruz and Becky G as the voice of Khaji-Da, is now playing in theaters.