DC’s Fresh Hero: Mexican Grad’s Shocking Superpowers and Unbelievable Allies!

The DC cinematic universe has been longing for a savior, and it might have found one in a 22-year-old Mexican college graduate from a remarkable family background. After disappointing releases like “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” and “The Flash,” and a history of uneven success, the refreshing film “Blue Beetle” (rated PG-13; receiving three out of four stars; hitting theaters this Friday) emerges with a young superhero, portrayed by the talented Xolo Maridueña from “Cobra Kai.”

The movie offers a delightful immersion into Latin culture. While the storyline shares similarities with films such as “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” “Black Panther,” and even “Iron Man,” it brings a unique twist by including the protagonist’s parents and grandmother as part of his support system, in contrast to the typical inclusion of characters like Batman and Wonder Woman.

The narrative revolves around Jaime Reyes (played by Maridueña), who returns to his fictional hometown of Palmera City after completing his degree. His joy is short-lived as he learns that his parents, Rocio (Elpidia Carrillo) and Alberto (Damían Alcázar), are facing financial difficulties due to the forced gentrification by Kord Industries, a tech conglomerate led by the authoritative Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon).

A chance encounter with his benevolent cousin Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine) leads Jaime on an unexpected journey. Instead of a job interview, Jenny gifts him a brilliant blue scarab, an alien biotechnological artifact of immense value. Intriguingly, the scarab chooses Jaime as its host, granting him a powerful supersuit and incredible abilities.

“Blue Beetle” follows a storyline reminiscent of the Spider-Man comics, as Jaime grapples with his newfound powers, inadvertently causing chaos like slicing a bus in half and venturing into space. The entity within the scarab, Khaji-Da (voiced by Becky G), gradually educates him about his extraordinary new reality. Maridueña excels in portraying Jaime’s journey as he learns to be a superhero, effectively showcasing his strengths and vulnerabilities. The film elicits empathy for Jaime as his life takes a tumultuous turn, with Victoria relentlessly pursuing him to obtain the alien technology within him, dead or alive. The element of romantic interest is present, akin to Spider-Man’s character, adding a layer of humor and youthful emotions.

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DC’s lineup of supervillains has received mixed reviews recently, and Sarandon’s portrayal of Victoria stands out as a compelling antagonist. Described by Jaime’s sister Milagro (Belissa Escobedo) as possessing a “sexy in a Cruella Kardashian sort of way” vibe, Victoria aims to harness the scarab’s power to create an army of enhanced soldiers. This sinister plot involves her formidable right-hand man Carapax (Raoul Max Trujillo), who intriguingly has connections to the real-world controversial School of the Americas, attended by several notorious Latin American figures.

Jaime confronts Victoria with the unwavering support of his family, breaking away from the conventional trope of maintaining a secret identity. His grandmother (played by Oscar nominee Adriana Barraza) exhibits surprising proficiency with large weaponry, his sister adds humor with her witty remarks, and Uncle Rudy (an engaging George Lopez) contributes as a fast-talking character akin to Doc Brown, steeped in conspiracy theories. These beloved family members ground Jaime’s narrative and offer a crucial sense of representation.

With a liberating sense of humor to balance its darker aspects – Jaime’s transformation entails effective body horror – “Blue Beetle” masterfully interweaves vibrant characters with a subtly intricate comic book mythology, including Jenny’s missing father Ted Kord, the previous Blue Beetle.

Given the ongoing changes in the DC universe, including alterations to Superman and shifts in leadership, viewers can at least anticipate the inclusion of Jaime in the forthcoming reset.

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