BLUE BEETLE is now on Max (HBO) and the new DC movie is a real sci-fi treat. Complete with a Cronenberg-inspired 80s vibe, including quite a bit of body horror, and even a nod to Guillermo del Toro. Read our full Blue Beetle movie review here!
BLUE BEETLE is a new DC superhero movie on Max (HBO). This is very much a stand-alone movie in the DC universe, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be connected to other DC characters. I mean, Batman is mentioned. Sure, it’s for a brief moment when the uncle of our superhero says “Batman is a fascist”, but still.
Also, yes, though this is DC and not Marvel, we do still get an end-credit scene. In fact, there are two. First, there’s the mid-end-credit scene that teases what a sequel might focus on. Then there’s the funny end-of-end-credit scene that just offers a little something extra.
Continue reading our Blue Beetle movie review below. Find it on Max (HBO) from November 17, 2023.
Diversity and family for the win
In Blue Beetle, the young man, Jaime Reyes, accidentally gets chosen by an ancient alien scarab. Once he is chosen, it bonds with him and turns him into a superhero. Or super soldier as some see it. So they obviously want to get their hands on the “tech” of the scarab. It’s a simple and solid story that sets the stage perfectly.
I love it when the superhero isn’t just another white dude. Don’t get me wrong, I love Superman and Captain America, to name just one from each of the two major comic universes. However, getting Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel was a nice move. So was Black Panther and the many alternate universe Spiderman-versions.
Still, getting a movie like Blue Beetle where the hero is a young man of Hispanic (Mexican, to be exact) origin is definitely also long overdo. And I also loved how the women in his family were so tough, funny, and actual heroes in their own right.
In fact, the whole family element of Blue Beetle cannot be highlighted or applauded enough. Far too often, family has only been a ploy in comics. Used to build up a hero and send them on their story arc of redemption. In Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes is with his family and fights both next to them and for them. And they do the same for him!
And then there’s the villain, who could be described as a “Karen”. Her name is Victoria and even she gets an interesting backstory. Not one that excuses her despicable actions, but might explain why she will do anything to keep her power.
The title character is portrayed by Xolo Maridueña. Or rather, his character is named Jaime Reyes, but he turns into the Blue Beetle. Xolo Maridueña (Cobra Kai) is perfect in this role as the charming and caring young man, who doesn’t really want to be a superhero but does want to help his family.
Having Susan Sarandon as the villain with an actual backstory and no remorse is brilliant. She portrays Victoria Kord as a privileged and racist (though she would never recognize this) powerhouse CEO, who believes everyone exists to do her bidding. They can either be bought or ignored. Even discarded, if she so wishes.
Working for her, we see Raoul Max Trujillo (Apocalypto, Mayans M.C.) as the RoboCop-like character, Carapax. Also, the wonderful Harvey Guillén (Guillermo from What We Do in the Shadows) is a doctor and scientist. Someone Victoria Kord insists on calling “Sanchez” though he keeps saying this is not his name!
The voice of the alien scarab comes from Becky G (Power Rangers), and there is also a love interest in Blue Beetle. Her name is Jenny Kord (yes, as in a relative of the villain) and she’s portrayed by Bruna Marquezine. One of the most queer-coded characters I’ve seen in quite some time, but I don’t think that’s very intentional.
Welcome to the 1980s
No, Blue Beetle doesn’t take place in the 1980s, but the vibe of this movie is most certainly full of pop culture references from this decade. Even the poster makes this very obvious and I am absolutely here for it.
I think of Blue Beetle as a family movie of sorts, but that’s always the case with any comic-based movie. This one does get quite dark, so while the pre-“turning into a superhero” scenes are very cute and funny, the moment where Jaime turns into the Blue Beetle for the first time is downright terrifying.
That’s where the whole “body horror” element becomes very obvious. The director has even stated that a movie like David Cronenberg’s The Fly is one of the movies used for inspiration. Also, there’s a whole lair that looks like it was made in the 1980s.
Clearly, the 1980s vibe will hit differently for those of us who grew up in the 1980s. Still, the nostalgic vibe of both the 1980s and 1990s is already prevalent for all ages via many other popular productions. Not least Netflix’s Stranger Things.
Watch Blue Beetle on Max (HBO) now!
Ángel Manuel Soto is the director of Blue Beetle. He previously directed the 2020 Max Original Charm City Kings (aka Twelve) and the award-winning 2015 movie La granja. The screenplay comes from Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, who also wrote the screenplay for Catherine Hardwicke’s Miss Bala (2019).
Also, I have to mention that Jaime’s grandmother is portrayed by Adriana Barraza. I always get a horror vibe from Adriana Barraza, which stems from when she was in Sam Raimi‘s 2009 horror movie Drag Me to Hell. Also, more recently, she was in the Blumhouse Prime Video horror movie Bingo Hell (2021).
Whether you want to watch Blue Beetle because you love comic adaptions or just as a sci-fi body horror 80s homage, you should be entertained. Obviously, it doesn’t get bloody because this is a movie meant for the family (teens and up). Still, it does have nods to Cronenberg and even Guillermo del Toro‘s 1992 fantasy horror Cronos.
Blue Beetle premieres on Max (HBO) on November 17, 2023.
Director: Angel Manuel Soto
Writer: Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer
Stars: Xolo Maridueña, Susan Sarandon, Bruna Marquezine, George Lopez, Becky G, Damián Alcázar, Adriana Barraza, Belissa Escobedo, Harvey Guillén, Raoul Max Trujillo
College grad Jaime Reyes and his close-knit family must reluctantly accept Jaime’s destiny: to become the Super Hero Blue Beetle.