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Blue Beetle: A Likable if Generic Superhero Movie with One Big Flaw

Blue Beetle is a perfectly pleasant if generic superhero movie, but the passive hero is a strange mistake the screenplay makes in the story

Article Summary

  • 'Blue Beetle' is a familiar origin story akin to a Latino Iron Man.
  • Screenplay falters with a hero that has no agency and just reacts.
  • Jaime, the lead, is overshadowed by more compelling family members.
  • The film excels when focusing on the immigrant family's narrative.

I finally decided to stream Blue Beetle over the weekend since I was too busy to catch it when it was first released. It's the most likable and coherent of all the 2023 superhero movies, though I liked The Marvels just fine. The problem is this movie is a way too familiar and generic superhero origin story, sort of a working-class Latino version of Iron Man, and superhero fatigue is about how the films all feel the same now, and without novelty, the genre is dying from audiences getting bored. The biggest flaw is in the screenplay: the hero is completely passive throughout the whole story.

New Blue Beetle Trailer Teases A Reluctant Hero Plus 4
© 2023 Warner Bros. Ent. All Rights Reserved. TM & © DC. Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures/™ & © DC Comics. XOLO MARIDUEÑA as Blue Beetle in Warner Bros. Pictures' action adventure "BLUE BEETLE," a Warner Bros. Pictures release.

A Superhero Should Never be Passive

The script of Blue Beetle fails at basic Superhero 101 – the scarab happens to Jaime; he never makes any real decisions and just reacts to stuff that happens to him. He gets the suit because his sister (Belissa Escobedo) messes with the scarab. When he gets the suit for the first time, he causes massive property damage when basic Save the Cat 101 for superhero origins says he should at least save someone – every Marvel DC comic first issue used to do that. Then he gets kidnapped by the bad guys, and the vision of his dad says the universe has chosen him to be a hero – WHY? – he's a nice guy but not exceptional in any way; the only reason he might be chosen is that the Scarab seems compatible with his biology. And even at the end, it's the scarab AI that stops him from killing the bad guy out of kindness, not his decision. All of these are easy fixes with just a quick rewrite, but nobody at Warners or MAX gave these notes? That oversight is surprising.

The Title Character Should Never Be a Supporting Character in Their Own Story

Blue Beetle is a perfectly likable movie, and Xolo Maridueña is an appealing star, but the rest of the Reyes family are more interesting characters than Jaime. The only one who's actually proactive and heroic is his grandmother (Adriana Barraza), followed by his father (Damian Alcazar) and George Lopez as his uncle. The rest of the Reyes family is funnier and more interesting than Jaime is. Jaime is totally underwritten as a character, let alone a hero. He's a supporting character in a movie that's supposed to be about him. It would have been a more interesting movie if it wasn't a superhero or Blue Beetle movie but a comedy-thriller about an immigrant Latino family with revolutionary roots fighting an evil tech corporation, which might have been what director Angel Manuel Soto was really interested in making. The movie got a lot more interesting when it leaned into that part of the story.

Blue Beetle is a pleasant enough watch on MAX, but the screenplay's fundamental mistake in making its hero passive and not an agent in his own story is a strange mistake that seems to indicate that many screenwriters have forgotten. A passive main character is often used in indie and European arthouse movies as a literary device to see the world of the film, but not for genre movies.

Blue Beetle is streaming on MAX.

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Adi TantimedhAbout Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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