When was the last time you watched a good superhero origin film? Walking into Blue Beetle, I never really had any significant expectations given how in the dark I was about the character. 2 hours later, I can now consider myself a Jaime Reyes fan. Blue Beetle is exciting, emotional, brimming with personality, and a promising start to the new DC cinematic universe.
It’s been a while since a DC film has stuck to me for more than a couple of hours after the credits roll. Maybe it’s superhero fatigue or maybe it’s just that the stories being told in these comic book films are just not of the same quality anymore. Leading up to Blue Beetle, the extent of my knowledge about the character was only through his representation in Injustice 2. Now after watching the film, I can confidently say that I’m hoping to see more of him in the future.
The interesting thing about Blue Beetle is that it was originally going to be released straight into streaming with HBO Max. It wasn’t until some time later in production that they decided that it would be given its time to shine in theaters. Thank God they did so because experiencing Blue Beetle on a huge IMAX screen was a treat. There was laughing, cheering, and all the other things you would expect from an engaged and invested audience. Rightfully so. The movie just kicks ass.
Blue Beetle follows Jaime Reyes, a fresh college graduate who comes home to his family seeking to help out but ends up finding an ancient AI alien technology that will turn him into a superhero, whether he likes it or not. A huge part of what makes Jaime such a likable protagonist is because of Xolo Maridueña’s performance. He brings in so much heart and energy into the whole thing. Despite being a character that’s down on his luck, it doesn’t go down the typical pity party route. Instead, Xolo makes Jaime an incredibly endearing character that you just can’t help but root for. You can just tell that this is a role that means a lot to Xolo and the passion bleeds through in every scene he is at.
Bruna Marquezine’s Jenny Kord does feel a little underdeveloped but she was still a welcome presence. I feel like there’s more to her than what is being shown and I only hope that they get to further explore whatever that is in future projects.
More importantly, we have to talk about Jaime’s family—the emotional core of the entire film. The chemistry and character dynamics of each and every one was electrifying. George Lopez as the ever so eccentric Rudy Reyes alongside Adriana Barraza’s Nana steals the show as they seem to be having the most fun on set. The parents, especially the father, symbolize everything Jaime is fighting for with or without the suit. However, while Belissa Escobedo’s Milagro does have great banter as Jaime’s sister, she does have a tendency to get a bit too much with her pessimism. But nonetheless, the ensemble just bounces off of each other like a well-orchestrated volleyball match.
The film places Mexican American culture front and center, which is also where the script pulls in a lot of its humor and significant narrative elements. Despite being on the other side of the world, the cultural beats presented on screen shares some similarity with Pinoy culture, which I already know people will enjoy based on the fact that the premier audience I was with was eating it all up.
Jaime’s first transformation as the Blue Beetle is equal parts horrifying and fascinating. I’ll just go ahead and say it, Blue Beetle’s suit looks absolutely fantastic in the movie. In a time where a lot of costumes are just haphazardly CGI’d onto an actor, you can clearly see the design intent here to show the suit’s practicality. While special effect enhancements are inevitable and they are here, there’s just something more special about knowing that there’s a tangible suit on camera.
And yes, Inka Magnaye does voice the Scarab (or Khaji Da) for the Philippine release of Blue Beetle and she does a phenomenal job in doing so. It was fun to see how she balances adding her own personal touch to the role while also sounding as robotic as possible. Despite basically being an AI character, witnessing the growing bond between Jaime and Khaji Da felt genuine and real for the most part.
This is a superhero movie after all. So how’s the action? I’d call it similar to the way James Wann framed the action sequences in the first Aquaman movie. It felt free-flowing in its execution, showcasing impressive choreography with smooth camera movement. Blue Bettle’s constructs were just the cherries on top. It’s a spectacle without being too loud but it’s also simple without being too mundane. The filmmakers definitely struck a great balance between action and emotion in a lot of the sequences here.
The only real complaint I have with Blue Beetle is in the antagonists. To be fair, the script didn’t really give the actors enough material to work with. They just act as generic cannon fodder for our hero to punch his way through. There are also some very minor moments where the screen direction could’ve been a bit better to avoid any awkward line delivery and blocking between the actors.
That being said, Blue Beetle is really just a lot of fun to be had. Fantastic performances from a cast that works really well with each other combined with exhilarating action sequences. What else do you need from a comic book movie?