Yes, a cool, bulletproof super-suit that can fly you to space and manifest any weapon you can think of is great, but “Blue Beetle” makes it clear that the real super-powers here are a devoted family and a culture of resilience and make-do. Jaime Reyes, played by the very charismatic Xolo Maridueña (“Cobra Kai”) is the fourth version of this character, originally from Charleton Comics, later DC. And he is the first to be a character of color, in this version, from a financially struggling but devoted and optimistic Mexican-American family. They include his mother, Roicio (Elpidia Carrillo), his father Alberto (Damián Alcázar of “Narcos”), his sister Milagro (Belissa Escobedo), his grandmother Nana (Adriana Barraza), and his uncle Rudy (George Lopez).
That whole family is at the airport to meet Jaime when he returns home, the first member of his family to be a college graduate. He is very happy to see them, but dismayed to learn what they have been keeping from him. Alberto is recovering from a heart attack. And the family is about to lose their home because they cannot pay the rent. Jaime is determined to do whatever he can to take care of them. He is fired from his first job as a pool boy because he stood up for Jenny Kord (Bruna Marquezine) when she was being bullied by her aunt, the formidable Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon), the head of the huge conglomerate, Kord Industries. Jenny was objecting to her aunt’s plan to create an army of cyborg super-soldiers. She did not want to be in the weapons business.
Jenny thanks Jaime and says she will find him a job at Kord Industries. His whole family drives him to the headquarters to cheer him on. But when Jaime sees Jenny, she is again in distress. She hands him a fast food box and tells him to help her hide it, and not to look inside. He brings it home, the box gets opened, and the blue scarab inside attaches itself to Jaime and then enters his body, turning him into a cyborg superhero. The super-suit is fully integrated into his system, but it also operates kind of like Tony Stark’s Iron Man contraption. It has its own consciousness. It talks to him.
So, off to some superhero stuff, including that classic, the villain’s secluded island with the secret lab. But along the way there are some funny and warm-hearted family moments that make this as much about them as it is about the gadgets and stunts. Unlike other comic book heroes like Batman, Superman, Shazam, the X-Men, and Spider-Man, Jaime’s background and motives are not…