With the success of The Suicide Squad, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. are fast-tracking their DCEU projects. One of these highly anticipated projects is the legacy superhero film, Blue Beetle. Now it appears the lead role of Jaime Reyes has been cast with young Latino actor Xolo Maridueña, of Cobra Kai fame.
Check out the details of the Blue Beetle HBO Max exclusive film and see if you think that Xolo Maridueña is a perfect fit.
Who is the Blue Beetle?
The Blue Beetle is one of the oldest superhero characters created in the Golden Age. Created by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski (under the pseudonym Charles Nicholas) for Fox Comics, the first Blue Beetle debuted in Mystery Men Comics #1 on August 1939, just a little over a year after Superman debuted in Action Comics #1. One of the earliest artists to handle the comic was "The King" himself, Jack Kirby.
This version was Dan Garret, the son of a police officer that was killed in the line of duty. Garret became a cop himself, but also donned the costume of the Blue Beetle to fight crime. In his earliest incarnation, the Blue Beetle was very much like an earlier pulp hero, the Green Hornet. He wore a three-piece suit, a fedora, and a simple mask, with a blue scarab on his shirt. He had no powers, using similar Beetle-named equipment in the same way Batman has a “bat” prefix for his gadgets.
Later, his look would be revised, with Blue Beetle wearing a more standard superhero costume. This costume was bulletproof but lightweight. Writers would also revise Garret to have super-powers. However, the source of these powers would be inconsistent, ranging from a secret formula he needs to regularly ingest to an ancient mystical beetle scarab. Even his powers would be in flux, ranging from simple increased strength to more outrageous abilities such as self-propelled flight, x-ray vision, and energy blasts from his hands.
When the rights to the Blue Beetle name and trademark were acquired by Charlton Comics, Dan Garret was retired and a new character would be introduced carrying on the name.
Created by comics legend Steve Ditko (who co-created Marvel’s Spider-Man), this new Blue Beetle would be Ted Kord, a wealthy scientist who was a former student of Dan (now named Garrett, instead of Garret and also switched from a cop to an archaeologist). It is revealed that Garret and Kord fought against Ted’s uncle, Jarvis Kord, to prevent him from using androids for world domination. In the battle, Garrett perished but entrusted Kord with continuing the Blue Beetle legacy.
Unlike Garrett, Kord did not have super powers (as Dan was not able to pass the scarab to him). Instead, Kord was more of a gadgeteer hero, using pseudo-scientific equipment and his athletic abilities to fight against evil. Kord is also the longest serving Blue Beetle, having also been the Blue Beetle at the time DC Comics acquired the Charlton properties.
Much later, a third Blue Beetle would be created. Keith Giffen, John Rogers, and Cully Hamner created Jaime Reyes, who first appeared in Infinite Crisis #3 (February 2006). Reyes is a Latino teenager who found the mystical scarab that once gave Dan Garrett his powers. However, it is revealed the scarab is a symbiotic entity, and it bonds with Reyes.
Out of all the versions of the Blue Beetle, the Jaime Reyes version is the most powerful. The scarab creates a suit of armor for Jaime, and can create various weapons, made of both material and pure energy. This Blue Beetle can create blasters, energy swords, wings, and change into pretty much any shape or form. It can even create weapons that can penetrate a Green Lantern’s constructs or to mimic Kryptonite to take advantage of Superman’s susceptibility to its radiation.
This last version of the Blue Beetle is the most prevalent in modern media, having appeared in animated series such as Justice League Unlimited and Batman: The Brave and the Bold, video games such as Injustice 2 and DC Universe Online, and even in live action in one episode of Smallville (“Booster”, aired April 22, 2011).
A big-screen adaptation had been suggested for years before it was confirmed as part of the HBO Max lineup being developed, including the upcoming Batgirl and Static Shock projects. In February this year, Warner Bros. chose Angel Manuel Soto (Charm City Kings) to direct the project, with a script from Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Scarface).
— Xolo Mariduena (@Xolo_Mariduena) August 3, 2021
Director Manuel Soto stated he had Xolo Mariduena on his mind for the role of Jaime Reyes, aka The Blue Beetle, since day one of getting the job of helming the project:
Since I got the invitation from DC to work on this project, I couldn’t stop seeing him as the character.
Xolo Maridueña has gained a lot of attention amongst pop culture fans for his portrayal of Miguel Diaz, the student of both Danny LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence (played by Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, respectively) in Cobra Kai.
During the premiere of James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, Maridueña and Soto were spotted together, which fueled the speculation that the youthful Latino actor has been cast for the Blue Beetle role. This was confirmed by the director in a Variety interview:
.@Xolo_Mariduena reacts to landing the role of #BlueBeetle in DC's first comic adaptation focusing on a Latino superhero: "I have so much pride in getting to be a part of this project... It's such a great opportunity and I'm not gonna take it lightly." https://t.co/zXKbGv1RQr pic.twitter.com/QgcYCYPPdC
— Variety (@Variety) August 4, 2021
Xolo Maridueña was ecstatic about the good fortune. The young actor had this to say about being cast as the DCEU’s first major Latino superhero headlining his own big project:
The only thing that is on my mind right now is just the fact that he’s Latino. I have so much pride in getting to be a part of this project with Angel, someone like him. I think it’s so important, and I don’t want to stand on the soapbox for too long but representation is so important.
Although there have been other Latino comic book superheroes who appeared in live action before, they have been smaller or supporting roles, such as Sunspot in New Mutants or Vibe in The CW’s The Flash TV series. Blue Beetle would be groundbreaking in pushing the goal of representation in the extremely popular superhero genre in popular media.
What about Booster Gold?
One familiar element about the DC Comics iteration of both the Ted Kord and Jaime Reyes Blue Beetles is their friendship with another hero, the time-traveling Booster Gold. While there is a long-delayed Booster Gold film being developed by producer Greg Berlanti, (Riverdale, Superman & Lois), the latest news in 2020 was still unclear as to when it would be finished and released.
Since the DCEU is expanding to be more of a multiverse, with multiple projects using the same characters, a version of Booster Gold in the Blue Beetle HBO Max exclusive could be included. We will have to wait and see how the Blue Beetle develops.
Blue Beetle will be released on the HBO Max streaming platform (date to be announced).