Released: September 14, 2023
Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Starring: Xolo Maridueña, Bruna Marquenzie, Susan Sarandon, George Lopez
After a few pretty big misfires recently DC finally looks like they’ve got their shit together just in time for their brand new connected universe. See, Blue Beetle is the first film in the DCU (DC Universe). For the uninitiated, the old universe was called the DCEU and included films like Man of Steel, Aquaman, Wonder Woman, and The Flash. That universe is now completely done with, except for maybe Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom which comes out in December or something… probably. Anyway, whatever, this film isn’t connected to any of the DC movies you might have seen lately and is probably connected to some you will see soon. Got it?
Blue Beetle tells the story of idealistic twenty-something Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) who returns home from graduating college to find his home life a mess. His family home is about to be lost, his family’s business is gone, his father has recently suffered a heart attack, and his city is being gentrified by Kord Industries. Amid this Jaime has a run-in with Kord Industries CEO, Victoria Kord (Sarandon) and her niece Jenny (Marquezine) which results in him coming into possession of an alien scarab that gives him incredible superpowers. Unfortunately, Kord is chasing the alien scarab to create an army of super soldiers (in the form of a private police force) and they will stop at almost nothing to get it, including coming after Jaime and his family.
As far as superhero films go it’s pretty formulaic. On paper, it’s the love child of Iron Man and Spider-Man. But that’s actually fine. Because what makes a movie great isn’t its bare bones but the heart and soul of it all, and Blue Beetle has plenty of heart. Jaime’s family and the importance of his relationship with them really help to ground the film. It’s so much easier to care about all the CGI madness when there’s something tangible at stake and this is a film that really seems to understand that. Director Angel Manuel Soto has taken something that could have been fairly pedestrian and it made it into something brimming with life and style.
Speaking of that, the CGI and action don’t always work but there’s also a fair bit that does. Some of the fight choreography is pretty damn cool and is aided immensely by some real actual stunt work – likely some of which is done by Maridueña himself who may have picked up a few tricks during his terrific run in Cobra Kai. Whatever the case is, there are a few moments where Blue Beetle looks damn cool and given where comic book films are at right now that’s a big win.
This is a film that aims itself mostly at teens and tweens demographic but isn’t afraid to dabble in real-world issues. It’s a fun movie but it treats the world it takes place in seriously. There’s the occasional darkness the film flirts with that is downright unsettling because of its real-world parallels, but then again it’s also almost relentlessly positive and silly. It’s a weird mix but it works.
And despite being aimed at a younger audience there’s still plenty of jokes for adults to make it a pretty fun time for everyone (not to mention some pretty fun movie references for those paying attention). WorST case you get to see George Lopez having the time of his life and that is worth the price of admission alone.
Blue Beetle isn’t reinventing cinema but it’s a hell of a lot of fun, and watching kids coming out of it talking about how much fun they had is all the proof I need to know that it works.
Film review by Dave Mullins
Blue Beetle is out in cinemas now.
Grab your tickets online via Warner Bros.