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Written By:

Paul Mount
Blue Beetle

by Paul Mount

As the DCEU stumbles shame-facedly towards the door marked ‘James Gunn reboot’, it can at least briefly raise its head in acknowledgement of the fact that, in the wake of a series of underperforming and creatively wanting superhero blockbusters, it’s finally delivered something significantly more assured even if its Box Office prospects are no better than its less-than-illustrious predecessors. No one was really interested or invested in the arrival of Blue Beetle – superhero characters rarely get much more obscure – but the film is actually a breath of fresh air in a genre that’s now horribly oversubscribed and in danger of collapsing under the weight of itself.

Jaime Reyes (Cobra Kai’s Xolo Mariduena, lighting up the screen and clearly having the time of his life) returns home from University and is reunited with his family in Palmera City, only to find that they have fallen on hard times – they are facing eviction, the family business has gone bust, and his father is recovering from a  heart attack. Jaime’s determination to find a job leads him to the door of Kord Industries, where the ruthless Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon) is working to create an army of super-soldiers by tapping into the alien energy of an artefact known as the Scarab. The Scarab inevitably finds its way into Jaime’s possession, and it quickly comes to life, fuses itself to his spine and envelops him in a powerful armoured suit. He becomes the latest Blue Beetle.

In reality, there’s nothing here we’ve not seen in umpteen superhero origin films, but director Angel Manuel Soto brings it to the screen in a blaze of vivid colour, its story centred around Jaime’s family – the supporting cast are all terrific, if a bit loud – which gives it a warmth so often eluded by earlier DCEU entries. The narrative itself is achingly familiar – baddy wants to retrieve alien tech for her own ends, and the newly-powered hero tries to come to terms with his abilities as he tries to stop her – but the family stakes allow the audience to properly invest in both the story and its cast. Budgeted at just over $100m, Blue Beetle punches well above its weight visually; the effects are terrific and give the film a scale and spectacle the equal of any film in the genre with three times the cash available.

Fast, funny, colourful, and genuinely exciting, Blue Beetle deserves a better fate than to be left on the DCEU scrap heap. It’s a genuine shame that the world’s first onscreen Latino superhero – a cultural marker that the film bears proudly but without feeling the need to shout about it – seems doomed to crash and burn into the wreckage of DC’s brasher, stupider cinematic mistakes.


BLUE BEETLE is in cinemas now


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