It’s time for a new DC film, this time focusing on a hero not yet seen on the big screen – Blue Beetle. After a few chance occurrences, Jaime (Xolo Maridueña) is in possession of the scarab, which grants him all sorts of superpowers in the form of a suit which moulds itself to his body.
Blue Beetle comes at an interesting time for the DCEU, with the latest big screen hero possibly not being included in James Gunn’s and Peter Safran’s vision going forward. Time will tell what they choose to do with this character, but for now he’s Jaime, a freshly graduated young man living with his family on the outskirts of Palmera City. In this Latin American household are his sister who is the comedy relief, parents, his crazy uncle and grandmother. Jamie is ambitious and wants nothing more than to leave to make something of himself. The director Angel Manuel Soto has made a deliberate choice to amplify the family and cultural elements of this story, which feels like something new in the DCEU in that it’s done well. You feel the heart and importance of identity in Blue Beetle as the family become involved in much more than just the day to day.
Whilst Jaime is on the hunt for a job, he meets Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine) by chance and comes into possession of the scarab, which latches itself to him as he becomes the host of this alien military tech. It’s here where we get to see the suit in full force as it grows on Jaime and launches into him into space and across the city. There’s a horror inflection when it’s latching onto Jaime, which is genuinely well directed and, frankly, quite frightening.
From here, it’s a pretty straightforward by the numbers superhero film full of clichés which we’ve seen many times before. Fish out of water who becomes a hero, the villain with similar powers to the hero, a mysterious corporation, hidden family secrets, and more. However, the difference with Blue Beetle is how it uses cultural identity in its favour. There’s an importance of being Latin American and replicating the experience of being a family of immigrants. The film includes moments of racism that feel deliberate on the director’s part as he wants to show the everyday struggle of people of colour.
The plot revolves around the scarab itself and the evil CEO Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) desperately trying to retrieve it anyway she can so she can harness its powers. Sarandon is in full pantomime villian mode, clearly having a fun time playing the antagonist of the film. She has a right-hand man in the shape of the humongous Raoul Max Trujillo, who plays Conrad Carapax, he can only be described as the biggest henchman you will ever see. But an interesting character at the same time, he’s more than just a simple tough guy.
The film is also cut with an 80s themed score which will remind you of Stranger Things. The Haxan Cloak, aka Bobby Krlic, has crafted a feast for the ears which compliments the fun feel of the film perfectly.
This is a really fun entry into the current DCEU, which has family and cultural identity at the centre of the story. However it suffers from coming too late into the superhero game, the premise and its execution are for most part seen-it-all-before.