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Review: Blue Beetle
Jaime Reyes Is A Superhero Whether He Likes It Or Not
Recent college graduate Jaime Reyes returns home full of aspirations for his future, only to find that home is not quite as he left it. As he searches to find his purpose in the world, fate intervenes when Jaime unexpectedly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology - the Scarab.
As a Latino, I can’t say I’ve seen “myself” onscreen too many times. Especially as one who has tracked down and watched major films from every era in the medium’s history. There’s been some highlights like 2021’s In The Heights but there’s also been lowlights like the original 1961 West Side Story’s brownface and even the 2021 version featured some frustrating errors even with more actual Latinos involved in that one.
But the latest DC flick from Warner Brothers, Blue Beetle, has lead to a lot of praise for its Latino inclusion in representation, culture, and needle drops. So count me in as someone who went from having zero interest in this one to becoming more curious the closer we got to release date.
What I will say as a Latino is that though I am Puerto Rican not Mexican, I did certainly see “myself” in this much more than I would have where it another white superhero lead film. The inclusion and representation adds a different flavor that made it stand out just from that alone. The Reyes family is a great positive portrait of Latino family and culture. From the personalities to the little touches like using vapor rub in a certain way. The needle drops are great and feature songs that I always thought might be great to use in a popcorn flick, all of them matching well with the story beat they’re used for and representing Latinos better than seventies oldies that are usually used in other films would have.
But that all said I did find myself wondering how much would I like this were that element of the film taken out of it. And frankly without that Latino flavor, this movie would’ve been another passer-by mediocre effort from DC. The villain played by Susan Sarandon of all people is not really a standout, the story is incredibly predictable and borrows from other better overall superhero films, and there were some attempts at comedy that just felt flat and at times downright cringe to me. If this was Joe Schmoe and family and not the Reyes’ that were our protagonists, my interest would have died off quick.
That said I do think the Latino representation and heritage, that total Latino flavor as I called it, does help elevate the movie from a C-range status to more of a B-range status. I wouldn’t place this among the Guardians Of The Galaxy, Thor: Ragnarok, Avengers: Infinity War, The Suicide Squad, The Batman ranks; but I would say this one film I could easily recommend to anyone looking for a fun popcorn action flick. Its got the typical safe superhero origins story with action and comedic/audience moments but is elevated by its great Latino cast. My initial grade for Blue Bettle is a good enough B-.