This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. Without the labour of the writers and actors currently on strike, the movie/series/feature being covered here wouldn't exist.
"Blue Beetle is a solidly entertaining superhero origin that certainly arrives with potential for the character."
BY JACK RANSOM AUGUST 18, 2023
DC’s third live action outing to hit the big screen this year. Blue Beetle sees an alien scarab choose college graduate Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) to be its symbiotic host, bestowing the teenager with a suit of armor that's capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the superhero known as Blue Beetle.
Quite honestly DC’s cinematic output has been in an utter state of disarray for about 10 years now. From top tier flicks (The Batman, The Suicide Squad), media outrages (Joker, Zack Snyder’s Justice League), Aquaman’s solo outing crossing $1 billion worldwide, countless reshoots, reworked scripts, scrapped plans and just this year The Flash resurrecting Michael Keaton’s Batman. According to new studio head James Gunn, allegedly Blue Beetle is the first new DCU character, despite initially being announced during the DCEU. Definitely not confusing for a general audience!
Anyway, the first element the film has going for it is its refreshingly small scale and commitment to its family centric story, rather than huge multiversal stakes (of which are beginning to become a little stale). Jamie’s family are integral to the narrative and get a substantial amount of screen time devotion, not only to help is character growth, but also each others. It’s a charming and unique dynamic in which is admittedly an extremely familiar superhero origin story, that will have you pretty much ticking off the boxes along the way, (think an amalgamation of Iron Man, Spider-Man & Shazam!), that wouldn’t have hurt arriving about 15 years ago to standout from the pack.
The action is solid, but like the narrative beats you will have seen it all before. The CGI smackdown finale delivers turn your brain off explosivity: with the Reyes family blasting into retro goofy chaos in a Beetle ship and the double B’s slick takedown of goons-a-plenty accompanied by a Cypress Hill needle drop put a big fat grin on my face. Production-wise you do get a slight ‘HBO Max Original’ vibe (especially with some patchy green screen and CGI), however the practical Blue Beetle suit looks excellent and Jaime’s transformation sequence straight into a barrage of learning on the fly (quite literally) and shooting him up into orbit is a blast.
Maridueña is a whirlwind of enthusiasm and energy. He clearly loves playing the character and captures the bumbling, family driven, good spirited youthful hero vibe and he and Bruna Marquezine have good chemistry. His family have a great bond, some of the humour attempts do get a little much at points, however it’s George Lopez’ Uncle Rudy Reyes that steals the show here in the comedic department. I appreciated the attempt at humanising and adding depth to the heavy brawler antagonist Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo), however Susan Sarandon’s evil tech billionaire businesswoman is aggressively lame.
Blue Beetle is a solidly entertaining superhero origin that certainly arrives with potential for the character. It may be filled to the brim with predictable narrative beats and suffer from a lacklustre villain, however its family centric storyline, bursts of creative comic book shenanigans and brisk pacing make it worth a viewing.