Warner Bros. is reportedly deep in negotiations with Cobra Kai actor Xolo Maridueña to bring one of the more obscure DC Comics superheroes, Blue Beetle, to life. With all eyes on the highly anticipated release of James Gunn’s Suicide Squad film, which will see a slew of lesser-known but equally fun DC Comics characters come to HBO Max, The Hollywood Reporter revealed that Maridueña is the likely choice for an upcoming, standalone movie about Blue Beetle. Charm City Kings helmer Angel Manuel Soto was tapped earlier this year to direct. Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, best known for Miss Bala and the upcoming Scarface reboot, is penning the script.
If the role of Blue Beetle goes to Maridueña, he will officially become the first Latino superhero to headline his very own movie or TV show within the DC Extended Universe. It’s worth noting, however, that he will not be the first Latino person introduced as a canonical character in DC’s live-action comic book films. Jay Hernandez portrayed El Diablo in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad in 2016 while Rosie Perez brought detective Renee Montoya to life in Birds of Prey.
TheWrap reports that the Blue Beetle movie will be based on the third person to take up the hero’s mantle. The superhero was created in 1939 by Charles Wojtkowski as the alter ego of Dan Garrett, a police officer who uses experimental vitamins to gain superpowers. He was printed by the now-defunct Fox Comics before Charlton Comics took over the property in the 1950s. Garrett was then reimagined as an archaeologist who gets his powers from an ancient Egyptian scarab. By the 1960s, Ted Kord was introduced as an athlete and inventor who managed to get his hands on the powers and take over for Garrett.
The outlet reports that Charlton went out of business in the 1980s, bringing all its characters over to DC Comics, which finally gave Blue Beetle more mainstream appeal by way of the Crisis on Infinite Earths plotline.
Xolo Maridueña, however, will play Jaime Reyes, who was introduced in 2006 as a new generation to take over for Kord and the first to be born fully within the DC Comics ecosystem. Reyes is just a working-class teenager living in El Paso, Texas. One day, he discovers an ancient Egyptian artifact and takes it home out of mere curiosity. However, when it bestows the powers of the Blue Beetle on him, he finds himself thrust into a world of heroes, villains, and titans.
According to DC Comics, Reyes’ Blue Beetle’s powers are discovered to be alien in nature. The artifact allows him to create a suit of armor around himself that enhances his athletic abilities as well as allows him to create weapons and shields at will.
ComicBook notes that after a less-than-stellar attempt to bring its biggest characters into a connected universe with Justice League and the standalone movies that surround it, the company is hoping to use HBO Max as a way to mine content out of lesser-known heroes that it now owns. For whatever reason, it’s starting with Blue Beetle, which is expected to go into production in 2022.
Warner Bros. Picture Group Chair Toby Emmerich previously said that he sees the back catalog of DC Comics heroes and Blue Beetle to be a “huge opportunity” that will allow them to introduce fans to lesser-known characters, but give them all the big-budget resources to make viewers fall in love with them on the HBO Max streaming platform.