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Review: ‘Blue Beetle’ is uninspired superhero mimicry


Review: ‘Blue Beetle’ is uninspired superhero mimicry


Tell me if you’ve seen this before: An ordinary young man somehow obtains superpowers—and good thing because there’s a bad guy (or gal in this case), so he has to learn to control his powers, there are epic fight scenes, and when it seems like our hero is about to lose, it’s the love of family that gives him strength to pull through. Oh, and he randomly meets a young woman with supermodel looks who happens to be connected to the conflict, and—don’t gasp now—there’s a spark between them.

Scott McDaniel, assistant professor of journalism at Franklin College.

That’s “Blue Beetle”—a new DC adventure that didn’t need to be made.

What I mean is—if you’ve seen superhero movies, and there are plenty of them, you’ve probably seen this story already.

Beyond its formulaic structure, the backstory also doesn’t make a lot of sense; an alien scarab device has come to earth, and when it chooses a host, it grants that person powers in what’s arguably the most frightening superhero transformation you’ll see. But why? Why choose him? Why is the scarab there to begin with? What’s its motivation?

The same goes for Victoria Kord, the villain played by Susan Sarandon. She’s the leader of yet another powerful corporation with seemingly infinite resources, wanting nothing but power and world domination, blah, blah, blah—but the award-winning actress feels wasted, the character so one-note, barely developed beyond that tired motive.

Speaking of the cast, our hero Jaime Reyes is played by Xolo Maridueña from “Cobra Kai”—and from the start, he’s a wild overactor. Chill with the intense eye contact, bro.

There are legitimately funny parts in the movie, led by Uncle Rudy (George Lopez), whose one-liners and comedic timing are terrific. But he’s also one of the least believable characters, who conveniently has the random technical skills the writers needed to move the plot from point A to point B.

While my list of frustrations is long, what I do appreciate is that “Blue Beetle” is the first Latino superhero in a DC movie. I love that the story has a tight-knit Mexican-American family at its center. And while I’m happy to see more diversity in these blockbusters, it’s the only thing that makes “Blue Beetle” different from so many others like it. It doesn’t hold a candle to the “Spiderverse” movies, which have the Afro-Latino Miles Morales as their hero—but also stories that are uniquely amazing.

I love superhero movies, and it’s not that “Blue Beetle” is a bad one—to its credit, it pulls away from the source material that traces back to a 1939 comic, attempting to have a fresh start. The problem is, it doesn’t feel fresh because it’s the same recycled superhero plots and cliches, with a more diverse cast.

FOOTNOTE: Scott is an assistant professor of journalism at Franklin College. He lives in Bargersville with his wife and three kids.


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