By Amelia Orozco, Hola America News
Time and again, Latino families pull together in both the good times and bad. In DC Universe’s latest film adaptation of Blue Beetle, this concept is portrayed perfectly by a cast of Latinos surely to be relatable to many households, not just Latinos. The film is set to be released in U.S. theaters and worldwide on August 18, 2023.
Xolo Maridueña plays Jaime Reyes, the Blue Beetle, the first Latino superhero of the DC Universe, along with a cast of actors that quickly bonded and became a family on set. There is a particular chaotic scene that actress Belissa Escobedo (“American Horror Stories”) says, “Our incredible and phenomenal director, Angel [Soto], just let us run wild, he was just like ‘go,’ and we did and it was so much fun, and it was all that chaos that would ensue in a Latino family,” said Escobedo, who plays the main character’s younger sister.
The character of Jaime Reyes is the third individual to take on the powers of Blue Beetle. “The original Beetle was an archaeologist named Dan Garrett, who discovered an ancient Scarab in an old Egyptian tomb that gave him superpowers which he used to fight crime.” (www.dc.com). Jaime Reyes is a teenager from El Paso, Texas who is looking for meaning in his life when he finds the Scarab, and it chooses him to be the next Blue Beetle.
Blue Beetle is written by Gareth Dunnet Alcocer, originally from Guanajuato, Mexico, directed by Angel Manuel Soto, a native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, and stars a cast of other Latinos such as Damian Alcazar (“Narcos”), Raoul Max Trujillo (the “Sicario” films), Javier “Harvey” Guillen (“What We Do in the Shadows”), Adriana Barraza (“Thor”), Bruna Marquezine (“Maldivas”), and actor/comedian, George Lopez, who plays the main character’s uncle. Academy-award-winning actress Susan Sarandon also stars in the film.
This is the first time both Blue Beetle and Xolo Maridueña have made their debut on the big screen. Blue Beetle was first introduced by DC in 1939. As for Maridueña, he has been acting since he was ten years old (“Parenthood”), and has made a name for himself as Miguel Diaz in Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” series. Surprisingly, the twenty-one-year-old Maridueña is a down-to-earth and congenial guy. His mom was backstage when he appeared on The Trevor Noah Show, where he also related how he has maintained his same core group of friends over the years. You can find him on TikTok making wacky videos and just having the best time of his life (@xolo_mariduena).
Already, there have been some comparisons to Black Panther and the cultural impact it can have because Blue Beetle is the first superhero who is Mexican-American. As Susan Sarandon shared on The Tonight Show, “What’s fabulous about it, it’s the first LatinX hero that has his own movie. Even better…because his family is Mexican and all the actors were Mexican or Mexican-American,” she added. The film was originally slated for HBO Max before Warner Bros. picked it up for production for the big screen. This is a great opportunity for DC to mend tensions with Hispanic fans who were disappointed by DC’s attempt in 2022 to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month by creating covers with their superheroes holding or eating street food like tacos. Some fans expressed how the portrayal of these heroes was tone-deaf.
Illustrator Jorge Molina had created a Green Lantern cover of the hero holding a large green flag in one hand that reads “Viva Mexico!! and a lantern in the other hand. But the image that was reported to be released showed the superhero holding a bucket of tamales instead of a lantern. DC Comics told CNN that the Green Lantern cover featuring the tamales was not the official cover. The final version by Molina was then released on September 20, 2022.
These are all positive signs for change, including the debut of Blue Beetle in theaters with characters even little Latinos can look up to. It’s an action-packed ride, emphasized by Bobby Krlic’s powerful soundtrack and a charismatic cast that portrays the struggles and triumphs inside a Latino home with the underlying universal theme of love and the power of family.