Blue Beetle (the film) has a lot in common with Blue Beetle (the hero), as both are placed in a seemingly unwinnable situation by factors beyond their control. The hero is dealing with gentrification and an economic downturn impacting his family, while the film arrives when DC is in turmoil. Yet Blue Beetle is so earnest and heartfelt that, like the scrappy hero, it ends up winning you over, and you can’t help but root for it to succeed.
15 years since Iron Man redefined the comic book movie, the “superhero origin story” has become a matter of paint-by-numbers. From the first flight sequence to a pep talk by a father figure and ending with a climatic battle against an evil version of the hero that’s part physical and part philosophical, Blue Beetle offers nothing new to the superhero genre. That’s not a bad thing because what the film does differently is it brings a sense of fun to being a superhero that hasn’t been seen since Spider-Man.
Blue Beetle is so earnest and heartfelt that, like the scrappy hero, it ends up winning you over, and you can’t help but root for it to succeed.
Following Jamie Reyes (played by Cobra Kai star Xolo Mariduena) as he comes home from college, we’re immediately introduced to the entire Reyes family as it’s explained that Palmera City, Texas, is being rapidly gentrified by Kord Industries. The family, highlighted by George Lopez and an amazing mullet as his Uncle Rudy, becomes the center around which all of the ensuing super heroics rotate, and in a remarkable change for the DC franchise, they all love and support one another.
Over the next thirty minutes, we also meet Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon doing her best Lex Luthor by way of Gene Hackman), Carapax (Raul Max Trujillo), and Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine). The Kord name should be ringing a bell for DC comic fans, and don’t worry, Blue Beetle does the thing, but before the film gets there, it hammers home the theme of family with all the subtly of Martha Wayne’s pearls hitting the pavement in slow motion.
By the time Jamie is accidentally bonded with the alien scarab at the root of Kord’s plans for the future, Blue Beetle kicks into second gear, and it’s off to the races, from diving into the origins of the scarab (which, yes, brings the classic Ted Kord Beetle costume into live-action for the first time) to introducing OMAC (One Man Army Corps, sadly without the glorious mohawk).
Everything Blue Beetle does, we have seen before, and it carries the DNA of Iron Man through every single scene, but that’s a good thing. If there’s a superhero movie to pull from, it’d better be one of the very best and not, say, any DC movie made since Man of Steel. The closest comparison from DC is Shazam, which almost feels like an afterthought given how grimdark the rest of the franchise became over the last decade.
Blue Beetle is a by-the-number superhero origin movie that’s the best DC film since Wonder Woman by embracing everything fun about being a hero.
Blue Beetle is colorful; even if most scenes take place at night, it makes the hero’s neon armor stand out, and it’s also fun with the best 80s music needle drops since Guardians of the Galaxy.
In fact, the biggest issue with Blue Beetle has nothing to do with the perfectly serviceable superhero origin movie that it is and everything to do with the current state of DC under the stewardship of Warner Bros Discovery. Under the new Co-CEOs, James Gunn and Peter Safran, DC is being completely overhauled with a new focus and fresh faces.
Blue Beetle, in a mid-credit stinger, upholds superhero tradition by teasing a future movie, and it might not be Blue Beetle 2. There’s nothing tying the film to the Zach Snyder-era of DC, but by bringing Ted Kord into the DC Universe, there is something tying it to an announced series: Booster Gold. All of which is to say, for fans of DC Comics, it’s worth hoping that the joy and exuberance of Jamie Reyes influence the rest of the franchise’s future movies.
Blue Beetle (the film) and Blue Beetle (the hero) represent the best of the DC Universe, and are, hopefully, a sign of great things to come
If you skipped Shazam: Fury of the Gods and The Flash, but want a superhero movie that reminds everyone why we all fell in love with these characters in the first place, watch Blue Beetle. Not every film has to push the envelope, and it’s fine for one to take what worked already and execute it well.
Superhero fatigue is going to drag down Blue Beetle at the box office, but if this exact movie came out after Aquaman and Wonder Woman, it would be a blockbuster. Blue Beetle (the film) and Blue Beetle (the hero) represent the best of the DC universe and are, hopefully, a sign of great things to come.