Watching Blue Beetle in action was like watching Iron Man, Iron Spiderman, and Venom all rolled into one hero except I wasn’t as invested. However, in Blue Beetle’s defense, the filmmaker’s did dedicate some solid time to developing a strong background for Jaime Reyes who becomes the Blue Beetle in this movie. Unfortunately, it was possibly only enough to slightly elevate the Blue Beetle movie beyond being ‘just another superhero movie.
Star Power Potential
Xolo Mariduena comes out strong as the lead character. Xolo’s portrayal as Jaime is genuine, and he has a hint of star power potential. It’s not exactly like watching a young Will Smith (yes, I know), or a young Brad Pitt, or one of many other stars who just have that element to them that makes you want to be that character even if there life isn’t that great. I would say Xolo’s element is there, but much smaller. So, in time, I could see him becoming a big star. To connect back with my previous post about Blue Beetle joining the DCU, after seeing this movie, I think that keeping Xolo as the character is an excellent idea. I still do have some more issues with the movie.
I also have more aspects of the movie that I enjoyed. The action was fun to watch, and Blue Beetle’s powers are visually exciting. The CGI, and other visual effects worked for me, but I’m not too picky when it comes to that. We saw in the trailer how he can create swords, and other weapons. He can fly, etc. Watching Jaime (the main character) bond with the Blue Beetle suit, and get used to his powers was fun, but not quite as exhilarating as it should have been.
So What Else is New
Part of the problem is that, it’s too similar to other superhero movies. Having him burst through the ceiling and roof of his house is entertaining, but it’s not quite as fun as Iron Man cutting power and dropping through the ceiling into his house. I’m not saying they shouldn’t have had that moment, but that is just one of many moments that feel almost like deja vu of other superhero movies.
In fact, the movie reminds me a lot of the first Iron Man, but with several twists. Instead of a wealthy main character, we have a wealthy love interest who is part owner of a company that makes weapons. Jaime’s love interest, Jenny Kord (played by Bruna Marquezine) is the niece of Susan Sarandon’s Victoria Kord. In this version of Iron Man, Victoria Kord is the genius, and the evil one (although the ‘arc reactor’ is tech that was designed by aliens whom we learn very little about). Of course, superheroes have been copying each other this way for a long time, but these things felt a little too similar for me. I still like the movie, I just think it could have been enhanced by making some more changes.
In the trailer, we hear the suit talking to Jaime. This is reminiscent of Tony Stark’s AI’s Jarvis, or Friday talking to him. In the movie (small spoiler for you non comic book fans- just skip this paragraph) we learn that the Scarab is a sort of symbiote. This is where the Venom similarities come into play. While the Venom movies aren’t high on my list, they did do a good job of developing an entertaining relationship between Tom Hardy’s Eddie Brock and the alien symbiote. The interactions between Jaime and the Blue Beetle symbiote were good, but could have been a little more developed.
Origins are Fun, but Overdone
While watching Blue Beetle, I also couldn’t help but desire something other than an origin story. Sure, Blue Beetle hasn’t had a lot of live action appearances(Smallville being one of them), and I believe this is the first time he is in a movie, but the audience knows what a Superhero is, and we’ve seen many times these ordinary people gain extraordinary powers and then learn what to do with them by the end of the movie. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll always watch and enjoy that if it’s carried out decently enough, but it would be nice to have something more.
An already established Blue Beetle who is learning more about the alien technology that gives him his powers while working hard to keep his city safe seems more interesting to me. There could be flashbacks, and interactions that tell us enough about his origins of becoming a superhero, but that’s just my opinion. If the studio insisted on the origin route, I would look to Sam Raimi’s Spiderman for inspiration.
Your Friendly Neighborhood Blue Beetle
Some people may not think that Sam Raimi’s Spiderman holds up today, but I think it does. Yes there was a lot of cheesiness, but there is still so much great about it. One of the greatest things about that Spiderman movie was how they told the origin story, and then established him as the web slinging hero before the third act of the movie came along. The movie still served as his origin for becoming a superhero who faces off against super villains, but we got to see him shine as the friendly neighborhood Spiderman for a little while, and it was nice. We also saw him working hard as the student, photographer, and love struck teen, Peter Parker.
That first Spiderman movie wasn’t afraid to have a little montage, and to have some time pass in the middle of the story. Of course, Blue Beetle didn’t need to copy what Spiderman did, but doing something similar to that, may have been more enjoyable to watch for me at least. Sam Raimi’s Spiderman really laid out the hero’s journey exceptionally well. Although, the source material helped a lot I’m sure, but that’s enough about Spiderman. I could go on and on.
Ride or Die: The Blue Beetle Family Factor
I appreciate what the filmmaker’s were doing in Blue Beetle by bringing in a strong family presence, and while I think it worked to enhance the movie, it wasn’t quite enough to make up for the feeling of similarity to other superhero movies. All of the family members played a great role in the story, and it was nice to see a superhero that had a decent sized family. He had two parent’s, a sister, and we can’t leave out his grandma, and his uncle. It was fun to see George Lopez as the crazy uncle, and most of his antics were pretty funny.
Superheroes typically end up having an adoptive family of sorts (or in the case of Shazam, literally), but it’s rare to see them with their original family. And it was nice to see that he didn’t have to try and hide his abilities from his family. That can be entertaining, however it has been done many, many times.
A Decent Superhero Movie
Overall, the actors all have a good chemistry with each other, and it would be fun to see them in a slightly stronger movie together. I say ‘slightly’ stronger because I really did enjoy the movie, but it had some room for improvement. If you’re feeling a little jaded by superhero movies, but you want to see a family work through a problem together then there is a good chance that you’ll enjoy Blue Beetle. That is as long as you can look past the similarities to superhero movies that have come before it.