Blue Beetle is making the jump to the big screen in 2023.
The movie stars Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes, an overworked hotel employee. One day Jaime brings home a mysterious blue scarabm only for it to become fused with his spine, unlocking a suit of armor and a new set of powers.
Warner Brothers released the first trailer on April 3rd, giving a preview to the cast and Blue Beetle’s cgi-armor look.
While this is Blue Beetle’s first real film, the comic book character has a long history, with multiple characters wearing that mantle. Jaime is the most popular and for good reason. He revitalized the character as a fresh teen hero relatable to the audience. The end result is this film, which is also the first superhero movie led by a Latino main character.
Who is the Blue Beetle?Jaime Reyes is the third person to go by the name Blue Beetle.
Dan Garrett, the first, gained his power from a blue Scarab he found in an archaeological dig. Next, in the 1950s, DC retooled the character. Garett mentored a college student named Ted Kord. When Garett tragically passed on, Kord took up his mantle. The Scarab never bonded with him, so he used his tech company Kord Industries to fight crime.
Kord is important because DC made major changes to the Blue Beetle mythology. Blue Beetle existed as a cult hit before that point, but Kord brought the bug mainstream. He joined the Justice League team, which revitalized comics at the time.
The writers often partnered Kord with Booster Gold, a character who frequently dragged Kord into his get-rich-quick schemes or attempts at show-boating.
Then came 2005, and the comic book crossover Infinite Crisis, the long-awaited sequel to Crisis on Infinite Earths. While working on Countdown to Infinite Crisis, Dan Didio made the decision to kill off Ted Kord. He believed recent storyline, like struggling with weight loss and a heart condition, signaled the character was past his prime.
While tracking down his lost fortunes, Kord discovered a former ally Maxell Lord was plotting against the JLI. Didio gave the character one final heroic moment: he died refusing to be a part of Maxwell’s schemes.
After Kord’s death, Jaime succeeded him in Infinite Crisis.
How Did Jaime Reyes Change the Blue Beetle Mythos?
Jaime Reyes came from a plan to diversify the DC Universe in the early 2000s. In a Facebook post, Dan Didio stated he envisioned a younger, Hispanic boy, more in line with Spider-Man, for the new Blue Beetle.
Didio tasked Keith Giffen, a writer who made Ted Kord a cult hit, with this new character. Giffen is responsible for naming him Jaime Reyes and moving him from New York to El Paso. He also changed the lore surrounding the Scarab into something more science fiction-inspired. In his version, the Scarab is actually a piece of alien technology.
Jaime debuted in Infinite Crisis as a jumping-off point of his solo series. In Issue #5 he made his first costumed appearance helping out Batman, while Blue Beetle #1 continued his story one year after the events of Infinite Crisis.
Who is Jaime Reyes?As stated above, Jaime’s origins are more in line with the likes of Spider-Man than other DC heroes. There’s no tragic backstory or call to action. Instead, Jaime got his powers by complete chance.
Jaime starts as just a normal kid living in El Paso with his father, mother, and little sister. In fact, his biggest conflict is wanting to help his father work overtime at his garage job.
The night his father finally agrees to let him, Jaime disappears for an entire year.
This is due to Jaime finding the Scarab, of course. The technology becomes fused with his spine and gifts him with an armored exoskeleton to protect Jaime from any danger. After fighting in Infinite Crisis, he wakes up naked in the desert with one year of missing memories.
His origin emphasizes Jaime is a normal, Hispanic teenager who got his powers by chance. Unlike most heroes, his parents are still alive. Jaime is not out to save the world. Instead, he uses his powers to help out his community.
Friendly Neighborhood Blue Bugman
Jaime never ventures far from his hometown. After he returns to El Paso, the story focuses on Jaime’s day-to-day life.
Whereas traditionally most heroes keep their identities a secret from their family, Jaime’s family is a part of his life both as a hero and a kid. Unable to explain his whereabouts for the past year, he just tells his family that he is Blue Beetle.
What makes Blue Beetle unique is its cast. In most stories the focus is on the hero. Everyone else is a side character. To a degree that’s expected in most stories. However, Jaime’s family and friends share an equal amount of screen time with him.
Jaime’s father is struggling with an employee at his garage whose addiction gets him in trouble with the wrong people. His friend Paco rolls with a group of metahumans known as the posse to assist Jaime. Brenda, his other friend, discovers she is the niece of the mob boss La Dama. His mother is a paramedic who helps save some of the people Jaime rescues.
The story is about all of them together, not just Jaime.
The ReachEven Jaime’s enemy, the Reach, emphasizes Jaime’s nature as an everyman hero. For one thing, Jaime is the opposite of a chosen one. The Scarab is actually an alien weapon manufactured by the Reach, a race of alien conquerors. These aliens seeded the earth with their technology to help take over the planet once it evolved.
This means Jaime’s powers come from a weapon meant to conquer the earth, not save it.
The Scarab’s purpose is to bond with a human and turn them into a Reach infiltrator. They would become Earth’s protector, while secretly allowing the reach to influence the planet. When the invasion proper began, the infiltrator would turn sides.
However, this plan failed when the Scarab’s AI became damaged, causing it to forget its original purpose. Jaime often argues with the AI who bonded with him, which often recommends more violent measures against villains.
Still, his difficult relationship with the AI eventually turns into a friendship. This allows the AI to name itself “Khaji-Da” and turn against the Reach.
Jaime is not the chosen one. He bonded with the Scarab by accident. However, some random kid managed to overcome the plans of a race of galactic conqueror through his determination, and the bond he formed with Khaji-Da. This emphasizes again the good a normal person can do.
The Popularity of Blue BeetleAfter retooling Blue Beetle to be more relatable, it’s no surprise that Jaime Reyes gained positive reception from a wider audience. After his original solo series, he became a part of the larger DC universe, even joining the Teen Titans. The character also received two additional new solo series.
In the rebirth continuity, Ted Kord is alive once more. Here, Ted is an unsuccessful hero who retired to run Kordtech. Kord meets Jaime when he comes to him for help removing the Scarab from his spine. Afterward, he became a mentor acting as mission control for his superhero work. This version of Jaime balances high school, heroics, and an internship at Kordtech.
Jaime is also a character in the cartoon Young Justice. The second season, Young Justice: Invasion adapts the Reach story arc from his solo comics. Here, they first appear on Earth by pretending to be allies to lay the groundwork for their invasion. The story also features other users of the Scarab armor, expanding the mythos.
Jaime also appears with the Teen Titans in two animated original movies: Justice League vs. Teen Titans and Teen Titans: The Judas Contract. With the character’s popularity, it seemed inevitable a film for the DC Extended Universe would be greenlit. Indeed, it was.
Blue Beetle on the Big ScreenAny comic-book adaptation will make changes to fit on the big screen. However, so far, the trailer seems faithful to the spirit of Jaime’s comic-book story.
For example, Jaime’s family is featured heavily in the first trailer. In fact, in the trailer his family witnesses him change into Blue Beetle,
As reported by Collider, during a Q&A Session lead Actor Xono commented on the importance of family for Jaime’s character.
“That part of things, making everything canon, is a very exciting part of the process. I got to come in during pre-production and help carve out who Jaime is, as a character. I was really grateful that Angel gave me a lot of liberties, in terms of trusting me, as a performer. Jaime feels so honest. Although we’re telling this larger than life story, it felt really easy, especially with the help of the family, to get those moments. Our rehearsal days weren’t getting the lines right. It was talking as a family.
The film also ages Jaime from high school age to a recent college graduate. He is living in the fictional Palmera City rather than El Paso. A new character named Victoria Kord is played by Susan Sarandon in the film. This suggests that Ted Kord may appear in the film in some way or another, as Victoria is Ted’s sister in the comics.
Where to Begin with Blue Beetle?Jaime Reyes is one of DC’s unique heroes. He made a splash when he rewrote the lore of the already cult-classic Blue Beetle series. He worked as a natural successor to the Ted Kord-era, drawing in a whole new audience for the character.
What makes Jaime special is that he’s so utterly normal. He’s a kid with parents who don’t cut him any slack just because he’s a superhero. The series’ choice to focus on his home life makes him unique among heroes. What Jaime chooses to fight for is his family, his friends, and his community.
The creators of the film also seem eager to bring the character’s canon to the big screen.
This leaves us with where to start if you are personally looking to learn more about the character before the movie. While Jaime debuts in Infinite Crisis, the best place to start is issue #1 of his first solo series Blue Beetle (2006). However, if you want something more in line with the current movie, DC is releasing two tie-in miniseries.
Blue Beetle: Graduation Day is a six-issue mini-series taking place after Jaime graduated high school. The series depicts Jaime taking a gap year between high school and college. In this story, Jaime once again deals with the Reach and various other alien species. Ted Kord returns from the rebirth comics, and he finds a new mentor in Starfire.
DC also announced the launch of a new Blue Beetle series in September of 2023. This is a part of the Dawn of the DC Universe initiative and picks up right where Graduation Day left off. You could pick up either of these and enjoy them, because every comic is someone’s first comic.