What would happen if a superhero’s family knew from the beginning about their powers? That question is asked and answered in DC’s Blue Beetle.
The plot: Jaime Reyes has recently returned from college to his hometown of Palmera City and has found that the family he has left behind have been struggling, and they will soon being losing their home to the Kord Corporation that has set their sights on the neighborhood for development. After a disastrous meeting with the head of the Kord Corporation, Victoria Kord, Jaime runs into her niece Jenny Kord who offers to help him. This event sends Jaime on a crash course to activating a mysterious blue scarab and his destiny to become the Blue Beetle.
Jaime Reyes is played by Xolo Maridueña, who does a great job of bringing Jaimes’ feeling of being an amateur superhero to life. He shines in a scene where Jaime receives his powers from Khaji-Da, an entity that imbues and controls the scarab. Maridueña’s acting choices in this scene make it one of the most realistic and funny instances of a superhero receiving powers that I have witnessed.
Besides Maridueña’s portrayal the other asset in this film is how the theme of family is woven throughout. The Reyes family includes Damián Alcázar as Alberto Reyes, Elpidia Carrillo as Rocio Reyes, Belissa Escobedo as Milagro Reyes, and George Lopez as Rudy Reyes with Adriana Barraza who plays Nana, all of who lend to the importance of family. The Reyes family plays an integral part in Jaime’s journey to become the Blue Beetle — from witnessing him receiving his powers to actively helping him escape when he is caught by Kord and her army.
Lopez shines as Jaime’s conspiracy nut uncle who uses his knowledge of technology to aid Jaime in his fight with Kord and OMAC. Nana is also given a moment to shine and the audience will leave the theater wondering if Nana might even have a secret identity. The family being featured so heavily strengthens the movie and makes it unique from its counterparts because the film sees family as a strength and not a weakness or burden that other superhero films rely on.
One letdown in Blue Beetle is the appearance of familiar trope that many superhero fans will recognize that all superhero films seem to be dying to replicate. The other weakness of the film is the villains — both Kord and OMAC are not fleshed out or given strong motives as to why they are so desperate to build superhuman army. Additionally the costume for OMAC looks bizarre and out of place when it is compared to the amazing Blue Beetle costume.
Eagle eye viewers will catch a few references to the wider DC universe but the film is not set in a specific universe, which actually helps because it gives the film a chance to stand on its own feet. Blue Beetle is definitely world building and leaves a few open ended questions that could see the character returning for additional adventures.
However, if there are no additional films, Blue Beetle is definitely a great stand alone movie that has comedy, action, and heart.
Blue Beetle is currently playing in theaters.