Despite the various fluctuations in management, objectives, and the general passage of time, Warner Bros. did reaffirm over the weekend that its Blue Beetle movie would actually be coming out. With a debut poster focusing on the titular superhero’s alien Scarab, all that’s left now is to wait for the trailer (or two, three, you know the deal) that spells out what we can expect from Jaime Reyes’ (Xolo Maridueña)‘s first live-action film appearance.
DC has a lot of teen superheroes in its stable, but Jaime is one that the company’s never really known what to do with, at least in comics. Originally created in 2006 by Keith Giffen, Cully Hamner, and John Rogers, Jaime’s had a bit of a hard time connecting with audiences. Sometimes he gets his own solo comic, other times he’s in a team book, or he appears as a guest star in someone else’s story before he eventually decides to peace out. It’s hard to say why, given that he has a pretty solid hook of being a teenager who’s a mix of Iron Man and Venom.
Even without that setup, Jamie is a pretty important character in his own right. Plenty of superhero movies in the last several years have had a big deal made about them being “first” in some capacity, be it the first headlined by a particular ethnic minority, a non-heterosexual orientation, and so on. While Blue Beetle is another “first” in that regard—it’s the first movie from the DC Extended Universe to be headlined by a Latino lead—its existence is also substantial for Jaime just as a character. He wasn’t the first teenager to take the mantle of an already-established superhero, but he was one that helped lay the foundation of young heroes that are now carving out a space for themselves in the franchise-heavy cape era.
Characters like Kamala Khan and Miles Morales hit at just the right moment when comics were not only making more active pushes for diversity, but being used as a potential beta testing ground for future franchise potential. Even if that wasn’t explicitly stated, you could eventually see it in the design—and what better way to address the diversity problem of superhero comics and blockbuster tentpole movies than creating diverse superheroes in comics who could headline or prominently feature in blockbuster tentpole movies? It’s a program that Marvel got hip to during the 2010s, and one DC has only recently opted to go all in on with the “Future State” comics and the new versions of heroes spun out of that event.
Jaime, however, arrived before that wave of diversity happened. While his debut back in 2006 wasn’t noteworthy, you can certainly see how he could’ve taken off more if he debuted six or seven years later. In the same way that DC decided to bump Harley Quinn and Cyborg up to A-listers, the same could have been done for Jaime. After all, Warner Bros. announced it was making a Blue Beetle movie back in 2018.
In DC’s defense, Jaime managed to build out a particular space for himself in the public eye, it’s just taken more time than Harley or Cyborg. Mostly free from the public spectacle of the DCEU and its turbulence, the character has carved out a niche for himself through animation and video games. Young Justice made him into one of the primary leads for its sophomore season, and he was a recurring character for Batman: The Brave & the Bold during roughly the same time. DC’s animated movie slate during the 2010s had him appear in its Teen Titans movies (he was a part of the team in the comics during the late ‘00s) and served as one of the launch characters for Injustice 2. This has almost certainly been for the better—now his film is relatively free to exist as its own entity.
Hopefully, with this movie and the recently debuted (and pretty solid) Blue Beetle: Graduation Day comic, DC takes advantage of Jaime’s momentum and does more with him. The character’s been through too much in the last few years to have his potential squandered now.
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