Blue Beetle was always going to be a longshot whether at the theater or in any format with the shape DC and Warner Bros. are in. The same goes for Hollywood and superhero movies in general right now. There is also no way it stands a chance against the juggernaut Barbie became, but one question remains: does it stand on its own as any good?

Jamie Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) breaks his fall in Blue Beetle (2023), DC Studios

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The answer isn’t as simple as you might think so I’ll start with “Yeah, kind of.” From there, I’ll point out that the film is a little uneven and a lot of what director Angel Soto said was in it is – to ridiculous degrees. Yet it’s also fun in spots with reverence for the source material to go along (“Batman’s a fascist” aside).

Jaime Reyes (Xolo Mariduena) returns home as the first person in his family to graduate college, but he is greeted by news his family will be kicked out of their house, and that his father suffered a heart attack that forced him to close his business. Money tight and jobs few, he goes to work for Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon), owner of Kord Industries.

Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes and Belissa Escobedo as Milagro Reyes in Blue Beetle (2023), DC Studios

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He doesn’t last long under her as a housekeeper, but the association puts him in contact with Victoria’s niece Jenny (Bruna Marquezine). Jaime develops a crush but Jenny really turns his life upside down when she gives him a strange object for safekeeping, the Scarab. When it does its work, he’s put in the path of danger and both sides of Jenny’s family.

That means, of course, we’re introduced to her dad Ted, the first Blue Beetle, through his stuff including his aircraft The Bug. He doesn’t appear on screen but there is sequel bait for him, which is what the trilogy talk and the end-credits scene is all about. They also don’t neglect Dan Garrett, so the film is an entire legacy a la the comics.

Xolo Maridueña as Blue Beetle in Blue Beetle (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

However, it’s still very much Jaime’s movie, though he does share it with his family members. Blue Beetle excels in spots here as it portrays a nuclear family with a strong father figure who loves and provides for his children. He, unfortunately, gets overshadowed by the crazy uncle (George Lopez) and the wacky Nana (Adriana Barraza).

Both are placed strategically to steal the movie and it doesn’t quite happen. They are comic relief through whom all the conspiracy talk and anti-imperialist themes – everything to do with “The Message” – are filtered, merely for laughs. Luckily, none of it can be taken seriously even if the filmmakers are earnest about what they are expressing. There are effective ways of conveying that earnestness, but you won’t find them here.

Adriana Barraza as Nana Reyes, Belissa Escobedo as Milagro Reyes, Damian Alcazar as Alberto Reyes, and Elpidia Carrillo as Rocio Reyes in Blue Beetle (2023), Warner Bros. Pictures

I didn’t take Victoria Kord seriously either. Susan Sarandon shows up to pick up her check after she phones in her performance. It’s no wonder Sharon Stone wanted nothing to do with this movie. All Victoria is is a cartoon villain with delusions of grandeur as her motivation, like your standard Marvel bad guy. Rather than Lex Luthor, she channels the Obadiah Stanes and Darren Crosses of the MCU.

And if a DC movie could challenge Black Adam for the award of borrowing Kevin Feige’s notes, it would be this one. Blue Beetle borrows many elements from Iron Man and Ant-Man, even some of the ill-conceived ones. A version of Quantumania’s “dick” joke shows up in passing because Jaime’s sister (Belissa Escobedo) has to be a loudmouth at inappropriate times.

George Lopez as Uncle Rudy and Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes in Blue Beetle (2023), DC Studios

The Verdict

This film is formulaic, and “generic” goes a long way to describe it, but it coheres to its influences well enough to craft an interesting story. I enjoyed it overall, complaints aside, although I admit you can probably predict how Blue Beetle unfolds beat for beat if you’ve seen enough of these things. Still, its action and origin elements are enjoyable.

Conversely, its comedy is so-so, the “message” parts get in the way as usual, and they do the naked hero gag like in The Flash. My tolerance level is higher, but yours might not be, so I won’t compare Blue Beetle to that – Mariduena is a far more likable lead than Ezra Miller, for one – but we know why Hollywood does stuff like that.

No, I wouldn’t compare it to The Dark Knight either (or Batman Begins).

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‘Blue Beetle’ Review: A Bit Iron Man, A Lot Ant-Man, But All DC
PROS
  • Xolo Mariduena proves again that he is a breakout star.
  • Reverence for the Blue Beetle character and history.
  • Beautiful color palates.
CONS
  • Susan Sarandon's performance.
  • Messaging gums up the plot.
  • OMAC is shoehorned in though Max Trujillo delivers a steely portrayal.
5Overall Score
Reader Rating: (8 Votes)
3.1
  • About The Author

    JB Augustine

    Writer, journalist, comic reader. I cover all things DC and Godzilla. Fan since Batman TAS was brand new. Favorite character is between Swamp Thing and Darkwing Duck.