Blue Beetle Review

This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike movies like Blue Beetle would not exist.

Growing up there were not that many Latin superheroes on mainstream television for me. The closest thing to a Spanish superhero for me was El Chapolin Colorado, which was a segment in El Chavo Del Ocho. El Chavo was a show that played on my local Spanish station and showed El Chapolin having small adventures that were just silly. Yeah, there was Zorro, but I always thought of him as a Latino Robin Hood, plus he was good with a sword and did not have superpowers.

Fast forward many years and we had a version of America Chavez in Dr. Strange and the Multiverse of Madness and before that, we got Mile Morales in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. While America was mainly used as a plotline, Miles gave us a Latino superhero that we can all relate to. I can not forget Robby Reyes’ Ghost Rider on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. but I feel that by the time he arrived not many people were watching the show anymore. Hopefully, we will get Robby back one day.

This leads us all to Blue Beetle, our first Latino-led superhero movie directed and written by Latinos: Ángel Manuel Soto and Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer. While this may not seem like a big deal to others, having people from the culture work on a movie of this stature translates into a movie that knows its audience and celebrates who they are. Yes, Blue Beetle may be heavy-handed with Latino references every now and then but it needs to be. While some references might go over the heads of those that watch the movie, there will be those that know exactly what they mean and connect to that reference. If the reference does not speak to you, please don’t negate it and call it unnecessary. take a moment and learn why it’s there and the significance of it.

XOLO MARIDUEÑA as Jaime Reyes in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “BLUE BEETLE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release

Blue Beetle starts off by introducing us to Susan Sarandon’s Victoria Kord. Victoria has been looking for an object and in the intro, we see that they might have finally found it. As the title sequences play, we see hints and footage of earlier iterations of the Blue Beetle. This leads us to the introduction of Jaime Reyes. Jaime is coming back from finishing college and is being met by his family at the airport. In the introduction to the Reyes family we see that they are excited for Jaime’s return but also hiding something from him. It seems that in paying for his schooling the family had to make some hard decisions and Jaime feels responsible for the state his family is in.

Jaime represents the millions of Latinos that have gone through higher education to make a better life for their families and only come back to mediocre jobs. There are many lines that his sister, Milagro, played by Belissa Escobedo, that ring true about their situation but “We are invisible to those people” stuck out the most. With his prelaw degree, Jaime gets a job with his sister as the cleaning staff at the Kord’s mansion. We see that although Jaime has a degree he is just seen as the help, literally. There is a moment when Jaime introduces himself to a secretary and she pronounces his name without the accent multiple times, even after he corrects her.

Through a series of events, Jaime gets what is known as the Scarab and it chooses him to connect with. There are images of this moment in the trailer but seeing the full scene with his family is not only chaotic but hilarious. The hilarity comes from his Uncle Rudy, played by George Lopez. Rudy is that one uncle we all have that is a little too much at times. Rudy practically steals all of the scenes he is in and his quips to Jaime are reminiscent of how uncles tease their nephews.

One of the key themes of Blue Beetle is that of Family. Unlike the Fast & Furious movies, the family here is all blood-related and helps each other out. The Reyes family has gone through a lot in this country and we get a moment when Rudy tells us about all the jobs Jaime’s father did just to give his family a better life. Jaimee wants that for his family and felt that getting his degree would help them with that. It’s not the degree that is helping Jaime achieve this goal, it is his newfound powers with the Scarab. Like Guardians of the Galaxy: Volume 3, Blue Beetle will have you laughing one minute, crying the next, and then laughing again. The movie gives you some heartache to show you the resilience of the Reyes family and the Latino Culture.

ELPIDIA CARRILLO as Rocio, GEORGE LOPEZ as Uncle Rudy, XOLO MARIDUEÑA as Jaime Reyes, BELISSA ESCOBEDO as Milagro and DAMIAN ALCAZAR as Alberto in Warner Bros. Pictures’ action adventure “BLUE BEETLE,” a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

In the end, Blue Beetle is a fantastic origin story that does not feel repetitive and still feels fresh. We have seen many origin stories by now but this one is still a lot of fun to experience. Whereas in most origin stories the hero has to figure out their new life on their own, Jaime has his family to assist him and help him learn his new powers. This dynamic separates Blue Beetle from other superheroes and shows us where his true power comes from. There is a big final battle where we see all of the strengths of the family and these moments are a lot of fun to see.

The references throughout the movie to things that are pretty normal in Latino culture are great to see on the big screen. We get references to Vicks, Maria la del Barrio, and El Chapolin Colorado! My country of Guatemala is referenced a few times and the story of Carapax is one that I have heard about and will make for great conversations between those that are new to this kind of military takeovers. Just like Black Panther, Blue Beetle is going to show many young Latinos, that even we can be superheroes.

Final Thoughts: Blue Beetle is a fantastic origin story that feels new and fresh. While it feels geared to kids at times, it does get really serious and may make a tear or two shed from your eyes. There are a lot of Latino references throughout the movie that may go over the head of those new to the culture but the action and humor balance all of that out. Xolo Maridueña shone brightly in Cobra Kai and shines brighter as Jaime Reyes. There are two after-credit scenes: one that’s integral to the story and one that will bring back some memories to the older fans in attendance.

Kid-Friendly: Blue Beetle is similar to Spider-Man: Homecoming in regards to who the audience it is made for. There are some curse words said but they are mainly said in Spanish with English subtitles. There are some jokes about erections that may go over the heads of some kids. The backstory of Carapax may bring up some conversations about foreign militaries taking resources that are not theirs by any means necessary and the natives of the land becoming collateral damage.

Violence: There are some fights between Blue Beetle and Carapax that are pretty brutal. There is a sequence with the big Beetle ship stepping on soldiers that is a little gross.

Recent college grad Jaime Reyes 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 in the world, fate intervenes when Jaime unexpectedly 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, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the Super Hero BLUE BEETLE.

Starring alongside Maridueña (“Cobra Kai”) are Adriana Barraza (“Rambo: Last Blood,” “Thor”) as Jaime’s grandmother, Nana, Damían Alcázar (“Narcos,” “Narcos: Mexico”) as his father, Raoul Max Trujillo (the “Sicario” films, “Mayans M.C.”) as Carapax, with Oscar winner Susan Sarandon (“Monarch,” “Dead Man Walking”) as Victoria Kord, and George Lopez (the “Rio and “Smurf” franchises) as Jaime’s Uncle Rudy. The film also stars Elpidia Carrillo (“Mayans M.C.,” the “Predator” films) as his mother, Bruna Marquezine (“Maldivas,” “God Save the King”) as Jenny Kord, Belissa Escobedo (“American Horror Stories,” “Hocus Pocus 2”) as Jaime’s sister, Milagro, and Harvey Guillén (“What We Do in the Shadows”) as Dr. Sanchez.

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