Maybe we’ll be okay if this is what the rest of DC’s new shared cinematic universe looks and feels like…. just maybe…
Acting as a weird middle child in the transition from the old DCEU to whatever is coming next under James Gunn’s creative rule, Blue Beetle follows recent law school graduate Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) as he comes into possession of an alien artifact of untold power and untapped potential called the Scarab, the abilities of which almost immediately turn Jaime into the newest version of the superhero known as Blue Beetle. Soon drawn into a conflict with villainous forces wanting to take the Scarab for themselves, Jaime is helped along by his dysfunctional yet loving family as well as the daughter of the last Blue Beetle, Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine), all the while trying to figure out how to control his newly acquired exoskeleton suit that contains a whole slew of devastating energy-based offensive and defensive capabilities. Needing to save himself as well as the others he cares about before the Scarab is forcibly removed from him, Jaime must not only learn the how of becoming a hero but, most importantly, the why of it all, too.
Releasing a string of creative and financial misfires over the past few years as the fallout of Warner Bros. scuttling the Snyderverse crashes and burns mere feet from where it took off, Blue Beetle had everything and yet nothing to lose coming into this mess of a live-action universe. Taking the opportunity to simply be a movie only tangentially connected to narratives both ahead and behind it, this film manages to take a lot of its familiar origin story elements, genuinely exciting action scenes, much-appreciated beating heart, and immensely likable lead and turn it into something that, admittedly, won’t change your mind about the superhero genre if you’re feeling fatigued by it, but still delivers a perfectly capable and entertaining experience nonetheless.
That being said, this means that when Blue Beetle is good, it’s surprisingly solid, but when it’s anything less than that, it stumbles far more than I had hoped. From the almost slavish structured script trying to tell yet another origin story we’ve all seen before to a lackluster and forgettable villain to some head-scratching leaps in story logic that feel too comic book-y in execution, Blue Beetle still has issues to sort out, just thankfully not nearly as many as there could have been. As a bonus, it’s good to know that with the film’s lighter tone, most of the Joss Whedon Justice League-esque cringe moments were virtually absent from this one, signaling at least one positive step in the right direction for this cinematic universe moving forward.
So while the bar for the next iteration of DC Comics’ cinematic universe is still somewhat low after seeing this one, it’s at least at a respectable enough level to help get things started on the right foot as we march toward Superman: Legacy and the true rebirth of a new DCEU. Blue Beetle won’t wow anyone looking for something different in the superhero department, but with some fun action scenes, light and breezy tone, much-needed representation, and wholesome family elements, fans could do a lot worse.