BLUE BEETLE. Superheroic burrito with no spice

Blue Beetle seemingly initiates a new DC Universe, yet it is not a part of it. It appears to showcase something fresh but plays on established patterns. However, it successfully wins with its...

Marcin Konczewski

19 August 2023

blue beetle

The latest production of the new DC Universe won’t make a sudden impact in theaters. We can be certain of that. There’s no appropriate marketing campaign; it enters the screens in an atmosphere of anonymity because the character of Blue Beetle is mostly known to the most dedicated fans of DC comics. So, how does the film itself fare? Maybe there’s nothing groundbreaking in it; narratively, it’s a very classic origin story that exudes the vibe of a different era of superhero films. Well, one cliché follows another, and the main character is quite an unremarkable everyman. Moreover, the second part of the film suffers and bleeds script-wise. Nevertheless… I had a really good time at moments. It’s like a better Shazam 2 mixed with Spider-Man, which is really strange, as it does work on the level of sheer fun. Angel Manuel Soto’s film contains the atmosphere of the blended first Transformers, Hercules with Kevin Sorbo, Iron Man, and Fast and Furious. In spirit, it’s closest to Schumacher’s Batman, as there’s really a lot of silliness and nods to Mexican campiness here. It’s much worse than each of those movies on many levels, yet it wins over with its sincerity. There are loads of cool supporting characters, a good dose of humor, joy, and simple, pure entertainment. Plus, the creators understand the theme of family better than the entire Fast and Furious series put together.

Joy and freshness

Joy and freshness within a worn out pattern – those are the key words in the perception of Blue Beetle, at least in the first part of the film. There’s no sense of the burden of high stakes multi-verses, saving the entire planet or galaxy. It’s a very down-to-earth story, and it’s where it wins the most. The closer we get to the family, the Mexican cultural background, their fundamental and genuine passions and values, the better it gets. Here, there’s an abundance of sincerity and freshness, with layers of good humor and pure fun. We’re treated to a lot of vividness, especially on the visual level. However, as soon as we venture into distant, corporate-technological territories, that’s when the essence of Soto’s production escapes. In the finale, all of Blue Beetle’s sins come to light – it’s overly inflated, really naive production, which at times reeks of terrible plot stagnation. Its problem is that it tries to pull too many strings at once – it introduces numerous plotlines and characters, while fundamentally, we’re interested in the next scene with the fervent and emotional Reyes family hearth. Grandma Nana and Uncle Rudy shine here. Especially Adriana Barraza, embodying the senior of the Reyes clan, is the glue that wonderfully holds everything together. These characters are full of humor and charm, and we even forgive them the most cringe-worthy moments because they strike right at the heart. That’s why I’m disappointed in the finale, which tries to mimic a typical Marvel ending; it’s trying too hard to be that, as if it doesn’t understand that it’s not the right path, that it’s been done before, and no one wants that anymore. Despite its sincere intentions, this film strongly shows that superhero cinema in this form has already passed and awaits a reevaluation. The macro scale in this burrito is tasteless; we find the flavor in the small family particles on the micro scale.

Blue Beetle

No charisma

The issue with Blue Beetle doesn’t only lie in the generic nature of the second part of the film but also in the main character – Jaime Reyes is supposed to be an everyman, somewhat like Shazam, chosen by the scarab (a quite lazy arc for this interplanetary entity/weapon), yet he lacks a touch of charisma. The casting or the idea behind him disappointed. He’s simply a poorly written character. His primary and basic motivation is his struggling family, which is contrasted against the Kords, the millionaires shaking Palmera City. In the end, he somewhat gets lost in the sequence of final explosions because as a character, he lacks personality traits beyond being decent. This stands in opposition to the aforementioned, very distinctive image of the Reyes family – the grandma has almost two faces and hidden demons from the past, the uncle is a typical conspiracy theorist in love with his car, turning out to be a good guy, the parents are flesh and blood, and the sister is an ironist with a big heart. And Jaime? He’s decent. That’s it. The worn-out character of the antagonist didn’t convince me either – Susan Sarandon is the film’s poster, its most recognizable character, yet she remains a walking cliché with questionable motivations. A bit better in this regard is Carapax, as there’s a hint of depth within him, again a cliché, but some sort of it. Victoria Kord is simply the corporate essence of a capitalist, offended snake, and nothing more. She’s nowhere near a character like the High Evolutionary.

blue beetle

I haven’t seen such an uneven film in a long time, which managed to make me laugh numerous times and provided a lot of fun. It’s enjoyable to watch because in the era of superhero oversaturation, it offers a lot of cultural freshness, familial tenderness, and understanding that even Dom Toretto might envy. Nevertheless, despite its positive reception on the level of escapist experience, it’s hard not to notice the massive weaknesses in the second part and the lack of an interesting plot idea. Only the final scenes save the day, where Soto plays with the supporting characters and lets them go wild, entertaining the audience. Where it’s meant to be serious, it ends up being trivial, shallow, and generic. That’s why I’d gladly watch a series about the everyday life of the Reyes family, much like I would for Ms. Marvel.

Marcin Konczewski

Marcin Konczewski

The founder of the Kon (Horse) Movie fanpage, where he transforms into a film animal who gallops with pleasure through the multiverse of superhero productions, science-fiction, fantasy and all kinds of animations. If he had to say something about himself, he would say that Kon is a pop culture lover, a self-proclaimed critic constantly looking for a human in cinema, a fan of non games, literature, dinosaurs and Batman. Professionally, a teacher (by choice), always opposed to the concrete education system, strongly pushing alternative forms of education. He quietly writes fairy tales and fantastic stories for his little son. A Polish philologist by education. He collaborates with several publishing houses and YouTube channels.

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