The Dark Herald Does Not Recommend: The Blue Beetle 

The Dark Herald Does Not Recommend: The Blue Beetle 

I have no idea how this film got greenlit.   

Okay. Yes, I do it was an Ann Sarnoff project before Zaslov fired her. This is clearly a movie made by rich white liberals for poor brown Latinos, who would have been annoyed by the pandering if they had bothered to see this movie.   

Which they didn’t.  

It was trying for the Marvel vibe from 5 years ago but comes across as a 1980s TV superhero movie with modern effects.  I’m not really joking, that is honestly the quality of the script, story structure, and characters.  And also the pandering.  The writer is a Latino himself.  A Latino with a hyphenated last name and a first name of Gareth and it shows.  Pretty sure he did call himself a Latinx for all five minutes last year. 

They are very proud of the fact that this is the very first Latino superhero movie if you don’t count Miles Morales, America Chavez, or fucking Zorro.    

I suppose I should do some background stuff. 

Blue Beetle is kind of an odd choice for a superhero movie.  He started out in the late 1930s for Fox Comics and in his day he was popular enough to rate his own radio show.  This first Beetle got his powers from a mystic blue scarab, which didn’t stop his title from running out of steam and getting canceled.   

Charleton Comics eventually discovered that it had picked up the rights somewhere along the line and handed the title to Steve Ditko.  Ditko famously preferred unpowered superheroes so his version of Blue Beetle, Ted Kord, was initially an inventor/sidekick of the original hero.  Ted couldn’t get the scarab to work so he created a lot of inventions that did the work for him.  Charlton got bought up by DC Comics in the 1980s* and Blue Beetle became a more or less comedic hero when he was teamed with his new best friend and fellow perpetual third-string hero, Booster Gold. 

Blue and Gold did fairly well in its day but that day passed and so did Ted Kord.  Enter Jaime Reyes as the new Blue Beetle, Jaime actually did get the scarab to work and that’s as up-to-date as I’m going to get as there is no way in hell I will willing read current-year DC Comics. 

On to the movie. 

The fundamental issue with this movie is that it really doesn’t know why Jaime should be a superhero. He’s a hard-working kid from a working-class LATINO family, and he’s frustrated that his pre-law degree has opened exactly zero doors for him.  Well no shit Jaime, if you wanted to make money with a bachelor’s degree you should have picked petroleum engineering. So now he’s working for the Kord family as a servant I think, or something.  It doesn’t matter he got shitcanned within minutes anyway. 

So, Ted Kord’s sister (Susan Sarandon) has taken over Kord Industries and is using the Scarab to science-magic some mecha suits into working.  Ted is missing BTW. Ted’s daughter Jenny steals the Scarab and passes it to Jamie when he awkwardly hits on her while asking her for a job. 

Jaime takes it home and shows it off to his FAMILIA and the scarab decides it’s found its new guyver pilot.  Jaime is now the Blue Beetle.   

But why does Jaime need to be a hero? 

Part of why this film is so narratively unsatisfying is that Jaime doesn’t fit any of the heroic archetypes. He’s a nice guy but he’s not nice enough to be an Aspirational, he isn’t paying back any kind of debt so he’s not a Redemptive, obviously not a Detective, or an Outlaw. He’s just been stuck with this awesome power and wants to get rid of it. Okay, the refusal works for a Hero’s Journey but he doesn’t take the journey. 

The biggest stumbling block this film has is Jaime’s family. They are only there because baizou liberals have heard that FAMILIA is super important to brown people so they have an outsized presence in this flick at the expense of the story.   

They probably should have focused on the romance between Jaime and Jenny. Go with the standard; they are strongly attracted but separated by boundaries of class. He’s from a poor, working-class family and she is from the globe-trotting .001%. He has no place in her world and the power dynamic of the relationship is dead against him. Jenny wants to believe love can overcome everything but Jaime knows better. Also, a boy has never told her NO, before and it’s making Jenny want him all the more. But then the Scarab chooses Jaime, which drastically changes the power dynamic of the relationship since he has done the one thing her billionaire father never could. He needs, not just her resources but, her sense of moral prudence to be the best superhero he can be. 

Instead, the movie went with what I am having to call, “Latino fan service.” It really did feel like the movie was being peppered with memberberries for the benefit of people who are fans of Latinos. Not Latino’s themselves you understand just their Baizou fans.  

“’Member abuela?” 

“Oh yeah, I ‘member.” 

“’Member Mexican soap operas and tacos?” 

“Yeah, yeah, I ‘member.” 

“’Member George Lopez?” 


George Lopez played Uncle Rudy and the movie also had no idea what to do with Uncle Rudy. He was clearly supposed to be a tinfoil hat-wearing conspiracy theory nut but one who is really good at magical computer bullshit. The problem is you can’t buy George Lopez as being anywhere near that smart because the only character he can play is George Lopez. The film needed to do a little prep work for the audience showing him doing something… you know… smart. Instead, the first indication that he has superbrains is when he shuts down Kord Industries’ security grid with some homemade EMP device that has to be carried around in the bed of his tarted-out Tacoma. Also, he can get anything to work by kicking or punching it in the right place which is more of a Fonzie thing than Neo from the matrix. 

This flick deliberately leaned into zany humor but it just fell flat. Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern did a better job. 

There were two bad guys, Susan Sarandon was Jenny’s aunt who is bitter because her father left her brother Kord Industries despite the fact that she and her dad built it together. Just because she’s a woman! And not at all because she’s an evil psychopath who shouldn’t be let anywhere near the strings of power. The other is Latino OMAC, he’s the muscle who has an evil guyver suit. 

Susan Sarandon didn’t just phone it in, she telegrammed it in. Sarandon can do over-the-top villainous, she was obviously having a ball as the evil queen in Enchanted However, She clearly felt she was too good to act in this movie. This was nothing but a paycheck for her. 

Latino OMAC eventually remembers that everything that went wrong in his life was Ronald Reagan’s fault so he stops trying to kill Jaime and kills Susan Sarandon instead. 

The film closes with a block party in the hood that Jenny is invited to in part because she’s proven she’s a good rich liberal but mostly because she’s half Brazillian. 

There was a mid-credit scene where we find out that Ted Kord is still alive and that won’t matter in the least because even with a super low budget of $100 million this thing is still not going to get into the black. Blue Beetle is clearly another DC dead-end. 

In summary: The Blue Beetle was an unambitious movie that could have been a lot better if there had been any heart put into it at all. I was expecting something about as good as (the rather underappreciated) Mystery Men. A movie like this depends on you falling in love with the characters and you just couldn’t because they were all cardboard cutouts. This film was boring but at least it didn’t take too long. It says so much about the current state of superhero movies that I almost gave this thing a better rating because of that small courtesy.


The Dark Herald Does Not Recommend The Blue Beetle

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*Nite Owl in The Watchmen was obviously a Blue Beetle substitution. 

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