As the old DC Universe continues its death knell at the box office, Blue Beetle is a solid and fun intro to the character, even if it doesn’t do anything you haven’t really seen before in other superhero movies.
Cobra Kai’s Xolo Maridueña plays Jaime Reyes, who returns home to Palerma City after graduating from Gotham Law University. He finds that Kord Industries has been buying up property and pushing out the residents of his neighborhood, including his family who are losing their home and already lost the family auto shop. While working as cleaners at Victoria Kord’s (Susan Sarandon) mansion, Jaime intervenes in an argument between Victoria and her niece Jenny (Bruna Marquezine), which gets him and his sister Milagro (Belissa Escobedo) fired but ingratiates him with Jenny, who tells him to come to Kord Industries to possibly get a job there. When Jaime arrives at Kord, he inadvertently helps Jenny steal the “Scarab”, a powerful alien device that bonds with Jaime’s body after he and his family open the fast food box Jenny smuggled it out of Kord in. Bonded with the Scarab, Jaime is able to generate an indestructible exoskeleton with an unlimited arsenal but it makes he and his family a target of Victoria, who will do anything to possess the Scarab and use it to create an army of Kord weapons called OMACs. The plot of Blue Beetle is pretty standard superhero origin stuff, hitting beats that you’ve seen before not only in the DCEU but the MCU as well, and has very similar vibes to Iron Man and Spider-Man. There aren’t a lot of shocking twists or turns but what makes the movie still fun and not rote is the cast. Xolo Maridueña brings the same likable charm he brings to Cobra Kai and, like Miles Morales, is someone you can root for almost immediately. His family is also involved from the very beginning, which is a fun twist on the secret identity trope as Jaime doesn’t really have one. After witnessing Jaime’s horrifying transformation into the Blue Beetle, his family is involved every step of the way, especially his uncle Rudy (George Lopez). There’s a ton of humor and heart in the Reyes clan and the family dynamics elevate the more formulaic plot beats throughout the movie. There are also lots of fun hints about what came before with Ted Kord, who disappears sometime before this movie started but as the original Blue Beetle and some of his tech gets used in a great, fun way later on in the movie. Susan Sarandon also elevates what is a pretty standard “evil business” role by leaning into Victoria’s condescension and disdain for almost everyone around her and making her into a sort of Obidiah Stane as a Karen character.
In the comics, Blue Beetle is an incredibly interesting and entertaining character because of the abilities of the Scarab suit and its ability to manifest anything that Jaime can imagine. The movie does a decent job bringing that to live action but my main complaint is that a lot of the action takes place at night, which makes it hard to see all the creative weaponry that Jaime is utilizing. There are also long stretches between Blue Beetle sequences that make it seem like there were budgetary issues that prevented them from using it more but it had around the same budget as Shazam: Fury of the Gods. I also wish we got some more of the interplay between Jaime and Khaji-Da (Becky G), the entity that controls the Scarab. There’s some throughout the movie but it feels like there needed to be more of them learning to work together before the climax and, as such, it feels more abrupt when everything clicks for them. All the stuff with Ted Kord’s tech is great and the family teaming up for the climax with various Blue Beetle gadgets adds to the fun and brings some different energy to the fairly standard final battle between Jaime and the main villain, who is straight out the Iron Man school of evil version of the hero in armor.
Overall, Blue Beetle is fun and the cast is mostly great, which helps elevate a lot of the formulaic elements related to the plot and villains. I wish there was a bit more Blue Beetle action that was not shot in such dark locations so we can appreciate the creativity and fun of the Blue Beetle armor more but this is by far the best DC movie of the year, which is a shame that it will probably perform the worst against The Flash and Fury of the Gods. Hopefully, this isn’t the end for Jaime Reyes and he can find a way into James Gunn’s new universe in some form.
I’m like the J. Jonah Jameson of Everything Action, writing and editing and constantly demanding pictures of Spider-Man.