If anyone looks back to earlier this year, it was filled with some really good trailers for superhero movies. From 'Ant-Man: Quantamina' to 'Spiderman: Across the Spider Verse', all of these movies created a massive hype, but not all lived up to that expectation.
The DC Universe, especially, had a really dry run for quite a while. Their most recent damp squib was 'The Flash', heralded as the most ambitious crossover and adaptation. But it is not always the A-listed superheroes who shine the brightest in the blackest nights.
And so that role of the redeemer was fulfilled by DCU's newest, 'Blue Beetle', released on 16 August. The character is not one of the most popular in comics. More often than not, his story does not carry the same weight as other big names like Batman or Superman. Yet, this uncrowned latin superhero far outdid the said big shots, in his dazzling blue suit and a stellar set of abilities.
This was basically an origin story of the central character. And unlike most, director Ángel Manuel Soto's 'Blue Beetle' goes beyond typical origin stories with its strong focus on the protagonist's history and familial connections. This aspect is integral to the movie's charm and its main attraction.
The story does not make things unnecessarily complicated. Our protagonist, Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) returns home to find it in shambles and decides to do something about it, while making his bond even stronger with his family. His newfound powers and associations cause him great turmoil, but he has to overcome them to protect the ones he loves the most.
While it is a familiar setup, the movie does actually a bit more than just depict the story of a new superhero. The movie stands as a humble nod to the Latino community.
Yes there have been near perfect depictions of this representation through 'Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse' and 'Across the Spider-Verse'. But 'Blue Beetle' deviates a bit from just portraying the latino culture. Instead, it attempts to focus on how marginalised they are as a community.
'Blue Beetle' is an endearing and playful movie. It earnestly attempts to exceed its expectations, sprinkling its narrative with continuous references to the Latin American cultural background.
Simultaneously, it provides the anticipated superhero movie with elements of action and comic references. It subtly acknowledges the characters' origins tied to anti-imperialist themes, without explicitly specifying the imperial forces they opposed.
The political undertone of the plotline might be a little discouraging for those who just want to enjoy a little bit of superhero action. After all, a superhero is mostly about taking down the bad guys in style. The fun part is that there is no shortage of that either. The movie itself is rather fast paced.
Given the simple story and its pace, there are enough action sequences to enjoy. The fight choreography is very well done. The scenes really speak for a kid who never fought in his life; actually getting into a tussle with seasoned opponents, with the help of a J.A.R.V.I.S-like entity at his side.
If anyone remembers, one of the reasons why 'The Flash' didn't really work well was because of its funny visuals. 'Blue Beetle' corrects that course as well. While the dark setting during many of the sequences was rather off putting, the movie pulled off some of the best visuals. It breathes a decent amount of fresh air after numerous superhero movies went through disastrous CGI fiasco.
The movie will remind anyone of Iron Man taking his first flight or Peter Parker's trauma. But the movie still has its pitfalls. As the story builds up, it turns into a big show with lots of fancy CGI scenes. These scenes look amazing, but they're like ones we've seen before in other movies. The excitement and feelings that the film worked hard to create become less important when compared to the overwhelming effects and action. It's like the movie gives in to the pressure of trying to be super impressive like other movies of its kind.
The movie was not really filled with well known stars. The central cast included Xolo Maridueña (Jaime Reyes/Blue Beetle), Bruna Marquezine (Jenny Kord), George Lopez (Rudy Reyes), Belissa Escobedo (Milagro Reyes), among others. But despite being underrated, they all painted a really endearing story worth visiting.
All in all, 'Blue Beetle' reminds us why we loved some of the remarkable origin story superhero movies like 'Ant-Man' or 'Black Panther' or even the first 'Shazam!'.
The movie might not be flawless but it has gone down the right path. It serves a reminder that, even in a world filled with capes and galactic battles, there's still space for little tales that connect with people on a personal level.