DC Comics’ Extended Universe is becoming bigger — and a little more Latino.
The American comic book publisher and Warner Bros. are developing the superhero movie “Blue Beetle", which will feature comic book character Jaime Reyes as the first DC standalone Latino lead, according to reports of the collaboration.
Reyes is a Mexican-American teenager from El Paso, Texas, who finds his life turned upside down when he discovers the Blue Beetle scarab tool, which gives him the technology to activate a bio-mechanical suit.
The Mexican-American superhero was created by Keith Giffen, John Rogers and Cully Hammer and introduced in a comic in 2006. Reyes is the third iteration of the “Blue Beetle” series hero, which is part of the DC Comics “Teen Titans.”
Hector Gonzalez Rodriguez III, creator and writer of "El Peso Hero" comics and co-founder of Rio Bravo Comics, sees the forthcoming “Blue Beetle” movie as “a positive step towards representation,” but he said it’s important to get Latino culture right so it doesn’t perpetuate inaccurate Latino stereotypes in Hollywood.
“As a comic book consumer and creator, there are reservations, because in order for representation to take hold there needs to be (Latino) writers and creators,” Gonzalez Rodriguez said.
So far, the people attached to the project are Mexican writer Gareth Dunnet-Alocer as screenwriter and Zev Foreman as executive producer. Dunnet-Alocer is the writer behind Universal’s Scarface remake and the remake of the upcoming Mexican action-drama Miss Bala.
Though "Blue Beetle" is being promoted as the first Latino superhero movie, one way to ensure it reflects Latino culture is to acknowledge that such films already have somewhat of a legacy in the U.S. Movies starring El Santo, (The Saint) a Mexican superhero, were dubbed into English and shown in the U.S. years ago.
“I grew up watching those,” Gonzalez Rodriguez told NBC News.
DC’s competitor, Marvel, has also recently released “Spiderman: Into the Spider-verse,” which stars Afro-Latino Miles Morales as its hero.
The movie creators should also look to independent Latino comic books such as El Muerto by Javier Hernandez or Gonzalez Rodriguez’s own El Peso Hero, he said. Both works “have a pulse on the Latino community and are very grassroots,” Gonzalez Rodriguez said.
La Borinqueña, a Latina superhero of Puerto Rican heritage, is the only independently published comic book included in a Smithsonian National Museum of American History "Superheroes" exhibit that runs through September 2019, according to the comic book's creator Edgardo Miranda-Rodriguez.
Gonzalez Rodriguez suspects that “Blue Beetle” has the potential to become a box office hit, as “Coco” was earlier this year — if it’s done right.
“If it’s done respectfully and truthfully, it can be an even bigger hit commercially [than “Coco”] and right now they are focusing on the Hispanic market,” Gonzalez Rodriguez said. “They know more than a quarter of moviegoers are Hispanic.”