Blue Beetle (2023) by Angel Manuel Soto

Among the latest films of the “old” DC Universe, Blue Beetle suffers from too linear development and is not too concerned with creating credible storylines for its characters, most notably the protagonist: a movie that offers decently made entertainment. but in a way that would be quickly forgotten, which doesn’t line up with the direction (at least verbally) James Gunn and Peter Safran would like the remastered DC Universe to take.

Symbiote in blue

It is strange to see that already in 2023, films born under the auspices of a clear production strategy, included in what should have been a long-term plan and a continuity intended to be consolidated, are now becoming “orphans”. the same fundamentals and are doomed to a kind of limbo, especially in an industry that now seems to be increasingly dependent on the logic of franchising. Movies that are self-sufficient despite everything, perhaps re-worked in post-production to minimize their impact on a universe that is about to be given a giant reboot. There was a case recently Black Adams and especially) Flash; and now this is happening blue beetle, a movie comic that was supposed to introduce its first Hispanic superhero to the DC world, a transposition of the “second level” character from American House comics. At the moment, it is not known whether the film will be released by Angel Manuel Soto, the director who announced himself in 2020 at the independent cinema. Charming kings of the city – will somehow be (re)introduced into the continuity of the remastered DC Universe, which will officially launch in 2025. Superman: Legacy: what seems obvious is that the film, born in this kind of “golden mean” between two phases of a hugely troubled media franchise, tried, as far as possible, to remain self-sufficient (apart from the post-credits scenes) by going on its own. legs without blocking the path to possible continuations.

Two “fatal” meetings

Blue beetle, Xolo Mariduegna pictured
Blue Beetle, Xolo Maridueña in a movie photo

Inspired by the latest incarnation of the Blue Beetle character, a DC Comics “modern age” character revealed in 2006, the film centers on the character of a young man of Mexican descent. Jaime Reyes: A boy who has just graduated from high school returns to his hometown of Palmera City, reuniting with a family that is now in severe economic difficulty and will soon be forced to leave the neighborhood where Jaime himself grew up. Accidentally touched Jenny Kord, the rebellious nephew of the unscrupulous businesswoman Victoria Kord – dedicated to the production of weapons and private security – the boy receives a strange artifact from his hands: it is a Scarab, a symbiont of alien origin, capable of merging its body with a human host, providing the latter with a very powerful exoskeleton and very modern weapons. “Chosen” by the symbiote, Jaime will transform into the powerful superhero Blue Beetle; but he and Jenny will have to deal with Victoria Kordwilling to do anything to get the Beetle back, at the cost of threatening the lives of Jenny, Jaime, and the boy’s family.

Linearity and inconsistencies

Blue Beetle, Xolo Maridueña in action, movie scene
Blue Beetle, Xolo Maridueña in action, movie scene

Originally intended for the streaming market (the original destination was to be the HBO Max platform). blue beetle the design and planning seem to devalue a bit in a minor key, as if the producers decided from the start to keep the character a minor role in the old DC Extended Universe; a role that will likely, in a universe redesigned by James Gunn and Peter Safran, now end up shrinking even further until it borders on irrelevance. References to the existence of Superman, Batman and company in the same narrative context of the film are random and not very important for the development of the story, but this is not the main problem: rather, at some point, the mention is made in the script for “another” Blue Beetle – let’s we will refrain from superfluous words, trying to avoid any spoilers – which would have operated four decades earlier and which the main character should have inherited; but the information is omitted almost casually, as if the presence of the superhero who became the champion of the city of Palmera (as stated in the dialogue) was secondary information. Narrative inconsistency, which is just one of many, in a script that on the one hand seems too linear and on the other has little interest in characterizing its characters (the protagonist in a primal form) beyond the bare necessities.

Humble origin story

Blue Beetle, Susan Sarandon and Harvey Guillen in a scene from the film
Blue Beetle, Susan Sarandon and Harvey Guillen in a scene from the film

More generally, Blue beetle is a film comic, already (unwittingly?) old in concept, that ends up reminiscent of some of the standalone superhero movies of the early 2000s and that doesn’t bother to build for its protagonist ( Xolo Mariduegna a little static) the storyline is worthy of this name. Essentially, the film is the origin story of a character we may never see on screen again (but we’re willing to be proven wrong), whose not-quite-irresistible appeal is exacerbated by choice – a sentient armor that is more often than not literally captured by her body – which is not conducive to the empathy and participation of the audience. We allow ourselves to be drawn into being right through a restrained rhythm and decent packaging, which also translates into a well-organized sequence of actions; but you do not get rid of the hint of fatigue that permeates the whole operation, which, moreover, spoils such an interpreter as Susan Sarandon in an overly one-dimensional role as a villain; a flat role in her lack of motives worthy of the name and in elementary contrast with the figure of a niece. An attempt to give depth to another villain of the plot (Carapax, performed by the sculptor). Raul Trujillo) looks as clumsy and slow and focused as he is only in the last part of the film. The theme of the family remains (in the case of the protagonist, a large family), is repeated and emphasized several times to such an extent that it becomes almost a mantra; but even here, in the modern American blockbuster, we basically do not encounter anything new (remember the Fast and the Furious saga). It’s from blue beetle it remains a one-time diversion that probably won’t leave much footprint in a franchise that – on paper at least – seems to aim at narratively and visually building a very different score.


Blue beetle, Italian movie poster.



Original name: blue beetle
Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Country/year: USA, Mexico / 2023
Type: Adventure, Sci-Fi, Action, Thriller
Throw: Adriana Barrasa, Susan Sarandon, Xolo Mariduegna, Elpidia Carrillo, Harvey Guillen, Becky G, Belissa Escobedo, Bridget Michelle Bentley, Bruna Marquezine, Damian Alcazar, Gabriella Ortiz, George Lopez, Jorge Jimenez, Cade Pittman, Lovell Gates, Marcus Nelson, Oshun Ramirez, Raul Max Trujillo, Walter J. Buck, Yuli Zorrilla
Screenplay: Gareth Dunnet-Alcoser
Photo: Pavel Pogozhelsky
Assembly: Craig Alpert
Music: Haksan cloak
Director: Zev Foreman, John Rickard, K.S. Hodenfield, Alice S. Kim
Production house: Warner Bros. Pictures Mexico, Warner Bros., The Safran Company, DC Entertainment


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Journalist and film critic. I am or have collaborated with various online and print publications including (in chronological order) L’Acchiappafilm, and Since 2018, I have been a consultant for the Stelle Diverse and Aspie Saturday Film psychoeducational reviews organized by the CuoreMenteLab center in Rome. In 2019, I founded the website Asbury Movies, of which I am the Editor and Managing Director.

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