Xolo Maridueña and Angel Manuel Soto Talk ‘Blue Beetle’, Moving From HBO Max to Theatrical & Comic Inspirations – Trailer Reveal Q&A
The Blue Beetle trailer has finally arrived, and we are here to talk about it!
Geeks of Color attended the thrilling trailer preview event for the upcoming Blue Beetle movie, featuring the talented Xolo Maridueña and visionary director Angel Manuel Soto.
The star-studded cast of Blue Beetle promises to deliver a thrilling cinematic experience, with Maridueña taking on the lead role of Jaime Reyes (a.k.a. Blue Beetle). The ensemble features an impressive lineup of talent, including Bruna Marquezine as Jenny, Belissa Escobedo as Milagros Reyes, and George Lopez as Rudy. The cast is further bolstered by the exceptional performances of Adriana Barraza as Nana, Elpidia Carrillo as Rocio, and Damián Alcázar as Alberto Reyes. Additionally, the iconic Susan Sarandon joins the team as Victoria Kord, while Raoul Trujillo steps into the formidable shoes of Carapax the Indestructible Man.
The film focuses on recent college grad Jaime Reyes returning 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 superhero Blue Beetle.
Following the trailer reveal, we had a fascinating Q&A session with Maridueña and Soto moderated by Tiffany Smith. They shared insights into the phenomenal cast, intricate production, comic inspiration, and the film’s powerful universal themes. They also talked about the process of filming going from HBO Max to theatrical and IMAX, as well as their hopes for a more inclusive future in cinema.
Check out highlights from the Blue Beetle trailer event with Xolo Maridueña & Angel Manuel Soto:
Soto started off the Q&A by talking about the authenticity of the cast and bringing the movie to life.
“One of the things we really wanted to do with the cast was to be as authentic as we could. We aimed to tap into three generations, almost like seeing the first immigrant family, then when they have children here. So, being able to tap into those three generations: Sharla, who was born here and is Mexican American, as Elisa; Belissa Escobedo as the sister; and then you have characters like George Lopez who plays the uncle, who’s been here for a while and is a national treasure; Elpidia Carrillo as the mom.
“I also really wanted to tap into what I consider the best actors from Mexico City, Adriana Barraza and Damián Alcázar. I wanted to bring in all the people I really respect from the movies I saw growing up in Mexico that inspired me to become a filmmaker. For me, as a director, the most satisfying thing is being able to create an authentic chemistry from a collective that feels like something I grew up with.”
Maridueña continued by talking about how this film is relatable to everyone and the journey Jaime and his family go through in this film as he becomes a hero.
“And, kind of, to his point about the family, something that we were just discussing, which is kind of funny, is that we see some of these other superheroes who are able to hide from their family the fact that they’re a superhero. But as you guys just saw in the trailer, his family is right there during that first transformation. The fact that they come through this journey together is something that, I think, we haven’t seen before in superhero movies, and that really is the beating heart of this movie.
“Although, you know, this was my first time being a superhero and stepping into a character like this, as you’ll see in the movie, it can’t happen without the family. That’s a theme that I think, whether or not you’re Latino, transcends ethnicity and the color of skin because that’s something we can all relate to. And I think that’s really been the most exciting part, is that although it is unapologetically Latino, everyone will understand Milagros and Jaime because they are people we’ve interacted with in our daily lives. And the problems they’re facing are problems we have experienced. There’ll be room for the second or third one to do the crazy alien stuff, but the stuff that you see in this movie is all very tangible and feels rooted in today’s world.
“Also, bringing Palmera City to the screen is fantastic in its own regard. The vision was to have Blue Beetle be on the same level as someone like Superman or Batman, who have Gotham or Metropolis – cities that are the beating hearts of the themes of the comics – and to create a world for Jaime where he feels he fits was really such a humbling and honoring experience as well.”
Smith then asked, “You chose to do this one in IMAX expanded aspect ratio when you were filming it; why? What led to that decision? And then why do you think that people should really see it in IMAX?“
“Because IMAX is the shit. It’s the immersive aspect of it. I try to be as immersive as I can with the projects that I do. And the scope of IMAX allows you to be swallowed whole into the frame. At least with my relationship with cinema, it’s very spiritual that way. So it almost feels like you can have a physical connection to it. In the same way that we try our best to bring the audience in and invite them to dance with the story and the characters, IMAX makes it feel like you’re dancing with your partner. You could be in a ballroom with people, but when you’re dancing with your partner, it feels like you’re dancing with just them alone in the room by yourself. That’s what it feels like to me.
“They did such an amazing job with that suit, being able to just capture the enhancements with the VFX in the way that it’s integrated; it really works. And also, I’m from Puerto Rico, and being able to see something that feels like home – and I say Puerto Rico, but I’m part of a bigger community – as well as being able to see our community represented, not just as cliches but as heroes for once. What better way than to see it on the biggest screen possible?”
During the discussion, Soto was asked, “This film was originally going to be made for HBO Max, which was not the big screen experience. Can you talk about how the movie ended up going the theatrical route and the kind of changes that went with it? Can you talk about how the movie ended up going the theatrical route and the kind of changes that went with it?”
“That is true, at the beginning of it, and once we started diving into the script and creating concept art, it sort of allowed me to run free with my creativity. Unbeknownst to them and to me, I guess what they were able to see was the promise of how we pictured Palmera City, how we really wanted the suit to be, and how, in the bigger realm of this cultural zeitgeist, the impact that this can have, culturally, but also in the superhero genre, just to try something different. We hope people can see it for what it is – with a lot of love and a lot of heart. This studio felt like it had the potential to be theatrical.
“The stories we’re telling, the topics we’re touching upon – even though it’s very grounded – we were picturing this as almost like the first act of a big saga. We really wanted to make the things that sometimes appear to be small due to a clouding of privilege actually be seen as worse than an alien invasion for some people. So, how can we translate that into a movie where a superhero can actually be a superhero? It doesn’t really have to be about saving the planet from a fake invasion, but it’s actually something relatable, which for some of us is bigger than life. I think the studio saw the potential there, and they were like, ‘THEATERS!'”
“Jaime came in, I believe, 2006. So I’m just really curious how much of the lore in this film is basically from Jaime’s run. And is there going to be stuff from earlier versions that you’ve sort of given him a spin on?“
Soto: “The New 52 was a big inspiration, especially as far as the suit and other aspects of the story go. There was a lot of great stuff in all the different runs, and we were like, “Man, how do you choose just one? Let’s do whatever we want with it, have fun, and create something awesome and really interesting that takes the greatest hits.” Even from the Injustice 2 game, we really took a deep dive because it’s amazing.
“There are so many great things, from Infinite Crisis to the new one, Graduation Day, which actually borrowed a lot from what we did in the movie. Superman has Metropolis, Flash has Central City, so why doesn’t Jaime have his own city? He’s incredible. That doesn’t mean that El Paso isn’t great – El Paso is awesome and very much present in the life of the family. But in order to position Blue Beetle as a potential leader in the DCU, Palmera City came to life. Thanks to Palmera City, as well as the bigger world-building around it, that’s what got us the theatrical release.”
To end the Q&A, the duo were asked, “What Latino superheroes do you want to see? Are we going to see the Green Lantern aspect, or bring Jessica Cruz into that because of the history between the Blue Beetles and Green Lanterns?”
Soto: “My answer is going to be: yes. That’s all I can say.
“If you all help us and this movie becomes a massive hit, we’re going to see a lot more like it. That’s what needs to happen. People will want to see more variety, celebrate differences, celebrate culture, and explore other worlds because it’s fun. These worlds are so spectacular. The only way to achieve this is by supporting movies, especially a movie like this. This isn’t about me, and it isn’t about Xolo. What I care about is opening doors.”