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'Blue Beetle' movie fans loved its Latino superhero — and they're rooting for its streaming success

Fans who saw themselves through the character of Jaime Reyes hope the film gets many more viewers, which didn't happen at the box office — much to their dismay.
Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes, with an ancient alien artifact known as the Scarab.
Xolo Maridueña as Jaime Reyes with an ancient alien artifact known as the Scarab.Warner Bros. Pictures

Blue Beetle, DC’s first live-action film with a Latino lead, is making its streaming debut Friday on Max.

Fans who identified with the Latino superhero hope the movie gets many more viewers — which didn’t happen at the box office, much to their frustration.

“The jokes were so good because they were so relatable, to be honest, because it reminded me of stuff my uncles would say,” said Daniel Espinoza, 24, of Inglewood, California. “The movie showed how much family plays into the Latino culture.”

Numerous moments in the movie caught young Latino viewers’ attention, from comedian George Lopez’s role as Jaime Reyes’/Blue Beetle’s tío, or uncle, Rudy, to the reggaeton soundtrack of Calle 13’s “Atreve-te-te” and the old-school songs of the late Mexican singer Vicente Fernández, which are a familiar musical backdrop in many Latino households.

“Blue Beetle was truly a love letter to Latinos everywhere,” said Melissa Ignacio, 28, of Santa Clarita, California. “The fact that they had songs from Selena, who I listen to, and songs from Vicente Fernández, who my dad listens to, made it such an enjoyable experience — my parents and I were all able to enjoy equally."

Latino actor Xolo Maridueña, who's of Mexican, Cuban and Ecuadorian heritage, was widely praised for his performance, and the movie earned a 92% audience score and a 78% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Still, it made headlines as DC’s lowest-grossing film.

"Blue Beetle."
A scene from "Blue Beetle."Courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

Critics say numerous factors came into play when the movie hit theaters in August: The Hollywood writers and actors strikes meant the actors weren’t promoting the film, and the Blue Beetle character wasn’t a common face in the DC Extended Universe.

“It’s nice to see Blue Beetle, the first brown superhero, from a major studio like DC,” said Jack Rico, a journalist. “But to really reach mainstream status, we need to defy those metrics.”

According to Comscore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak, Latinos made up almost 4 in 10 (38%) of the box office turnout.

“I felt hopeful, and I felt seen,” said Marina Sangit, 27, a second-generation Mexican and Indian American living in Washington, D.C. “I think we’ve come a long way, but I felt seen and visible in a way that was deeply meaningful and impactful to my life and my lived experiences.”

The movie’s low box office numbers disappointed Latinos who have mourned the demise of other movies and television shows with Latino leads and storylines, such as Netflix’s “Gentefied” and the reboot of “One Day at a Time." Both shows were well-reviewed and had loyal fans, but they were canceled when they didn’t get the viewership and metrics of other trending productions.

“Watching that happen over and over again makes me feel like our stories are not appreciated or unimportant," said Alejandra Vázquez Baur, 28, who lives in New York City.

“Blue Beetle” brought families together, which Vázquez Baur experienced when she went home to New Mexico.

“Me and my brothers went together, and I intentionally wanted to see it with them, who grew up playing with all of the superheroes," she said.

In addition, "Blue Beetle" depicted a relatable family dynamic.

Elpida Carrillo, George Lopez, Xolo Madridueña, Belissa Escobedo, and Damian Alcazar
Elpida Carrillo, George Lopez, Xolo Madridueña, Belissa Escobedo and Damian Alcazar in "Blue Beetle."Hopper Stone / SMPSP / DC Comics

“In most films, they have an aunt or an uncle or parents, a single parent, and the structure of those superhero stories or their families is pretty small,” Vázquez Baur said. “In this film, specifically, we have a large family unit, multigenerational, that our main character returns to every day and feels a sense of duty across generations.”

Some more serious moments in the movie, such as when Jaime Reyes’ family is raided by Kord Industries, resonated for some viewers as a metaphor for Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids in immigrant communities. 

“At that moment, I felt that fear growing up undocumented, thinking that one day I might be torn apart from the embrace of my family’s arms,” said Juan Diego Mazuera Arias, 25, of New York. “Seeing Xolo’s character fight as hard as he could to save his family from the heavily armed militia is a scene that will stay for me forever.”

“Blue Beetle” follows other recent movies with Latino leads, including “In the Heights,” “Encanto” and “Coco.” But those movies have been few and far between, as a recent University of Southern California study points out. Just 4.4% of lead roles of all ages were played by Latinos among top-grossing films from 2007 to 2022.

“Hopefully one day in the future, we won’t talk about Latino representation,” Rico said, but instead more Latino and other lead roles are seen as "representation for everyone."

In the meantime, "Blue Beetle" fans hope the movie gains traction on Max.

“I will tell all my friends and all my cousins,” Vázquez Baur said. “I hope more people see ‘Blue Beetle’ as it pops up at the top of their Max profile.”

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