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‘Blue Beetle’ Is A Refreshingly Exciting Entry To The DC Universe – Review

*This review was published during the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. At GoC, we fully support the creatives who are part of the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes.

(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

The DCEU has gone through many shifts over the last decade, and I honestly don’t know where we stand on what universe we are heading into or what characters we may still see. Angel Manuel Soto’s Blue Beetle has come to rescue the superhero genre slump with a refreshing, hilarious and heartfelt origin story for our first live-action Latino superhero (in a lead role).

Blue Beetle follows a college graduate, Xolo Maridueña’s Jaime Reyes, who comes back home to Palmera City and discovers that his town is being gentrified by Kord Industries, Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) and her family’s tech firm that is working on brand new, world-altering weaponry. His family lost their business and is being pushed out by the corporation. Trying to save his family home, he attempts to get a job. That’s when he meets Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine), and this encounter alters his world.

The family ensemble for this film, with his warm parents Rocio (Elpidia Carrillo) and Alberto (Damián Alcázar), hilarious sister Milagros (Belissa Escobedo), caring Nana (Adriana Barraza), and unforgettable Uncle Rudy (George Lopez) could not have been more perfect. Their chemistry is so palpable. All of their personalities shine throughout the film, and I felt like they were my own family as I watched them interact. Their dynamic grounds his superhero evolution, supporting him in taking the mantle.

(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

The heart these relationships bring to the film elevates every aspect – they aren’t utilized just as throwaway characters for our hero to learn life lessons; they are his rock. The power he wields is guided by his family; they’re just as much part of the action as he is. This unexpected shift highlights how there’s no power greater than being uplifted by the ones we love. Not only will audiences adore this new character, but they’ll feel that way toward the entire ensemble.

Blue Beetle hits everything we could want in a comic book adaptation and easily surpassed my expectations! As Jaime is unexpectedly burdened with this power, it’s genuinely shocking. The way Soto directs how the scarab affects Jaime is some of the best body horror work I’ve seen in a superhero film! The humor works exceptionally well; rarely does it fall flat. I feel as though a lot of movies have taken the MCU approach of squeezing in far too many jokes to their detriment.

Blue Beetle allows us time to breathe and feel the weight of specific moments rather than cutting it short with a cheap quip. The high-octane energy stays consistent throughout all of the action; it never fails to keep us engaged. This, paired with authentic humor and an unwavering heart, takes us on a fun, refreshing ride.

(Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures)

We have to take a moment to talk about how this is the first Latino superhero brought to the big screen! This film breathes Mexican-American excellence (I laughed out loud the second I heard the La Chona needle drop- 10/10). The film’s themes parallel the persistence and sincere experience of the community. No matter how many times they are beaten down by someone seemingly more powerful than them, they get right back up. Their value to the place they’ve called home and their community stays steady even in the presence of a villain trying to take it all away. Even if everything is taken away, their love for each other will always stand firm. I hope studios begin to take note – these are stories we want to see. According to the Motion Picture Association of America, Latin visibility in entertainment is embarrassingly low, even though we make up about 19% of the United States population and Hispanic and Latino Americans make up the highest per-capita theater attendance of all ethnicities.

Blue Beetle is not without its faults, as it can fall into some tired tropes here and there. Still, the ensemble’s palpable familial chemistry, refreshing direction, and powerful story elevate this beyond our usual popcorn superhero flick. It’s full of charm and rich with vastly underrepresented culture onscreen. It’s a celebration of a film I’m excited to experience in a theater again. Angel Manuel Soto, screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, and everyone who touched this film deserve a round of applause. I highly recommend seeing this one in a theater!

Rating: 7.5/10

Blue Beetle opened in theaters on August 18.

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