Blue Beetle: A DC Origin Story That Truly Takes Flight

Sommerleigh Pollonais, Senior Writer

Plot: An alien scarab chooses college graduate Jaime Reyes to be its symbiotic host, bestowing the teenager with a suit of armour that’s capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the superhero known as Blue Beetle.

Review: I’m not going to waste any time here and just get right to it. I think Blue Beetle is one of the best DC live action movies to date. Does it reinvent the wheel? No, it doesn’t, but what this movie did do was make me actually feel something and I can honestly say the last time I truly felt emotionally invested in a DC movie was way back in 2017 with Wonder Woman.

When you’ve struck first, hard and with no mercy, and the bad guy still gets back up

Jamie Reyes (Xolo Maridueña from Cobra Kai) is fresh out of law school but with no firms willing to hire him because he doesn’t have “experience” (you know, the thing you need a job to get!). He heads back home to his loving family consisting of younger sassy sister Milagro (Belissa Escobedo) loving Dad and Mom Alberto and Rocio (Damian Alcazar and Elpidia Carrillo), crazy smart and hilarious uncle Rudy (comedian George Lopez) and still-waters-run-deep abuela, Nana (Adriana Barraza). A tight and loving unit, the family is in danger of losing their home, but Jamie gets an opportunity to help them when he goes to work for Kord Industries only to end up the unwitting accomplice to a “robbery” when Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine), the daughter of missing C.E.O. Ted Kord, steals a powerful artifact from her aunt, the power-hungry Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon). The artifact turns out to be an alien scarab capable of bestowing amazing powers when it bonds with its chosen host, in this case the very reluctant Jamie Reyes.

While I agree there’s nothing on paper that makes the above stand out as anything we haven’t seen before, there is a way to take something old and make it feel new again. This is ever present in the world of superheroes where most early iterations of characters like the Blue Beetle were predominantly Caucasian. For the non-comic readers out there the first Beetle was Dan Garrett premiering all the way back in 1939. He was succeeded by Ted Kord who premiered in 1966 and, like Dan and most of the early Justice League lineup, he was a white dude. Fast forward to young readers (from all walks of life) becoming artists and writers for the same comics they grew up loving, we start to see more representation as well and in 2007 Mexican American teenager Jamie Reyes becomes the present-day Blue Beetle most fans of the comics are familiar with.

When your family tells you they got you a car for graduating, and it’s a Matchbox car

Why do I bring any of this up? Well, representation needs to go beyond the surface and like Miles Morales from the Spider-Verse movies I think they did not just a great job of creating (not just introducing) a Latino character but also giving us a compelling look at what life is like for an immigrant family, in this case Mexican, living in America. This is unlike anything we’ve seen with a DC character before which made Blue Beetle stand out in a unique and refreshing way. The entire family is also involved in the story and not just used as tropes to move things along. Much of the movie explores the hardships they endure (and have endured) in their journey for a better life but none of it felt like they were pandering to audiences. Instead we see how their strength love and support would shape someone like Jamie Reyes into becoming a hero worthy of so much power and I’m all for it.

Thank goodness they took the time to do this because the rest of the movie does fall into the standard cliches we’ve come to expect from a superhero movie. The main villain Victoria is all about power and money, the mini-boss Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo) is a mirror-verse version of Blue Beetle and there a tons of faceless goons collecting ass-whoppings left and right. All of which will leave most saying “been there, done that” so I’m sure there are people who’ll walk away feeling like this was just another DC movie for the books. But while I can admit to all that, they also took those well-worn tropes and gave them polish by adding real heart to all of it.

I am like you, amigo. Only mejor

The showdown with Carapax for instance gave us one of the most compelling reasons for why a hero shouldn’t be too quick to take a life. And the scene where the Reyes house is attacked was genuinely gut-wrenching to watch. The gorgeous special effects and sharp directing by Angel Manuel Soto also made it easy to see everything that was happening, and a tight runtime of 127 minutes meant this movie never overstayed its welcome. They also did a solid job of laying the groundwork for a sequel without it feeling forced. All of which is to say Blue Beetle made me hopeful for the next phase of the DCU.

So, Blue Beetle might not be the best of the world of superhero movies but it’s an origin story and these tend to be some of the weakest the genre has to offer. A basic villain, a lack of romantic chemistry between the love interest (Jamie and Jenny) and some of the culturally specific references did go over my head. But none of these choices overshadow the overall entertainment factor of this film. Choosing to make the entire family a part of the main story was a daring choice that ultimately paid off in a way Shazam: Fury of the Gods tried and failed to do. And while it may not be the DC movie, it’s definitely a step in the right direction.

Sommer’s Score: 8 out of 10

You can check out my video review on Blue Beetle below:

And you can check out more DC live action content below:


Sommerleigh of the House Pollonais. First of Her Name. Sushi Lover, Queen of Horror Movies, Comic Books and Binge-Watching Netflix. Mother of two beautiful black cats named Vader and Kylo. I think eating Popcorn at the movies should be mandatory, PS4 makes the best games ever, and I’ll be talking about movies until the zombie apocalypse comes. Double Tap Baby! Read More

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