Blue Beetle is finally hitting theaters! And there’s a lot to get excited about. But if we’re going to be honest, this terrific DC character just hasn’t got the right amount of due that his more famous DC compatriots, like Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and Aquaman have received. In fact there are many that are unfamiliar with the character’s history. But the truth of the matter is, the Blue Beetle is actually a really fascinating character. And the most current iteration, Jaime Reyes, who will be making his big screen debut in the new film, is perhaps the best version of the character yet. And we’re here to tell you why he’s the best suited hero to lead audiences into the new era of DC Studios; James Gunn’s DCU!
Let’s back up a bit. First off, with the DCEU coming to an end, and the DCU becoming a reality with Gunn’s Superman: Legacy coming in 2025, the status of what universe Blue Beetle would be part of was a big question after the new universe plans were unveiled. Thankfully, Gunn clarified on the Inside of You podcast that Jaime Reyes would be the first new character of the DCU, even if Blue Beetle is not the first full DCU film (Superman: Legacy will be). And after seeing the film, we can honestly say this is a terrific idea.
But let’s back up even further! You’re probably wondering who even is Blue Beetle? Why is he the best choice for the first new hero of the DCU? Well let’s start with humble origins. Blue Beetle is actually a superhero mantle passed down from three generations of heroes. The first Blue Beetle, Dan Garret debuted in August 1939, and was a vigilante son of a murdered police officer with a bulletproof costume, who fought crime with superhuman strength and stamina thanks to a substance called “Vitamin 2X.” Later in the Silver Age, the hero was rebooted as an archeologist named Dan Garrett (two “t’s”) who gained superpowers including strength, flight, and energy blasts from a scarab he found on an archeological dig, after saying the magic words “Kaji Dha!”
Once the character was acquired by DC Comics, the mantle of the Blue Beetle then passed down to a former student of Garrett’s called Ted Kord, an inventor and athlete, after Garrett died in battle. Unfortunately the powers from the scarab were unable to be passed down to Kord. Instead Kord used his ingenuity and skills to invent brilliant gadgets and fight crime. He was unfortunately killed by villain Maxwell Lord during the Countdown to Infinite Crisis storyline.
And that’s when Jaime Reyes came into the picture. The scarab, given to Kord for safekeeping after Garrett’s death, was discovered in El Paso, TX by Reyes. After Kord’s best friend, Booster Gold, goes to retrieve the scarab, he and Reyes find that the scarab has fused with Jaime’s spine, and endowed him with a completely different set of powers than Garrett. And from there, a new legend was born!
But Reyes’s earnestness and innocence made him an ideal candidate for the mantle, and a worthy choice for the scarab Kaji Dha to choose. And as such, we believe he’s the strongest character, and this film is the strongest one, to start out the new DCU. Here’s a top 10 list of reasons why:
- A Fresh Start Deserves a Fresh Face
As you may have picked up on, the mythos behind the Blue Beetle character is quite convoluted. When Jaime Reyes debuted in Infinite Crisis it was an opportunity for a bit of a fresh start for the character, with a more interesting backstory. In many ways DC Studios and the Gunn/Safran era of DC movies is a fresh start in and of itself too. So you don’t need to delve into the convoluted backstory of archaeologists and their proteges. You simply need to introduce audiences to Jaime and the rest of the backstory writes itself. It’s a great gateway character into the character but also into the universe, given he’s new to the hero gig.
- No Pre-Existing Ties to the DCEU
Blue Beetle has not at all been mentioned or referenced in any of the previous DCEU films. As such this is a character that can work as a one-shot or a character that can be part of the new era of DC Studios, no strings attached. The movie and the character stand on their own, and it allows for many fun and ambitious opportunities to build upon the universe in ways that are suitable for either a franchise reboot or a separate series all together.
- Xolo Maridueña is a Bright, Engaging Star
Having a familiar and engaging face to kick off your franchise is the right way to go. And since the face of Ezra Miller is anything but, it’s refreshing to have an actor like Maridueña instead, who is actually a lot more endearing a significantly less problematic. To have Maridueña and his everyman, underdog persona usher in the new era of DC makes it easier to connect to this universe through a warm and welcoming face for audiences to relate to, like his.
- Jaime Reyes’ Innocence and Moral Center
Jaime Reyes is a good character, and one with a strong and terrific sense of justice. His qualities resemble those of Peter Parker. And you need a character with that sense of morality and humanity to grow with. To start a franchise with the makings of a strong character arc, like what Blue Beetle does with Jaime Reyes is smart because it gives fans a character to love, but also to watch that sense of morality and justice evolve with the character as he becomes more experienced. He will be a terrific protege for characters like Batman and Superman as the franchise develops.
- Good World Building
With the mythology of the Blue Beetle being introduced, it’s very easy to set up the greater DC Universe that lies ahead of us. The scarab’s origins are extraterrestrial, allowing for the franchise to dive into the cosmic aspects of the DCU. The power set and fantastical elements prevent the franchise from alienating the fun and magical comic book elements that, say, Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy did. And knowing that Batman and other characters exist, but without reference to which variants of these characters exist in the world suggest a larger universe that can fit into any retcon the studio plans to accomplish. It works without having to try significantly hard to tie things together, but also allows for more that can be done in this universe.
- The Blue Beetle Mythology Can Still be Explored
This may be contradictory to item #1, but even though it’s a convoluted backstory, the Blue Beetle mythology is still an interesting one. And starting with Jaime Reyes means you can bring in Ted Kord and Dan Garrett later on. That means there’s a lot of material there for the Beetle family to expand in interesting and fun ways. So I guess you can explore the convoluted nature, but after you toe-dip with a new start like Jaime Reyes.
- The Collection of Characters Will Help with Crossovers
The Reyes family is nothing if not simply endearing. And with a new version of this universe starting up you’ll need endearing familiar characters to make appearances in different mediums to assist with connecting everything together. Lucky for Jaime Reyes he has a whole family of endearing characters that can help with that. To see George Lopez’s Uncle Rudy help with fixing the Batmobile would be a real treat for fans. And to see references to Kord Industries within the DCU will help establish the universe with familiar quirky characters all over it!
- Technology That Could Unify the DCU
With Kord Industries being a potential prominent figure in the DCU, the movie also introduces other types of technology such as the OMAC suits that could be utilized as major threats within the DCU. What if the DCU introduces Brother Eye as the next step to build on the OMAC subplot. What if Ted Kord’s technology as the Blue Beetle also inspires Bruce Wayne’s gadgets in this universe? The possibilities are endless.
- The Tone is Perfect for the DCU
Jaime’s sense of humor, as well as the tone of the film, is a perfect balance of light and hopeful, but also dramatic enough to take seriously without indulging in cynical doom and gloom. That was the biggest issue with the DCEU. It was way too dark and self-serious. Especially with Zack Snyder at the helm of the movies that kicked off that universe. Blue Beetle is not that. But it’s also not goofy either. It sets the right tone for how this universe can be handled.
- It’s Just a Good Movie with Good Characters
You can’t start a franchise off on a bad foot. That’s been the mistake several shared universes have attempted (remember Universal’s Dark Universe and The Mummy (2007)). They get so concerned with creating future installments they don’t even focus on making the first one good. Batman V. Superman did this. Amazing Spider-Man 2 did this. But with Blue Beetle it’s actually a very solid, very impressively good film with a lot of heart. It’s not concerned with setting up a franchise. Just creating good characters and heartfelt moments. Mission accomplished!
Blue Beetle hits theaters August 18th!