After the disappointments of The Flash and Shazam: Fury of the Gods earlier this year and a reboot of the entire universe on the horizon, the DC movies are in a weird limbo, which is probably why Blue Beetle was released in theaters instead of on streaming as originally planned.
For a movie that was conceived for streaming, Blue Beetle does manage to hold its own as a theatrical release. It delivers plenty of action and fun while offering an ensemble superhero movie disguised as a solo origin story. While Jaimie Reyes (Xolo Mariduena) is given a lot of screen time and growth throughout the film, it’s his supporting cast, mainly comprised of his family and including scene-stealing George Lopez as his uncle Rudy, who shines. At one point, they even rescue Jaimie themselves, switching up the familiar damsel in distress trope, which ends up being a delightful surprise. Even Jaimie’s love interest, Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine), gets in the action, becoming more of an equal partner in the action than just the girl whose affection Blue Beetle wins at the end of the day. In fact, she plays a prominent role in Jaimie’s origin. Even the Blue Beetle suit, given the name Khaji-Da and voiced by Becky G, is given a role in the story.
While the supporting cast is excellent and makes the movie worth watching, the villains, unfortunately, fall a little flat. Despite a strong performance by Susan Sarandon, Victoria Kord still comes off as just another generic billionaire villain, which we already have plenty of. Her connection to the previous Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, is sadly wasted partly due to the absence of Ted Kord in the movie. While Ted’s daughter Jenny does offer a familial connection, it feels underdeveloped and fails to make us care about Victoria Kord as a villain. Perhaps she will return in a sequel, and we will see the sibling reunion/rivalry that was missing in this movie.
Ignacio Carapax/OMAC (Raoul Max Trujillo) turns out to be an even less developed villain than Victoria Kord. He serves mainly as a sparring partner for Blue Beetle and suffers from something the early Marvel movies suffered from in terms of villains. That being said, he comes off as simply a copy of the hero, much like Yellowjacket in Ant-Man, Iron Monger in the original Iron Man, and Abomination in the Incredible Hulk movie. His backstory is explored to some degree, but not enough to invest in the character.
Aside from some weak villains, Blue Beetle is a fun, action-filled film that manages not to take itself too seriously, which has been a problem with DC movies from the beginning. Some may argue why they haven’t been able to compete with the more successful Marvel movies. It does dive into some darker territory, such as the death of Jaimie’s Father (Damian Alcazar), OMAC’s tragic backstory, and Ted Kord abandoning his daughter after the death of his wife, but still manages to keep things light-hearted.
With Blue Beetle now acting as the first official movie in the new DC cinematic universe, it sets up a decent foundation while being a fun palate-cleanser after The Flash. While, in my opinion, it didn’t necessarily need to be a theatrical release, and I would rather have seen the release of the canceled Batgirl movie, it was still a fun time with plenty of action and a great cast. Here’s to hoping we see Blue Beetle return in the rebooted DC movie universe, as the character still has a lot of potential, and the appearance of the preceding Blue Beetle Ted Kord was teased pretty hard. It didn’t light the world on fire like Iron Man did when it launched the MCU, but it still offered characters I want to see again.