Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Evening Standard
Evening Standard
Ella Kemp

Blue Beetle movie review: full of heart, this one’s worth the buzz

Post-graduation anxiety is an acute, all-consuming thing. What next? What is this qualification worth? What’s your purpose? Jaime Reyes (pronounced “hi-may”, not “jay-mee” – one of many sharp and vital cultural specificities in the film) is desperately searching for his, returning home to the fiction Palmera City (think Bruce Bane’s Gotham) and wondering what comes next. He’s got his beloved family, his closest confidants – but he needs a job.

“Progress is not for us,” Jaime’s family warn him, while his sister Milagro glumly suggests that “invisibility is our superpower”. But everything changes when the rich and beautiful (and single!) Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine), daughter of revered inventor Ted Kord, entrusts Jaime with the Scarab: an ancient alien biotechnological relic that accidentally turns Jaime into an actual superhero: Blue Beetle.

Somewhere between the loveable dorkiness of Spider-Man and the cumbersome physical impact of Transformers, director Angel Manuel Soto’s film gives space to the post-teen panic of having no clue what you’re doing – shooting that feeling into the stratosphere with the responsibility of becoming a history-making superhero. Blue Beetle is also the first live-action superhero film to star a Latino lead (Cobra Kai star Xolo Maridueña rises to the challenge with great heart) while keeping that one hero’s family at the core of everything: there is no Jaime Reyes, no Blue Beetle, without the people who raised him.

Many of those people are women – his mother and his sister, but also his grandmother Nana who fully ends up stealing the show in some of the film’s most explosive and entertaining scenes. Soto balances heart and wit to lay the foundations of this story and of this world, always keeping grounded and focused on the people who matter most. This means that much of Reyes’ job, here, is to fully understand what it means to have such responsibility – the world will always need saving, perhaps it’s more important to come to terms with what that might cost first.

Inevitably, as Blue Beetle, a DC comics favourite, comes into the world with such enormous expectations, there are narrative trappings that keep this film firmly within the mould of the universe it fits into. But there is still fresh energy that suggests a gentle change of gear (and an enjoyably evil performance from Susan Sarandon as Ted’s villainous sister Victoria) with bold ambition. As one character in this year’s most eye-watering blockbuster Barbie tells their own mother: you don’t have to make everything perfect, just make it better. Jaime Reyes and his family are on the right track to make the DC Extended Universe exactly that.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.