DCEU’s Blue Beetle: A Refreshingly Simple Origin Story with Powerful Family Bonds
Superhero films have become increasingly complex in recent years, with multiple universes and franchises to keep track of. However, DC’s latest offering, Blue Beetle, takes a refreshingly simple approach to storytelling. Under the direction of James Gunn and Peter Safran, Blue Beetle serves as a relaunch of the DC Extended Universe, introducing audiences to a new hero with a straightforward origin story and powerful family connections.
The film centers around Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña), a young and unassuming student who returns to his city of Palmera after studying at Gotham Law School. Palmera, a vibrant yet troubled version of Gotham, is controlled by the corporate conglomerate Kord Industries. However, beneath the colorful surface lies a darker issue – the conglomerate’s plans to take over the livelihoods and living spaces of long-time Mexican residents of the city.
At the heart of the story is the scarab, a sentient and symbiotic AI known as Khaji-da. Kord Industries, led by the formidable Victoria (Susan Sarandon), aims to harness the power of the scarab to create an army of super soldiers. However, the scarab has its own agenda and chooses Jaime as its new host, transforming him into the Blue Beetle.
While the film follows the familiar beats of an origin story, it distinguishes itself through its emphasis on family. Unlike most superheroes who keep their identities a secret, Jaime becomes Blue Beetle in front of his loving and eclectic family. They serve as a source of support and guidance throughout his journey, adding depth and emotional resonance to the film. Jaime’s street-smart and sassy sister Milagro (Belissa Escobedo), his tech-savvy uncle Rudy (George Lopez), and his parents and grandmother (Damían Alcázar, Elpidia Carrillo, and Adriana Barraza) all contribute to the film’s comedic and adventurous moments, even coming to the superhero’s aid in unexpected ways.
Blue Beetle also tackles social issues, particularly the challenges faced by immigrants. Through poignant monologues and conversations between characters, the film sheds light on the sacrifices made by immigrant families and their resilience in the face of adversity. It addresses themes of invisibility and the dehumanizing nature of the term alien, providing a sobering yet necessary perspective.
While the film admirably balances its family-focused narrative with social commentary, it does falter in certain areas. The primary antagonist and her super soldier prototype are introduced relatively late in the story, making their connection feel like an afterthought. Additionally, the action sequences, while visually exciting, lack the same depth and impact as the family dynamics. The film shines brightest when grounded by the heartfelt conversations and relationships between characters.
Despite these minor shortcomings, Blue Beetle serves as a safe and promising first step for the new DCEU. It captures a youthful and vibrant energy, incorporates timely themes, and delivers a respectable origin story. As Jaime’s father aptly puts it, Life is a journey… family should just go on it together. With Blue Beetle, audiences are in for an interesting and hopefully entertaining ride as James Gunn and Peter Safran continue to shape the future of the DCEU.