Blue Beetle Explained: Who Is DC's Newest Cinematic Hero?
Another long-standing DC hero is making the jump to the big screen in 2023. The Blue Beetle movie stars Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes, an ordinary teen who finds himself bonded to one of the most powerful artifacts in the DC Universe.
With Blue Beetle hitting theaters in August 2023, now is the time to brush up on the character’s long and surprisingly complicated history. These are the topics we cover here:
- Who Is Jaime Reyes, aka Blue Beetle?
- Blue Beetle’s Comic Book Origin
- Blue Beetle’s Powers and Abilities
- Blue Beetle’s Superhero Legacy
- Blue Beetle’s Movie Debut
Who Is Jaime Reyes, aka Blue Beetle?
Jaime Reyes is the third hero to call himself the Blue Beetle. Once an ordinary teenager from El Paso, TX, Jaime was inducted into a larger universe when the Blue Beetle scarab fused itself to his spine. This alien artifact gave him incredible powers, which Jaime uses to protect his family and the entire world from all manner of threats. Whether alone or fighting alongside groups like the Teen Titans, Blue Beetle is a powerful force for good, even if his scarab initially has darker motives.
Whether alone or fighting alongside groups like the Teen Titans, Blue Beetle is a powerful force for good, even if his scarab initially has darker motives.
Blue Beetle’s Comic Book Origin
While the Blue Beetle character dates all the way back to 1939, Jaime Reyes himself didn’t come along until 2006. He was introduced in 2006’s Infinite Crisis #6, shortly after the death of the previous Blue Beetle, Ted Kord.
Jaime unwittingly becomes the new Blue Beetle when he discovers the scarab and brings it home, only to have it fuse to his spine while sleeping. This rookie hero plays an important role in the events of Infinite Crisis, helping the Justice League track down and destroy the rogue satellite Brother Eye.
Jaime quickly embraces his new role as a teen superhero, with his story continuing in the pages of the monthly Blue Beetle comic. Unlike characters like Spider-Man, he makes no effort to hide his secret identity from his parents. Not that he has much choice, as one of Jaime’s early adventures causes him to spend an entire year away from Earth. It’s hard to come up with a cover story for something like that.
The new Blue Beetle quickly develops a rogues gallery of his own, battling various villains in service of the crime boss La Dama. He also comes into conflict with the Reach, an alien race who oppose the Green Lantern Guardians and who created the scarab in the first place. The scarab is revealed to be part of the Reach’s plot to invade Earth, though due to its growing bond with Jaime it eventually develops a mind and personality of its own and breaks free of its programming. It even has a name - Khaji Da.
Though DC eventually canceled the Blue Beetle series in 2009, Jaime continued to play a role in books like Teen Titans and Justice League: Generation Lost. He also went on to star in two more short-lived monthly series in 2011 and 2016. The latter revamped the Blue Beetle mythos by more closely tying Jaime to his predecessor, Ted Kord, and revealing the scarab to be magical in origin rather than extraterrestrial.
Blue Beetle’s Powers and Abilities
As Blue Beetle, Jaime Reyes is easily among the most powerful of DC’s teen heroes, with his suit’s abilities limited only by his lack of experience and confidence. The scarab can summon a full bodysuit at will, greatly increasing Jaime’s strength and durability. The suit can also transform itself, summoning all manner of weaponry like energy cannons, blades and shields. The suit also generates energy wings that grant Jaime both flight and added protection. On top of all of this, the Blue Beetle suit can manipulate energy and vibration to neutralize magic and make invisible objects visible.
Again, Jaime’s own inexperience is the greatest hindrance to his powers, and early on he struggles to bond with the scarab and realize his true potential. But over time, the two become a unified fighting force. In emergencies, Jaime can even activate “infiltrator mode,” which allows the scarab to take control of the suit and dispatch enemies with brutal efficiency. Picture Spider-Man’s “Instant-Kill” scene from Avengers: Endgame and you’ll get the idea.
Dan Garrett and Ted Kord: Who Are the Other Blue Beetles?
While Jaime Reyes has been the main focus of DC’s Blue Beetle comics since his debut in 2006, the Blue Beetle franchise has a long history dating back to the early years of the comic book industry. And for much of that time, he wasn’t even a DC character.
Blue Beetle was originally created by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski in 1939’s Mystery Men Comics #1, published by Fox Comics. That version of the character is Dan Garret, a police officer who wears a bulletproof costume and takes a strength-enhancing drug called Vitamin 2X. The character proved popular enough to spin out into a radio serial.
After Fox Comics went out of business in the 1950’s, the Blue Beetle rights shifted to Charlton Comics. Charlton introduced a radically different version of Dan Garrett (now with two T’s) in 1964, reinventing the character as an archaeologist who discovers a mystical scarab that grants him superhuman abilities.
Charlton revamped Blue Beetle again in 1966, replacing Dan Garrett with Ted Kord. A student of Garrett’s, Kord is a brilliant inventor who takes up the mantle after Garrett’s death. He relies on his gadgets rather than the scarab to fight crime.
Charlton Comics eventually went bankrupt itself, with DC acquiring the rights to Blue Beetle and other characters like Captain Atom and The Question in 1983. These characters were integrated into the DC Universe following the events of 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. The Ted Kord Blue Beetle joins the Justice League, paving the way for his iconic partnership with Booster Gold and playing a key role in the DCU up until his death in 2005’s Countdown to Infinite Crisis.
It’s also worth pointing out that Blue Beetle is the main inspiration for Watchmen’s Nite Owl. The elder Nite Owl, Hollis Mason, is loosely based on the Golden Age Dan Garret, while the younger Nite Owl, Dan Dreiberg, is a riff on Ted Kord.
Blue Beetle’s Movie Debut
Jaime Reyes quickly branched out into various animated DC projects following his comic book debut, appearing in both shows like Young Justice and Justice League Action and films like Teen Titans: The Judas Contract and Justice League Dark Apokolips War. He even had a live-action appearance in Smallville, where he was played by Jaren Brandt.
But only now is Blue Beetle appearing in a live-action film. The Blue Beetle movie stars Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes, Bruna Marquezine as his love interest, Penny, Belissa Escobedo as his sister Milagros, George Lopez as his Uncle Rudy and Raoul Trujillo as the villain Carapax the Indestructible Man.
Following the example of DC’s New 52 comics, the movie appears to be downplaying the elder Blue Beetles and focusing solely on Jaime. However, we do know that Susan Sarandon is playing a character named Victoria Kord, so Ted Kord could still enter the picture at some point.
Blue Beetle Release Date
Blue Beetle was originally planned as a streaming exclusive on HBO Max. However, Warner Bros. Discovery shifted plans, and now Blue Beetle will be hitting theaters on August 18, 2023.
Blue Beetle Cast
The full cast for the Blue Beetle movie includes:
- Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes
- Bruna Marquezine as Penny
- Belissa Escobedo as Milagros Reyes
- George Lopez as Uncle Rudy
- Adriana Barraza as Nana
- Elpidia Carrillo as Rocio
- Damián Alcázar as Alberto
- Raoul Trujillo as Carapax the Indestructible Man
- Susan Sarandon as Victoria Kord
Is Blue Beetle Part of James Gunn's DCU
This has one of the biggest questions surrounding the Blue Beetle movie sicne it became clear James Gunn and Peter Safran are rebooting DC's cinematic universe. Is Blue Beetle part of the old DCEU, the new DCU, or neither? The new trailer acknolwedges the existence of Batman, but as of yet it's unclear which Batman is being referenced.
This vagueness seems to be the point. Blue Beetle is a standalone movie that could feasibly be taking place in one of many live-action DC universes. Much like Shazam! Fury of the Gods, there's nothing stopping Gunn from working Blue Beetle into his new DCU if that's what Gunn wants. It may all boil down to how well Blue Beetle does at the box office this summer.
Schedeen, J. (2023, April 3). Blue Beetle Explained: Who Is DC’s Newest Cinematic Hero? IGN Southeast Asia. https://sea.ign.com/blue-beetle-2016/197342/feature/blue-beetle-explained-who-is-dcs-newest-cinematic-hero