Blue Beetle First Reviews: Packed with Heart, Humor, and a Star-Making Performance

Critics say it's an unapologetically earnest film with charm to spare and a standout ensemble, even if it's a familiar origin story that doesn't break the mold.

by | August 16, 2023 | Comments


While it seems like just another DC superhero movie, Blue Beetle stands alone and marks a potentially new offshoot from the usual extended-universe comic book fare. The movie stars Cobra Kai’s Xolo Maridueña as the titular Mexican-American superhero with Susan Sarandon hamming it up as the villain. According to the first reviews of Blue Beetle, it’s got a lot of heart, great Latino representation, and a star-making performance by its lead. However, while many reviews say it’s a good sign for DC movies to come, others do call it just more of the same.

Here’s what critics are saying about Blue Beetle:

Should fans be excited about Blue Beetle?

Blue Beetle is a film that earns a resounding grito.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“An enriching time at the movies. Blue Beetle might not break the mold, but it does break expectations.” – Robert Daniels,

“Finally, there’s Blue Beetle, a live-action superhero movie coming to theaters that is unapologetically full of life, joy, and fun. But don’t mistake it for fluff.” – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

“The emotional force behind the movie is enough to make it worth a watch.” – Alyssa Mora, IGN Movies

Blue Beetle is a much better movie than its August 18 release date might indicate.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“My hope is that the Latino community will turn out in droves to support such a great and deserving film.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Xolo Maridueña in Blue Beetle (2023)

(Photo by © Warner Bros.)

How does it hold up against other superhero movies?

“Fast, funny, and fervently earnest, Blue Beetle stands out in an increasingly overcrowded field of superhero movies.” – Alyssa Mora, IGN Movies

Blue Beetle stands apart from other films in the superhero genre by embracing family at its core by letting them in on the secret.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“The director and writer don’t exactly break the mold of the superhero film, but they do treat the genre with an endearing fondness for retro qualities that have mostly been lost in recent years. That makes Blue Beetle a breath of fresh air.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

“It has more heart and humor than most in this well-worn genre. That ought to count for something.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“Superhero fatigue is real, and it’ll only be exacerbated by Blue Beetle.” – Nick Schager, Daily Beast

Is it one of the better DC movies?

Blue Beetle is quite simply the best DC movie in years.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

“It’s one of the best introductions to a live-action DC superhero in recent memory.” – Tatiana Hullender, Screen Rant

Is it a familiar origin story?

“The combination of Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer’s screenplay and Ángel Manuel Soto’s direction elevate the material from the generic ‘we’ve seen this before’ to an emotional, familial tale highlighting the importance of family and culture.” – David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

“It elevates a somewhat familiar origin story by creating its own identity so hella Mexican American that if it were to be called anything else, it would be: ¡A huevo!” – Yolanda Machado, Entertainment Weekly

“Though it engages with a ‘chosen one’ storyline in a thoughtful, meaningful way, some of its other narrative construction isn’t as clever.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, the film is the laziest sort of mash-up.” – Nick Schager, Daily Beast

Xolo Maridueña in Blue Beetle (2023)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

What about the film’s themes?

Blue Beetle ingeniously sneaks in necessary, educational messaging through the back door… It’s a notably progressive film.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Director Ángel Manuel Soto and screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer slip in a steady stream of critical jabs at prejudice, income inequality, and militarization, as well as a lovely, cosmic moment of magical realism.” – Bob Strauss, San Francisco Chronicle

“Its political invocations, such as an allusion to the School of the Americas (a major topic to cover in a big-budget film) and a harrowing scene of a raid upon the Reyes home, while overwrought in its use of slow motion, humanizes endangered emigrant families, are daring subplots to add.” – Robert Daniels,

“The script sometimes pulls its punches when referencing systemic oppression, and it’s far from a radical indictment of xenophobia or economic and racial inequality in the U.S. But it is surprising what Soto manages to say about these subjects in the package of a major superhero film.” – Alyssa Mora, IGN Movies

“While there are moments discussing the gentrification that’s pushing the Reyes’ out of their home, the film takes the time to show the issue at hand instead of telling the viewer everything.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“Perhaps the realities of day-to-day living in Palmera City, where families like the Reyes who are struggling to make ends meet coexist with tech billionaires like the Kords, could have been further explored if Blue Beetle didn’t devote so much time to trying to implement a world-ending threat.” – Tatiana Hullender, Screen Rant

Is it good for Latino representation?

“As a Latino, it was eye-opening to see the ideologies of a Latino household so elegantly explored on the big screen.” – David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

“This film is unapologetically Mexican-American… but the moments of Latinidad aren’t beating the audience over the head as if checking boxes. Instead, they’re honest portrayals of family life in a Mexican family.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

Blue Beetle is one of the rare opportunities to celebrate a specific part of the Latin community, and it revels in that specificity, only adding more heart to Jaime’s journey to becoming a hero.” – Yolanda Machado, Entertainment Weekly

“What’s wonderful about Blue Beetle is that it’s so fiercely, brilliantly, loudly Latine… It points to the necessity of representation both in front of and behind the camera as Soto has crafted a community that feels authentic rather than pandering.” – Alyssa Mora, IGN Movies

“One of the nice things to enjoy about Blue Beetle is that it gets points for diversity.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

“This superhero film powerfully conveys that all stories need to be told and authentic.” – Catalina Combs, Black Girl Nerds

Elpidia Carrillo, George Lopez, Xolo Mariduena, Belissa Escobedo, and Damian Alcazar in Blue Beetle (2023)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

How is Xolo Maridueña in the title role?

“A superstar-making performance.” – David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

“Xolo Maridueña delivers a delightfully refreshing performance as Jaime.” – Alyssa Mora, IGN Movies

“Maridueña’s performance is full of endearing heart and charm, balancing vibrant and vulnerable overtones in the material, providing a deepened connection with the character.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Maridueña’s performance is as perfectly suited to the sci-fi action scenes as it is to the more tender or comedic ones.” – Tatiana Hullender, Screen Rant

“Maridueña is reasonably charismatic but like his compatriots, he’s habitually reduced to yelling very loudly whenever he’s scared, excited or furious.” – Nick Schager, Daily Beast

What about the rest of the ensemble?

“Such a strong focus on the foundation of family leads to one of the year’s most entertaining ensembles – The Reyes family.” – David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

“Superb casting brings together a crackling ensemble whose members talk over each other, cling to one another, and sling the kind of one-liners that only a relative can get away with. All this clamor, chaos, and warmth makes them feel like an authentic family.” – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

“The group’s chemistry is astounding. This feels like a real family, loudly affectionate, fiercely protective, and prone to excitedly talk over one another.” – Alyssa Mora, IGN Movies

“We’ve not seen anything quite like the closeness of the Reyes clan. This might be a solo superhero story for Jaime Reyes, but it is most definitely a family affair.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

“The Reyes family is important to the story and the cast behind them helps make the narrative moments in the film that happen between them feel honest… Every interaction between the characters and Jaime feels lived in.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“The supporting cast is appealing across the board… It’s the space given to the Reyes family that makes the movie so enjoyable.” – David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter

Harvey Guillen and Susan Sarandon in Blue Beetle (2023)

(Photo by Hopper Stone/©Warner Bros.)

How is the movie’s villain?

“Sarandon plays this part to a campy hilt.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Her villainous take shines… Similarly to Tommy Lee Jones’s Two-Face in Batman Forever, Sarandon goes to 11.” – David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

“Susan Sarandon is clearly having a great time as evil matriarch and CEO Victoria Kord, but her war-mongering plan never feels like it amounts to a real threat.” – Tatiana Hullender, Screen Rant

“Sarandon summons up a boatload of evil but never sails over the top in a role that could have drifted into complete stereotype.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“Victoria is a stock big-business baddie.” – Nick Schager, Daily Beast

“Victoria Kord’s motivations ultimately prove to be the weakest element of the film… She’s not a particularly interesting character, which ultimately hinders the climactic confrontation in the final act of the film.” – Alyssa Mora, IGN Movies

How are the action sequences?

“A far cry from the terrible graphics of The Flash, Soto’s action sequences are exciting and impressive. Each fight is well choreographed with not a single shot wasted.” – Yolanda Machado, Entertainment Weekly

“The film’s action sequences are dazzling, aided by a mostly practical suit Maridueña plays in.” – Catherine Gonzales, Awards Watch

“It’s thrillingly action-packed.” – Alyssa Mora, IGN Movies

“On the action and adventure front, Blue Beetle excels… By casting an actor known for martial arts in Cobra Kai, it’s no surprise that Maridueña is fantastic in this action-forward role.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“Though the action sequences are unremarkable, they still carry some vigor because of the movie’s infectiously entertaining ensemble.” – Robert Daniels,

What about the visual effects?

“The effects here, all magnetic waves of electric-blue light, plus clomping robot men, provide an old-school rock ’em sock ’em satisfaction. It’s not that the visual flimflam is awesome, exactly. It’s that it’s tactile enough to conjure a sensation of pre-digital kinetic innocence.” – Owen Gleiberman, Variety

“The practical suit build shines brightest among the effects work on the film.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“I was surprised and, I’ll admit, delighted by the special effects of the latest DC film, Blue Beetle. The CGI didn’t take away from my enjoyment of this film.” – Catalina Combs, Black Girl Nerds

“The movie does suffer from uneven visual effects which render the Scarab’s powers less impressive and make Kord Industries seem less imposing.” – Tatiana Hullender, Screen Rant

Xolo Maridueña in Blue Beetle (2023)

(Photo by ©Warner Bros.)

Are there any other major issues?

“The film’s comedy sometimes falls flat. It’s never a good sign when your film relies on fart jokes.” – David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

“Tthe film’s pacing is often uneven with comedy, primarily from George Lopez, not allowing moments of emotional weight to execute the full somber note that it intends.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“Where my attention was diverted from this fun, family-driven flick was the pace and choppiness of the dialogue… The action was so engaging and well-paced that the dialogue, even in high-stress situations, was uneven..” – Catalina Combs, Black Girl Nerds

“Where Blue Beetle suffers for me is in the design. The suit, being what it is, leans into the problem with many live-action superheroes: It looks silly.” – Kristy Puchko, Mashable

Does it make us hopeful for the future of the DCU?

Blue Beetle marks a strong start to a new era of DC superheroes.” – Courtney Howard, Fresh Fiction

“Here’s to hoping that James Gunn and Peter Safran embrace Blue Beetle in their new DC universe.” – Kate Sánchez, But Why Tho? A Geek Community

“This should be the blueprint for James Gunn as he moves forward with the new DCU.” – Travis Hopson, Punch Drunk Critics

Blue Beetle is the cinematic VICKS Bibaporrú for the DCU!” – David Gonzalez, The Cinematic Reel

“Give the waning days of the old era of DC movies at Warner Bros some credit for going out in style.” – Pete Hammond, Deadline Hollywood Daily

“If this is the end to Warner Bros’ initial DC era (before James Gunn and Peter Safran reboot the entire franchise), it’s a fittingly banal and cacophonous one.” – Nick Schager, Daily Beast

“I have no idea if this is a one-off film or if the character of Blue Beetle will play an active role in the future of the DC Universe going forward. This isn’t on the cast or crew but it shows the state of DC Films at the moment.” – Danielle Solzman, Solzy at the Movies

Blue Beetle opens in theaters everywhere on August 18, 2023.

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