The more superhero movies release, the harder it is for each one to stand out. Warner Bros. Discovery has not had a great year when it comes to superhero films. Critics were more harsh on The Flash due to the controversy surrounding Ezra Miller (whether the critics admit to that or not), and before that Shazam: Fury of the Gods, and Black Adam both struggled at the box office. Now comes the release of Blue Beetle, but it’s about as average as it gets.
Blue Beetle is a run-of-the-mill superhero origin story. It follows Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña), the first college graduate in his family, as he struggles to find a job to help support his family. During this time, he randomly runs into Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine) of Kord Industries, and that meeting would forever change his life.
It’s a very bland origin story that we’ve already seen this summer, let alone having to watch it over and over for years. Transformers: Rise of the Beasts had a very similar story with a young adult who needed to get a job to help his struggling family, then has a chance encounter that changes his life forever. The main story beats are nearly identical.
The only unique aspect of Blue Beetle is the Hispanic flavor that’s sprinkled throughout the film. The problem is even that aspect of the movie struggles to connect. In Black Panther, the film was engulfed in African themes, from Wakanda, to Oakland, to the soundtrack, the jokes (colonizer!), the dialogue, and everything in between. All aspects of the film had a deep cultural attachment.
When it comes to Blue Beetle, there are plenty of nods to Hispanic culture, but they’re nowhere near as natural as what we saw in Black Panther. Some aspects are completely over the top in an attempt to get a laugh out of the audience (which fails half the time), some things feel forced, and then some of it works really well, but it’s a very uneven experience.
Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer wrote the script for Blue Beetle, and his last big script was for Miss Bala back in 2019. That movie was also a very bland, by the books action movie. He applied that same formula for Blue Beetle, and the results are just as middling. Blue Beetle did start off as an HBO Max exclusive, so perhaps there wasn’t a big enough budget allocation to get a better writer on board, but the script holds the movie back considerably.
The main antagonist in Blue Beetle is Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon). She is easily the most generic villain we’ve seen in a superhero movie in years. Comically evil, nonsensical, completely unrelatable, and just plain bad. Victoria is easily the worst part of the movie, and as we’ve seen from other successful films (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, Avengers: Infinity War) a quality villain really elevates everything else about the movie.
Xolo Maridueña does a respectable job as Jaime Reyes, but there are more than a few similarities between Jaime and Xolo’s Cobra Kai character, Miguel Diaz. He’s basically playing the same character, but it fits well enough with what the film is going for. Once again, it’s nothing we haven’t already seen countless times, but since we know James Gunn plans to continue on with Xolo in the new DC Universe, he will likely do much better once he has a solid script behind him.
Blue Beetle is about as middle of the road as it gets for a superhero origin story. The family dynamic helps elevate the material a bit, but it’s not enough to counteract how bland the rest of the film is. If the movie was released in 2002 it would be a much better experience, but watching that kind of generic superhero adventure in 2023 simply doesn’t cut it. Blue Beetle needed to either hire a better writer and villain, or it should have simply stayed an HBO Max exclusive where it would’ve been one of the better streaming service original films.
About Blue Beetle
Synopsis: An alien scarab chooses college graduate Jaime Reyes to be its symbiotic host, bestowing the teenager with a suit of armor that’s capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the superhero known as Blue Beetle.
Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Writer: Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer
Stars: Xolo Maridueña, Bruna Marquezine, Becky G
Runtime: 2 Hours, 7 Minutes
Bryan Dawson has been writing professionally since the age of 13. He started his career as a video game writer and has since worked for Random House, Prima Games, DirecTV, IGN, AOL, the British Government, and various other organizations. For GNN, Bryan taps into his passion for movies.