DC Comic film, Blue Beetle was released on August 18th, 2023. The film highlights DC Comic character Jaime Reyes, initially introduced in 2006. 22-year-old actor Xolo Maridueña plays the role of Reyes along with Brazilian actress Bruna Marquezine as the female lead Jenny Kord. Featuring veteran and Academy Award-winning actress Susan Sarandon (Victoria Kord), and George Lopez in the role of Uncle Rudy, the film takes on the importance of family, loyalty, and perseverance which become key to the film’s takeaways. What makes Blue Beetle special is the historically underrepresented identity of Latinos in superhero comics. Not commonly seen on the big screen in such a blockbuster production, Latinos everywhere will surely be proud or shocked at seeing themselves represented on screen in such a non-stereotypical way.
Tracing back to its origins, Blue Beetle was first introduced in 1939 as the character Dan Garrett and then again in 1966 with character Ted Kord. Character Jaime Reyes is the third installment of the superhero but takes on a Mexican American identity. Directed by Puerto Rican producer and screenwriter Angel Manuel Soto, the film begins with Reyes celebrating his college graduation with his family in Palmera City, making the character relatable from the start. Finding it seemingly difficult to find a job post-graduation, Reyes finds work cleaning at Victoria Kord’s mansion alongside his sister Milagro Reyes (Belissa Escobedo). Soon he finds himself in an unfamiliar predicament when he defends Jenny Kord (Marquezine) against her aunt, Victoria Kord (Sarandon). The two women get into a heated discussion with threats verbalized by Victoria Kord, aunt to Jenny and sister to father Ted Kord, who is missing in the film but often referenced.
After a chance meeting between Reyes and Jenny Kord due to this family confrontation, Reyes finds himself out of work after he is fired by Victoria Kord for defending her niece. Jenny then soon invites Reyes to meet her at the Kord Tower to help find him a new job. The plot then gets accelerated as Reyes is given a box from Jenny which contains the scarab, an alien-like object which ultimately turns Reyes into the powerful Blue Beetle. After this pivotal moment the film goes full speed into the plot, with Reyes’s family at the core, including his father, mother, sister, grandmother, and Uncle Rudy. Unlike other typical superhero films, Blue Beetle offers a refreshing take as the family of Reyes becomes a central focal point to the plot.
The film offers a genuine look at the realities of life through family disloyalty, ambition, greed, and love combined with magical fantasy. Throughout the film, music of the likes from Los Tucanes De Tijuana, Calle 13, Thalia, Vicente Fernandez, Chalino Sanchez, and Los Panchos are played adding to the film’s authenticity in its Latino identity. Lead actor Xolo Maridueña exudes confidence along with charisma and his chemistry with Bruna Marquezine is on par. The plot does a great job of not exhibiting an overly typical love story between the two, as their attraction to each other remains subtle but highly visible. George Lopez is an added delight and, as one of the most recognizable Latino actors in Hollywood, brings charm and comedic banter into the plot. One scene between Reyes and his father, played by Mexican politician and actor Damian Alcáza, was particularly emotionally jarring. During the scene a dream sequence appears as Reyes loses his power and potentially his life only to be brought back by the encouragement and love from his father who has seemingly passed away earlier in the film. Exuding strong emotions appears to help Reyes battle evil, specifically against Victoria Kord and her physically dominating bodyguard Ignacio Carapax, played convincingly by actor Raoul Max Trujillo, who is a complete stand-out throughout the film.
Another stand-out in the entire film is the acting and characterization by Susan Sarandon. A veteran actress, she plays the role of the overly ambitious Victoria Kord in such an authentic and fascinating way. Sarandon brings an extremely eerie characterization as the head of Ford Industries who continues to defy her niece throughout. The only non-Latino actor to play a lead in the film besides Marquezine, is Sarandon, who brings her veteran acting experience complimenting the film’s battle of evil versus good in such a realistic fashion. Although the script could have benefited from finer dialogue in certain scenes and restricted some aspects of the family’s help in battling against Kord and Carapax towards the end, it does bring awareness to Latinos in film, breaking through stereotypical narratives that we often see. In highlighting Mexican American family values, the film also evokes excitement and has strong emotional qualities stronger than your average superhero film. The battles between Reyes and Carapax are mesmerizing, with colorful high special effect techniques, they leave you wanting more as the film concludes. As summer winds down, there is still time to catch this action-packed film while celebrating Latino contributions to the entertainment industry.
For more information on the film, click here, and check out your local theater for showings.