Blue Beetle 2023 Movie Review
In a year full of great films that have already entered the cultural zeitgeist, if there’s one that absolutely deserves to hold its place on the list, it’s Blue Beetle.
It’s not only the first film – and overall intro to – James Gunn and Peter Safran’s new DC Universe, but it’s also the first fully embraced Latino superhero for Warner Bros. Discovery. Thanks to the wonderful team at Nosotros (the oldest Latino arts advocacy group in the U.S.), I was able to get a first look at the start of DC’s new film universe.
The idea to start this rebooted universe with Blue Beetle may have initially been unintended (There are lots of things happening behind the scenes, I’m sure.), but it was the right choice. There have already been many iterations of Superman and Batman, so starting with a lesser-known hero helps to develop and introduce everyone to this new DC film universe.
Directed by Angel Manuel Soto, Blue Beetle is about Jaime Reyes, a recent pre-law grad returning home to his family amid health scares and evictions. He soon stumbles upon and is subsequently chosen to be the symbiotic host to the Scarab, an alien biotechnological relic that essentially turns him into an alien-like Iron Man.
This is a film that will offer every kind of fan something to enjoy. There’s action, comedy, a hero’s journey, and a lot of heart. If you’re experiencing superhero fatigue, this is just the film to excite you once again. Soto never shies away from really delving into what it means for Jaime to be a hero.
For starters, this is a hero who really doesn’t want to be a hero. It’s not in a humble “I’m just a regular guy,” way, but rather he’s completely disinterested in the idea. Jaime is dragged kicking and screaming into becoming one, as the scarab has symbiotically fused with him. Another fascinating idea of the film: the Cronenburg-inspired aspect of his hero transformation.
It can be hard to fully grasp what it means to symbiotically bond with something in a way that is horrifying, so it’s great that Soto dives head-first into its depiction. The Cronenburg-esque body horror of Jaime and the scarab becoming Blue Beetle adds an understandable layer of empathy with Jaime’s apprehension, playing off each other in an exciting new way.
Although the apprehension and the body horror elevate the plot, the heart of the film is Jaime’s love for his family. I, too, come from a Latino family, and although we may be different, the Reyes family felt just like my own. The interactions, the culture, and the way they communicate with each other were all too familiar, and I’m sure other Latino viewers will find the same things. The themes of family are done so well here; you may even see your own family reflected within the Reyes family, even if you aren’t part of the Latino community.
If you’re a Blue Beetle comic book fan, you’ll find that there is a lot of respect for the source material, as well. This goes for both versions of the character – Jaime Reyes and Ted Kord – whose presence is felt throughout the entirety of the film in a way that doesn’t lose its focus on Jaime and his story.
This summer saw a lot of great films come out, but I would highly encourage you to round out your summer with Blue Beetle. It’s a refreshing comic book film with heart, humor, passion, and a Latino family. Plus, a grandma with a big gun is always a win in my book.
Blue Beetle will release on August 18, 2023, and stars Xolo Maridueña, Bruna Marquezine, Adriana Barraza, Damián Alcázar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, and George Lopez. Show your support to the writers, actors, and crew of this amazing film.