‘Blue Beetle’ Looks Like One of DC’s Most Fun Films Yet
"Batman's a fascist!" - Uncle Rudy
It’s an exciting day for those of us who’ve been waiting for a Latine hero to front a live-action blockbuster superhero movie! DC’s Blue Beetle trailer dropped today, and by the looks of it, this could be one of the most fun films from DC, like, ever.
Check it out for yourself:
Mostly Latine cast? Sign me up!
The film stars Cobra Kai‘s Xolo Maridueña as recent college grad, Jaime Reyes.
According to DC, Jaime “returns home full of aspirations for his future, only to find that home is not quite as he left it. As he searches to find his purpose […] fate intervenes when Jaime finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology: the Scarab. When the Scarab suddenly chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host, he is bestowed with an incredible suit of armor capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers.”
Blue Beetle is a Who’s Who of Latine stars, including George Lopez (Lopez vs. Lopez) as Jaime’s uncle Rudy, Damián Alcázar (Narcos: Mexico) as his father, Alberto; Elpidia Carrillo (Mayans M.C.) as his mother, Rocio; Belissa Escobedo (Hocus Pocus 2) as his sister, Milagro; and Bruna Marquezine (I Love Paraisópolis) as The Love Interest, Jenny.
What We Do in the Shadows fan fave Harvey Guillén is also in the film in an undisclosed role. (Any guesses, DC fans?)
And lest you think there are no opportunities for white folks in film anymore, Susan Sarandon plays Blue Beetle‘s antagonist, Victoria Kord, who is a character created for the film, and is supposed to be the wife of Ted Kord, the previous Blue Beetle in the comics.
Wait, do we know Blue Beetle?
Jaime Reyes is technically the third Blue Beetle in comics, though only the second one from DC. From Wikipedia:
Introduced in 1939, the original Blue Beetle, Dan Garret, was a Fox Comics police officer who fought crime with superpowers gained by ingesting Vitamin 2X. A revamped version of this character, archaeologist Dan Garrett, introduced in 1964 by Charlton Comics drew mystical abilities from an ancient Egyptian scarab. Published by Charlton Comics and later DC, 1966 creation Ted Kord was Garret’s student who continued his legacy of costumed crime-fighting, although he had no superpowers.
DC Comics retconned the entire Blue Beetle mythos in 2006, creating Jaime Reyes and making the scarab extraterrestrial in origin.
In his new origin, teenager Jaime finds the Scarab after it’s fallen to Earth. Booster Gold tries to retrieve it from him, but it has fused to his spine and become a part of him. Wackiness ensues.
Jaime became the new Blue Beetle in Infinite Crisis #5 and two months later got his own solo monthly comic. After several changes in the creative team, the book was canceled with Issue #36 in early 2009. Then-editor Dan DiDio told Newsarama that Blue Beetle was “a book that we started with very high expectations, but it lost its audience along the way.”
This wasn’t the end of the character, however. Blue Beetle turned up in his own co-feature as part of Booster Gold’s comic, had adventures with the Teen Titans, and has appeared in multiple mediums. There’ve also been two more solo monthly books. The first was part of DC’s New 52 continuity, which lasted from 2011-2013.
The second is part of DC’s Rebirth continuity, which retconned the Scarab’s origin again. It’s magic again now, not alien, and in this version, Jaime is working with Ted Kord to figure out how to get the Scarab out of his back.
Blue Beetle’s Powers & Abilities:
- the Scarab, fused to Jaime’s back, creates the superpowered Blue Beetle suit by bursting out of his back and enveloping him. Ouch. That’s gotta hurt.
- when active, the suit can reconfigure itself to create whatever weapons or protections it needs, including an energy cannon, a sword and shield, a grappling hook, a device like a communications satellite, a set of foot-long powered blades, and a set of wings that allow for flight and additional shielding.
- the suit can also produce energy from the hands that can neutralize magic and discharge the radiation from Kryptonite
- even when the suit isn’t active, it gives Jaime the ability to see extra-dimensional objects
Does this DC movie actually … look like a good time?
We’ve seen a bit of levity from DCU films in recent years—most notably with Birds of Prey, The Suicide Squad (not to be confused with the extremely un-light Suicide Squad), and the first Shazam! movie. (Plus, of course, many of the DCEU’s television series.) But in general, the DCU still maintains a reputation for its grimdark take on its characters and stories. Whereas Marvel tends to approach even its more serious storylines with a lightness and a sense of humor, DC films have tended to be darker, as if every character needs to match Bruce Wayne’s temperament.
Blue Beetle seems to be aiming to be the DCEU’s answer to Marvel’s Spider-Man movies or their Ms. Marvel series. The new trailer leans into the humor in Jaime not being able to control the suit’s powers, as well as into his youthful exuberance, relationships, and interests.
One refreshing difference, however, is that he has his transformation in front of his family and isn’t trying to hide his identity. Thank goodness! I’m so over Spider-Man’s whole Hiding-My-Identity-to-Protect-My-Loved-Ones-Which-Only-Puts-Them-in-More-Danger thing.
In fact, it’s Jaime’s connection to his family that is a strength and important support for him, both in the comics, and in the film. It’s something that feels true to the character’s Mexican background, and provides a charming cast of characters at Jaime’s back who aren’t the usual suspects. It feels very similar to Kamala Khan’s Pakistani family and community on Ms. Marvel, who make Kamala’s adventures richer and more meaningful.
Superpowers have always been a great metaphor for growing up and hitting life’s milestones as a way to explore life’s problems and life’s possibilities. It’s nice to see that take the form of a less broody and much more fun, and optimistic approach.
We’ll all get to enjoy this breath of fresh air when Blue Beetle arrives in theaters on August 18th!
(featured image: Warner Bros.)
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