Is Blue Beetle the Saviour of the DC Universe
By: Russ Matthews
To say that the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) has struggled throughout the years is an understatement.
Warner Brothers has pinned their hope on James Gunn to bring this celebrated bastion of superheroes into the glorious position these characters deserve. Yet, as audiences wait to see how this remodelled comic book-inspired house will take form, a few holdovers must be released before the former residence is dismantled. Shazam: Fury of the Gods, Black Adam, and The Flash all imploded upon impact. Still, as the least familiar character of the lot, Blue Beetle may offer some hope for this desperate, but famed franchise.
Many may wonder who this DC superhero is, and thankfully this film does unpack his origin story. Law student Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) has returned home to Palmera City after graduating from Gotham City Law School. The reunion with his immigrant family is a short-lived celebration since they must move from their family home as the neighbourhood is being redeveloped by Kord Industries. As Jaime and his sister, Milagro (Belissa Escobedo), try to find a solution to their family issues, the pair crosses paths with Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine). The young heiress is attempting to stop her aunt Victoria (Susan Sarandon), the company’s co-founder and CEO, from creating a new weapon system from being developed.
In her efforts to sneak the source for this advanced weapon out of the corporate headquarters, Jenny manages to get it into Jaime’s hands. Despite the younger Kord giving him explicit instructions to not open the package, he goes against her wishes and finds The Scarab. This unassuming artefact is an alien, symbiotic creature that attaches itself to Jaime, and its unsuspecting host discovers that he has been gifted with irrevocable superpowers. A gift that makes him a target for Victoria and the Kord Industries, who want to harness his powers, even if this means destroying the young man and his family.
In a universe that includes the likes of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, this film exposes how disjointed things are in the DC realm. Since Blue Beetle has to be one of the least recognisable characters in this comic book giant. Yet, this movie has to be the best offering since Wonder Woman (2017), excluding Joker and The Batman, which are not part of the DCEU. Director Ángel Manuel Soto has captured the fun and adventure missing from this series of superhero films for years. A family-friendly experience that harkens back to the era when these superhero movies were aware of what they were meant to be for audiences, over-the-top entertainment and escapism that could be enjoyed by all.
Admittedly, there are plot holes, and Susan Sarandon may not be as villainous as one would expect of an arch-nemesis. Still, the familial elements and the whimsical tone make this film worth seeing despite being too late to save the former DCEU before the James Gunn transformation. Xolo Maridueña embodies the character with the innocence and energy needed to give him the Spider-man vibes needed in Gotham. Yet, surrounding him with a myriad of family characters will only make audiences want to see more from the Reyeses in the future. Some could argue that the screenplay has all of the familiar elements of every superhero origin tale, but there are still enough twists and humour to make this an appealing option for families worldwide.
Blue Beetle may not be able to save the DCEU. Still, this superhero does provide hope for the future of this genre and should motivate viewers to get out to theatres for good family fun.
REEL DIALOGUE: Purpose
One of the most poignant moments in Blue Beetle has to do with Jaime Reyes finding his purpose in life. Granted, the scarab and his role as a superhero is literally thrust upon him. Still, he is forced to make the decision to discover his full potential in life.
Many of us desire the ‘action adventure’ we see in many films, even though we probably wouldn’t want a symbiotic being living inside us. Yet, this escapism continues to drive Hollywood, and we may even wish for this to occur in our lives on some level. We are all looking for purpose, and most of us think it is somewhere outside of our grasp.
Instead, why not look at life as a gift. Each day is an opportunity to live. Why not see amongst the mundane aspects of life the adventure that comes with each new morning. The Bible shows that each day is a gift for us to accept and utilise.
What are you doing with the life you’ve been given?
For to the one who pleases him God gives wisdom and knowledge and joy; but to the sinner he gives the work of gathering and reaping, only to give to one who pleases God. – Ecclesiastes 2:26
Article supplied with thanks to City Bible Forum.
All images: Movie publicity
About the author: Russ Matthews is a film critic at City Bible Forum and Reel Dialogue. He has a passion for film and sparking spiritual conversations.
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