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Blue Beetle Is A Fun But Formulaic Family-Friendly Superhero Origin Movie
The third DC movie in 2023 is Blue Beetle and it’s finally a character who isn’t connected to the DC Trinity in any way (the last one like that was 2019’s Shazam!). This isn’t Blue Beetle’s first-ever live-action appearance (unfortunately, that honour went to the Smallville TV series) but it is his first-ever big-budget movie. Thankfully, the Blue Beetle movie is a fun family-focused action flick that serves as a decent introduction to the character, whose historical roots actually go all the way back to 1939 (yes, Blue Beetle is almost as old as Superman).
In the movie, Xolo Mariduena gives a great portrayal of Jaime Reyes AKA Blue Beetle himself. I knew he had potential (from watching him as Miguel in the Netflix Cobra Kai series) and this role proves that he has the charismatic chops to be a lead actor in a movie. His performance is complemented by the rest of the supporting characters who are his family members in the movie. The Latinx culture and their unique family dynamics are well-represented in this movie, and that distinguishes it from other generic family-oriented superhero movies. That being said, it’s also the Reyes family members who fall into the ‘convenient plot devices’ issue of the movie, which is where the movie sort of gets a light-hearted Spy Kids-like vibe that might be divisive.
The biggest highlight of the movie is Blue Beetle himself in action. The CGI for the suit and effects look amazing, especially for a movie that was slated to be a streaming exclusive at one point in the past. Comics fans will love how comic-accurate this depiction of Blue Beetle is in terms of how he moves and uses his powers. I also won’t lie, it looks awesome. If there’s one thing that the DCEU has consistently done better than the MCU, that’s the live-action design of superhero costumes. The best thing about this particular version of Blue Beetle in the comics has always been how versatile his alien armour is, similar to how Marvel’s symbiotes work, and we see a lot of that in the movie. It’s more than just an Iron Man-like suit that flies and shoots lasers, so I’m happy to see that.
The biggest problem with Blue Beetle is that it feels a bit too formulaic, following a lot of the same beats and tropes of superhero movies from the early 2000s. It also features many convenient plot devices that don’t make too much sense. As a comic book fan, I also dislike how the movie glosses over the Blue Beetle legacy (and disrespects it by adding unnecessary characters like Victoria Kord and Jenny Kord) and how it uses the name of a prominent DC Comics character (a Jack Kirby creation) as a placeholder for one of its main antagonists (sadly, I can’t spoil who it is).
One of the weakest aspects of the movie is its villains, who are not only forgettable but also follow the same old ‘powers must mirror the hero’ trope (like General Zod and Superman, Iron Man and Iron Monger, Ant-Man and Yellowjacket, etc.). Susan Sarandon as Victoria Kord is bland and so is Raoul Max Trujillo as Conrad Carapax. I’m also sorry to disappoint Blue Beetle fans who are looking forward to a movie with more alien elements, but the movie doesn’t really explore all that. DC is probably saving all that for potential sequels but the movie doesn’t even mention the Reach once (comic fans will know what I mean).
Blue Beetle is a surprisingly enjoyable movie that a lot of families and younger viewers will be able to enjoy. It has its problems that comics fans and others will probably nitpick on but at the end of the day, Blue Beetle is a decent origin movie and introduction to a DC legacy character whose proper live-action debut has been long overdue (no, that horrible Smallville appearance doesn’t count).
P.S.: There are two post-credits scenes for Blue Beetle.
We attended an early screening of Blue Beetle courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures Malaysia. Blue Beetle is slated to premiere in Malaysian cinemas on 17 August 2023.
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