To expand upon my quick thoughts in the video, Blue Beetle is a superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name directed by Ángel Manuel Soto (Charm City Kings) from a screenplay written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Miss Bala). Featuring Xolo Maridueña, Adriana Barraza, Damián Alcázar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, and George Lopez. The story follows Jaime Reyes, a Hispanic teen who becomes the host of a sentient alien scarab that grants him a superpowered armored exoskeleton.
In Antarctica, Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) arrives to meet with her enforcer Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo). They are trying to cut through a giant stone sphere which Victoria believes contains an alien artifact known as the Scarab. One of her scientists tells her that this could be another decoy, but Victoria is adamant that they have found it. As the sphere begins to crack a blue light is shown emanating from inside.
Deep in outer space, Scarabs of many colors are sent out in all directions. A blue one makes its way through the cosmos and eventually lands on Earth. Newspaper clippings show that the Scarab was found by an archaeologist named Dan Garrett. He gets funding to research the Scarab from Ted Kord and soon a new hero appears in Palmera City named Blue Beetle. Later Ted Kord goes missing and his sister Victoria is named CEO of Kord Industries.
I am a big fan of DC comics and cartoons. I was not truly aware of Blue Beetle until he appeared in Batman the Brave and the Bold. I liked the character more when he appeared in Young Justice: Invasion. Learning about his history and the different people to take on the mantle was very interesting to me. Also finding out about the Reach and the other Beetles in the universe made the character more appealing. After finding out he would get a movie in the DCEU I was ecstatic. Then I found out it would be an HBO Max exclusive and that was disheartening. Luckily though the movie was bumped up to a theatrical release after David Zaslav took over. (Unfortunately, Batgirl didn’t have the same luck) After seeing the movie, however, maybe it should have gotten the axe as well.
That’s not to say the movie is entirely bad. Starting with the good. The casting is on point. Anyone who is a fan of Cobra Kai knows that Xolo Maridueña was the perfect choice for Jaime Reyes. He has the youthful energy and charisma needed to pull off the role. The rest of the cast is great as well. The Blue Beetle suit looks great. It feels nice to live in an age where comic-accurate suits get their due diligence. I would have cared for a more appealing voice for Khaji-Da though. The one in Young Justice was perfect in my opinion. Just the right amount of homicidal anecdotes you’d expect from an alien war machine.
There are many other issues with this film though. Starting with the CGI. Except for the aforementioned Blue Beetle costume, everything else looks like a video game. You can tell that this movie was made on a streaming budget. This film also doesn’t truly connect to anything. It might as well be a stand-alone feature. The Daily Planet newspaper is shown and Batman is mentioned, but we don’t get any other information as to what’s going on in this world. For all we know this movie could take place in the Burtonverse from The Flash or the Arrowverse from CW. Also, the script doesn’t do the movie any favors, to say the least. Some of the scenes felt right out of a soap opera. On paper characters like Victoria have a great backstory. She is teed up to be an empathetic and relatable villain. In the final product, however, it is executed poorly. It’s like the writers have her do evil things for no reason to try and make her seem more like a villain. Some of which are outright unnecessary for her to complete her plan.
In reality, Blue Beetle suffers from not bringing anything new to the table. The armored suit has been done in Iron Man, the alien suit talking to you has been done by Venom, and the young superhero has been done by Shazam! and Spider-Man. Having this movie come out at a time when the DCEU is ending and superhero movies aren’t hitting like they used to was a mistake. About 10 years ago this movie would have been a moderate success, but people no longer show up from mediocre comic book movies anymore. Even some of the better adaptations seem to be struggling.
Overall, Xolo’s energetic performance and the family dynamic make this film worth a watch, but nothing to get too excited about. I give Blue Beetle a Solid 6.2/10. Ideally, this movie should have been released after Superman: Legacy and retooled as a complete edition of the DCU. This would have guaranteed a substantial profit due to the movie’s low budget if Superman exceeded expectations and nixed the need to reintroduce the character in another film.