Skip to content
Home » Blue Beetle (2023) Review: DC’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good Year

Blue Beetle (2023) Review: DC’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good Year

This is a review for the 2023 movie “Blue Beetle”. Blue Beetle is a 2023 American superhero film based on the DC Comics character Jaime Reyes / Blue Beetle. Produced by DC Studios and The Safran Company, and distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it is the 14th instalment of the DC Extended Universe (DCEU). The film was directed by Ángel Manuel Soto and written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, and stars Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes / Blue Beetle alongside Adriana Barraza, Damián Alcázar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Susan Sarandon, and George Lopez. It premiered in El Paso on August 15, 2023, and was released on August 18.

The DC Universe in 2023

The DC Extended Universe is on its way out, with James Gunn and Peter Safran set to re-launch it in 2025. That announcement was made earlier this year, leaving four upcoming DC releases in a unique state of limbo. Those movies were the sequels to Shazam and Aquaman, alongside the Flash’s first standalone movie; and the origin story for a new hero – Blue Beetle. We’re still yet to be graced with Aquaman 2, but Shazam and The Flash were both big box office failures for the studio. The Flash was particularly singled out for its bad CGI, controversial lead and an overreliance on cameos, some of which were in pretty bad taste.

There have been a lot of questions asked regarding how much of the current DC cinematic universe will transfer over to the new one. Gunn has already confirmed that many of his “The Suicide Squad” characters will survive the relaunch. The two have also been saying that there’s no reason that Shazam, the Flash, Blue Beetle and Aquaman can’t appear with the same actors behind them in the new universe. Though, that’s likely just being said so that audiences don’t give up on these movies. I can’t imagine we’ll be seeing Ezra Miller or Zachary Levi in those roles again.

Blue Beetle is the movie in this year’s line-up that piqued the most interest. It’s a mostly standalone origin story, so there’s no real cinematic universe baggage attached. If this movie proved to be a success, it could very easily be tagged into the new universe.

What is Blue Beetle about?

Jaime Reyes is a Mexican-American superhero appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics. Created by Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner, the character made his first appearance in February 2006, making him the third character to assume the mantle of the hero Blue Beetle. Blue Beetle is a superhero with a wide range of powers and abilities. Thanks to the powers of Khaji Da, the actual Blue Beetle, he can create a special armoured suit that gives him superhuman strength, the ability to create a shield or an energy pulse, as well as to morph certain parts of his armor to create various weapons, as well as actual wings he uses for flight.

The 2023 movie Blue Beetle is based on the DC Comics character Jaime Reyes / Blue Beetle – telling his origin story in the DCEU. In the movie, recent college grad Jaime Reyes returns home full of aspirations for his future, only to find that home is not quite as he left it. As he searches to find his purpose in the world, fate intervenes when Jaime unexpectedly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology: the Scarab.

It’s marketed as being the first Latino superhero and the movie does embrace this culture. Many online have acknowledged that the family dynamic displayed is very authentic to true Mexican-American experiences. The choices of music across the film also contribute towards this tone.

The Wins for Blue Beetle

Blue Beetle has a lot to like. As mentioned above, it fully embraces the Mexican origins of its characters and portrays a tight-knit, multi-generational family – who all get involved in the action elements of the film, and the emotional beats of the plot. This dynamic doesn’t always work, but it does come across as authentic and gives the movie heart. If there’s one thing that I think the DCEU has managed to do more successfully than the MCU, it’s giving heroes interesting, but loveable, families. The foster home in the original Shazam gave the movie a real emotional core, and the familial bond was arguably the strongest aspect of the less positively received sequel.

The other thing that I really like about this movie is the world building. I love that the DC Universe uses fictional places like Gotham, Metropolis and (in this case) Palmera City – each with their own unique identity. Palmera City is a very fun setting and small details (such as the high tech airport signs) give the movie a lot more character, than if it was simply set in New York City.

A lot of people have described this movie as a fun ride, particularly enjoying how it isn’t reliant on other DC movies to boost its prospects. I can second the latter part – it’s nice to have a standalone movie, though I don’t feel as a generous to this movie, as a whole.

The Makings of a Good Origin Story (…and why Blue Beetle isn’t one)

Pretty much every superhero franchise starts with an origin story – where we get to see the superhero go from average Joe to a super-powered hero figure. Blue Beetle is an attempt at the origin story, but I don’t believe it’s a very successful origin story.

Let’s take one of the most iconic origin stories of all time – that we have seen replicated on screen many times: Spider-Man. Peter Parker is bitten by a radioactive spider and gains the powers of a spider, thus becoming Spider-Man. Origin story complete, right? Wrong! That’s how Peter Parker gets his powers, but his origin story is the death of his Uncle Ben: leading him to realise the responsibility that he holds, with his powers. It’s not until this moment that he takes on the mantle of becoming a hero.

The Blue Beetle movie tells the story of a young man who is already perfect in every way. He’s ambitious, but not too ambitious, he’s family driven, but not too family driven. He accidentally gets super powers and has to fight off Susan Sarandon, who wants her intellectual property back, and her goons to save himself and his family. The end. Jaime does not change at all throughout the story and he doesn’t really perform any heroic acts.

I think the solution to this would actually be pretty simple and would elevate the movie ten-fold. The movie is set-up so that it’s always about Jaime learning the importance of family. The movie even ends with him dramatically stating to a villain how powerful his family makes him – as if it’s a revelation to him, and not something that’s been clearly part of his character since the start of the story. These moments would resonate a lot more, if we saw some conflict between Jaime and the presence of his family. If he neglected family moments to make time for chasing a career; or simply just for irresponsible, self-indulgent superhero shenanigans. For Jaime to grow as a character, he needs to start as a flawed character: rather than as somebody who’s already found the perfect balance in life.

The DCEU’s Villain Problem

I want to preface this section by saying that Susan Sarandon is an international treasure, both on and off-screen. However, she’s wasted in this movie – as the primary antagonist and villain. She joins a whole line-up of underwhelming DC movie villains. The Flash had Michael Shannon phoning-in a reprise of his role as Emperor Zod. Shazam 2 had some good performances from Lucy Liu and Helen Mirren, but they were far from the strongest parts of those movies. I can’t even remember the villain from Black Adam.

A superhero movie is remembered for the villain. When you think of Spider-Man 2, for example, you’ll say “oh, that’s the one with Doc Oc!”. When you think of The Dark Knight, you’ll say “oh, Heath Ledger was so good as the Joker in that one!”. If the villain isn’t memorable, then the movie isn’t memorable. I’ve literally just watched this movie and I’ve forgotten the names of the villains. Sarandon is a stereotypical evil business lady, who wants to make weapons and doesn’t care who she has to kill to get her way. Apparently she has access to an army of highly-equipped soldiers, who can operate outside of the law, too. Her lackey is the classic “I’m you, but evil” superhero trope. I am so sick of supervillains just having the same powerset of their hero counter-parts; it’s such a boring trope.

The Verdict on Blue Beetle

I was mixed on The Flash and liked Shazam 2 a lot more than most people, so I really wasn’t sure how I would feel on this one. I was expecting to be pleasantly surprised, based off of the reviews I had read; but ended up leaving disappointed. What has been described as a fun romp and solid stand-alone story ended up being a boring, predictable film with nothing to say. Not every movie needs to re-invent the wheel, but I at least expect some form of new decoration on the wheel, to keep it fresh. I think people were softer on this movie, due to it being somewhat of an underdog in the movie landscape – everyone expected it to flop and financially, it pretty much has.

But, it’s simply not a very good movie. It’s fine and there’s nothing offensively awful here; but nobody will remember this chapter of the DCEU, unless Blue Beetle does the impossible and survives the reboot. Unless you’re excited by the Mexican cultural aspects (which are solid), I can’t recommend wasting your time with this one.

Score: 4 / 10

This was a review for the 2023 movie “Blue Beetle”. Did you enjoy this movie? Let us know in the comments below.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *