BLUE BEETLE (2023)
Release Date: 08/18/23 [Cinemas]
Genre: Action. Adventure. SciFi.
Studio: Warner Bros.
"An alien scarab chooses Jaime Reyes to be its symbiotic host, bestowing the recent college graduate with a suit of armor that's capable of extraordinary powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the superhero known as Blue Beetle."
OUR MOVIE REVIEW:
In a cultural landscape where we’ve seen Batman want to kill Superman, Iron Man trade blows with Captain America, and a hodge-podge of memorable faces face off against a less-memorable army of henchmen in near half-billion dollar blockbusters, it’s understandable why Blue Beetle, in the eyes of the public, seemingly lives on the wayside. It’s understandable, even, why some scoff at the idea of watching Blue Beetle based on the promotional material and the general consensus constantly reiterating the phrases “Does nothing new” or “Doesn’t reinvent the wheel.” And though I’m not here to tell you they’re wrong, I am here to tell you Blue Beetle is worth the price of admission.
Yes, you’ve seen this plot before, and if I had a nickel for every comic book movie released this month that had our heroes in a milking machine during their lowest point so the villain can create a superpowered army, I’d have two nickels. HOWEVER, if I had a nickel for every comic book movie that was made with genuine love for the characters instead of feeling like corporate content, I wouldn’t have many nickels. Thankfully, Blue Beetle supports that fund.
I’ve been a fan of Jaime Reyes as Blue Beetle for a while now, comic book-wise. (Sorry, Ted Kord fans, but you may get your moment soon!) The unfortunate part of being a Jaime Reyes fan is that none of his comics sell very well because almost none of them are all that great, leading to cancellations and a pile of unfinished stories. This movie, though, changes that plus understands the story potential of this character.
Between its strong script, cast, and editing, the bones of Blue Beetle manage to carry the weight the unfortunate low-production value some segments give off. Its budget is only $100 million, which, compared to other superhero films, almost feels like this one was set up to fail as the budget hasn’t reportedly increased after the release plans changed from HBO Max (now Max) to theatrical. It could have benefitted from either reshoots, more time in the oven, or even a bigger budget in general. Though I think the visual effects look well-done and are utilized well, the visuals are at its best when it leans into practical effects and costumes as much as possible.
All the negatives, really, are with its visuals and any gripe I have with the story are merely nitpicking. Xolo Mariduena’s portrayal of Jaime Reyes is easy to engage with and follow along empathetically and the supporting cast work hard to be at the same level. Never once does it feel like one actor is there to outshine someone else, incorporating, whether intentional or not, the core theme of family in Blue Beetle. I’m almost willing to call this a comfort-food superhero flick because, much like the Reyes household, watching Blue Beetle almost feels like home.
I think part of the reason why it feels like home, for me, is that Blue Beetle shows us why I love superhero stories in the first place. There’s a little bit of spectacle, a little bit of fun, but, gluing it all together, is a story about someone we can relate to on an emotional level doing their best to do what’s right. We can believe all we want about how superheroes would truly be in the real world, how power corrupts any one of us that wields it, but with heroes like Blue Beetle, we can also be shown what good people are capable of. It shows us that power doesn’t corrupt, it reveals what’s been there all along.
Blue Beetle knows this. And if the rest of the DC movies moving forward do as well, I’m in full support of it.