‘Blue Beetle’ lags and frustrates but satisfies

Hey there, my fellow cinephiles and pop culture heads! Let’s talk about the latest superhero flick from the DC camp, “Blue Beetle.” This film serves those classic superhero origin story tropes we’ve seen time and time again and introduces a new face to the superhero genre.

Jaime, played by Xolo Maridueña leads as the titular character, “Blue Beetle.” Maridueña gives an amazing performance for what it’s worth, however, it was hard to get past the unoriginal storyline and multiple “L’s” this guy caused himself and his family. I was lowkey screaming at him throughout the entire film. It’s like the guy was allergic to common sense!

You’ve seen the story a zillion times – the hero gains superpowers, doesn’t want the powers, and is slow to use them until they lose a loved one and suddenly discover their purpose in life. In Jaime’s case, he’s got a beetle-shaped scarab that latches onto his spine, turning him into the titular character, Blue Beetle.

I expected Jaime to come out swinging, but in a nutshell, he’s not “ ’bout that life.” I wanted to tell him to let the Beetle do its JOB and to stop being so soft on the people who were actively trying to kill him and his family.

I get it; we want a film that showcases a hero with strong morals who can be a merciful role model, most studios aren’t really in the business of endorsing anti-heroes…yada yada. However, isn’t an impotent hero worse than a hero who would have immediately ended a threat to his family and the world at large? But. of course, if that had happened, we wouldn’t have had a two-hour long film to enjoy; it would have ended 45 minutes in.

And then there’s the runtime — an eye-glazing 2 hours, 7 minutes. This movie will be a challenge to sit through for some of us. (I’m raising my hand.) We all knew what was going to happen after the first 20 minutes; did we need to draw it out for two whole hours? Not even the comedic style of George Lopez could save this film from its bloated runtime.

As for staying true to the origins and narrative of the Blue Beetle character, I had to do some quick research myself. Blue Beetle’s been around since the 60s, and there have been a few different iterations. I can’t say I’m a Blue Beetle expert, but the film did seem to stay somewhat faithful to its comic book origins. And the departures it did make were great to see – more diversity and representation in the superhero world with the direction the film went in casting a nearly all-Latino / African-American cast.

In addition to the diverse casting, we’re also treated to a soundtrack that slaps. From Selena, Ivy Queen, Thalia, Cypress Hill, and Calle 13 (the list goes on), this soundtrack will firmly place you in Jamie Reyes’ world. The tracks played throughout the film push the film along and function as an authentic soundscape and auditory partner helping to connect us to the film’s milieu.

“Blue Beetle” brings us a solid dose of that superhero nostalgia, complete with the classic tropes we all know and (sometimes) love, a beautifully diverse cast, and a soundtrack that slaps. But Jaime could use a superhero boot camp to toughen up, and the movie could trim the fat on its runtime.

— Nickea Griffin Crepsac