Over the past year, Warner Bros’ DC superhero films seem to have suffered a severe case of Kryptonite poisoning. Black Adam, Shazam! Fury of the Gods and The Flash all crashed and burned at the box office, and it’s not likely that their new offering, Blue Beetle, is going to save the day. It was always a long shot, mind you. Compared to Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman, Blue Beetle is a lesser known, fuzzily defined character: his main claim to fame is that he inspired Nite Owl in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ classic graphic novel, Watchmen. But if the Blue Beetle film had had enough fresh ideas, its protagonist’s obscurity might not have been an issue. Unfortunately, the average beetle has more fresh ideas than this one.
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The story begins as Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) returns to his hometown, the futuristic, fictional, and horribly fake-looking Palmera City, having studied for a pre-law degree in Gotham. He doesn’t say whether he met Bruce Wayne while he was at university, but things didn’t go well for his family in the meantime. His dad (Damián Alcázar) is recovering from a heart attack, and the family is about to be kicked out of its cosy barrio house by developers from the evil Kord corporation. Nonetheless, Jaime apparently has no qualms about getting a job as a cleaner for the corporation’s villainous CEO, Victoria (Susan Sarandon), or about flirting with Victoria’s non-villainous niece, Jenny (Bruna Marquezine). For reasons that aren’t clear, Victoria is obsessed with creating cyborg Robocops with the help of a small extra-terrestrial device called The Scarab. But, much to her annoyance, this shiny metal bug chooses Jaime as its host. After it attaches itself to his spine, he is wrapped in an ugly exoskeleton that allows him to fly, blast people with energy beams, and do various other generic super things.