Blue Beetle: Everything you need to know about DC’s first Latino superhero

Xolo Maridueña will portray Jaime Reyes, a young Latino who acquires the Blue Beetle’s powers in front of his family. Here’s a brief history of the character

Blue Beetle
A clip from the movie Blue Beetle.CORTESÍA
Alonso Martínez

Blue Beetle is the newest addition to DC’s roster of superheroes on the big screen. The hero will make his live-action film debut in an eponymous movie that was originally planned for exclusive release on HBO Max, with Xolo Maridueña (Cobra Kai) portraying Jaime Reyes, the Latino kid who transforms into Blue Beetle. However, the film will now be released in theaters worldwide, as part of the new universe planned by DC Films producer James Gunn, who took over the creative side of the studio, even though production for the film began before he assumed leadership.

Who is Blue Beetle?

Blue Beetle is the moniker adopted by three superheroes who have appeared in comic books published by various companies since 1939. The original Blue Beetle first appeared in Fox Comics’ Mystery Men Comics #1. The character was Dan Garret, a rookie police officer who donned a special bulletproof costume and consumed a substance called “Vitamin 2X,” granting him super-energy and strength. The Blue Beetle was created by “Charles Nicholas” a pseudonymous house name of comics legend Jack Kirby, Chuck Cuidera and Charles Wojtkoski.

The character gained popularity during the subsequent decade, featuring in a comic book series, a comic strip, and a radio serial. However, like many superheroes of that era, his popularity dwindled during the 1950s, leading to several publications going out of business. Fox Comics, for instance, sold the printing plates for some stories featuring Blue Beetle to Charlton Comics, which would later produce its own stories featuring the character.

In the 1960s, stories centered around the character introduced a new origin narrative. The character’s name spelling was altered to Dan Garrett, a university professor who acquires a mystical Egyptian scarab that bestows upon him superpowers.

In 1966, Charlton Comics introduced Ted Kord as part of the Captain Atom line, written and illustrated by acclaimed comic book icon Steve Ditko. Kord was a student of Dan Garrett’s who assumes the role of Blue Beetle after Garrett’s apparent demise. Kord, an inventor who runs his research lab, takes on various threats while wearing the suit.

The character remained absent until 1983, when AC Comics published its Americomics series. In one issue, Kord relinquishes the Blue Beetle name to Garrett. The same year, DC Comics acquired the rights to Charlton Comics’ superhero lineup.

In 1986, DC Comics launched its first Blue Beetle series, starring Ted Kord. This integrated him into the DC Comics shared universe, allowing him to interact with other significant characters. In this iteration, Kord was a billionaire industrialist. A year later, Blue Beetle joined the Justice League as a new series commenced. Kord’s association with the team allowed him to form a friendship with teammate Booster Gold. After certain changes, they became part of the Extreme Justice team. Kord also joined the Birds of Prey and featured in the miniseries Formerly Known as the Justice League. The character met his demise in the 2005 one-shot comic Countdown to Infinite Crisis, penned by DC’s acclaimed writer Geoff Johns.

How did Jaime Reyes become Blue Beetle?

In 2006, DC introduced Jaime Reyes as the new Blue Beetle in Infinite Crisis #3. The character, a Latino teenager from El Paso, Texas, assumes the mantle of Blue Beetle after encountering the Scarab formerly owned by Ted Kord. Later, Booster Gold attempts to retrieve the Scarab, but the artifact fuses itself to Jaime’s spine while he sleeps.

Booster then recruits Jaime for a space mission, as the Scarab is needed to locate a satellite. After aiding in this mission, Jaime disappears, being teleported from a ship by the Scarab, which seeks to evade the Green Lanterns on board.

In March 2006, Blue Beetle commenced its own monthly series, featuring Green Lantern Guy Gardner as the antagonist. Gardner’s ring reacts to the Scarab, driving him into a state of rage. The comic delves into the Scarab’s backstory, revealing its creation by the Reach, an ancient militaristic race that controls Space Sector 2. Following a clash between the Reach and the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic law enforcement agency, the Reach offers the Scarab as a “protector.” However, they later attempt to transform its host into their vanguard, leading all Green Lanterns to react negatively to the Scarab.

Since its debut, this version of Blue Beetle has also been involved with the Justice League International, the Teen Titans, Young Justice, and the Secret Six.

Jaime Reyes is depicted as an average Latino teenager, the son of Alberto and Bianca Reyes, with a sister named Milagro. While he acknowledges the challenges faced by his family and friends, he possesses a strong sense of responsibility and endeavors to assist them in resolving their problems. The Latino identity is prominently portrayed in the comics, showcasing a traditional Latino family.

What are Blue Beetle’s powers?

In his early days as Blue Beetle, Jaime lacked control over the Scarab’s powers, but he gradually masters them.

The Blue Beetle Scarab fuses onto Jaime Reyes’ spine. When danger arises, the Scarab activates, emerging onto Jaime’s back and constructing a high-tech powered armor around his body. Once the threat subsides, the Scarab reattaches to Jaime’s spine.

This highly resilient armor shields him from powerful blows and can adapt its configuration to generate various armaments, ranging from cannons to blades and wings that enable flight. It adjusts to different threats and can even emit Kryptonite radiation.

Whether active or dormant, the Scarab grants Jaime a unique “sight” that enables him to perceive extradimensional entities, gathering information about the Scarab’s adversaries.

The Scarab operates via artificial intelligence that initially takes control of Jaime’s body, but eventually establishes communication with him. Its language gradually evolves into a rudimentary form of English, and at some point, it declares Jaime its first true friend.

The Scarab can also engage an Infiltrator Mode, an emergency system that allows the Scarab to operate without Jaime’s consciousness as a constraint. This mode is more ruthless toward adversaries but is reserved for extreme circumstances, as neither Jaime nor the AI like to use it.

During the 2016 DC Rebirth relaunch, the Scarab’s origin is reconned. Jaime collaborates with Ted Kord to study the Scarab. Doctor Fate, an ally of Blue Beetle, informs Kord that the beetle has a magical origin, rather than being extraterrestrial.

Xolo Maridueña’s Blue Beetle

In the upcoming DC Studios film Blue Beetle, directed by Ángel Manuel Soto, Xolo Maridueña assumes the role of Jaime Reyes. This cinematic interpretation differs from the comic book version. Here, Jaime is a college graduate residing in Palmera City, a fictional location, and his mother, portrayed by Elpidia Carrillo, is named Rocío Reyes, not Bianca.

The movie introduces a new character, Victoria Kord, Ted Kord’s sister and the previous Blue Beetle in the comics. She assumes the role of the antagonist, driven by a relentless desire to acquire the Scarab, bestowing Jaime with Blue Beetle powers. The character will be portrayed by Susan Sarandon.

In the film, Jaime receives his powers in the presence of his family, a dynamic that takes center stage. Maridueña shared with Entertainment Weekly, “One of the biggest changes from the superhero movies that I’ve seen and loved… is that in our story, Jaime gets his powers for the first time in front of his family. I think it helps keep the story honest and truthful from the get-go.” Mexican actor Damián Alcázar portrays Jaime’s father, Alberto Reyes, Belissa Escobedo plays his sister Milagro, and Adriana Barraza portrays his grandmother. The script is penned by Mexican-born writer Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer.

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