With summer amping up in a big way, movie fans have much to look forward to. Many of us have been loving flicks like John Wick: Chapter 4 and Scream 6. Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves brought us some serious weekend buzz. And while the superhero flicks haven’t been quite as successful as of late, I’d wait to count them out, especially when you have something fresh to bring. And after seeing the Blue Beetle trailer, I am looking forward to a new force of nature to create some movie magic. And now you can check it out above!
The cinematic take on the character revolves around Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña), a teenager from Mexico. When he discovers a beetle-shaped object, he gets much more than he bargained for. After the “sacred scarab” gives the young man powers, in front of his family no less, he finds himself cutting busses in half simply by standing there. And yes, the newly made Blue Beetle must figure out a way to take control of his newfound abilities. And frankly, this one looks like a lot of fun, at least from the brand-new preview.
Last week, Warner Brothers revealed the new trailer, which you can see above. And yes, the reaction appeared to be positive with those in attendance. Most notably, many people responded to the idea that it’s not another case of a superhero hiding his powers from the family. And what seemed to resonate with all of us? They’ve found the perfect Jaime Reyes with Cobra Kai‘s Xolo Maridueña. The young actor exudes a sense of wonder and charm. I’m down for what filmmaker Angel Manuel Soto (director of the underrated Charm City Kings) is bringing us. Share your comments below, but what are your thoughts on the Blue Beetle trailer?
After the trailer reveal, Angel Manuel Soto and Xolo Maridueña sat down for a spirited Q and A moderated by the always delightful Tiffany Smith. Read on for the conversation, and let us know your thoughts on the upcoming Blue Beetle in theatres on August 18th, 2023.
Moderator: So I just have to ask first, how does it feel for you guys to get to see the trailer with an audience? How does that feel?
Xolo Maridueña: Oh, yeah. I have the jitters. Every time I see the trailer, I get so excited. But to be able to finally show it to all of you, it’s a pleasure, and it looks sick. I look at the screen, and I’m like, dude, that’s me. What the heck?
Angel Manuel Soto: It doesn’t get old, but I thought it was going to get old. I was just talking in Spanish for a long time, so my English is not very good right now, but it’ll be fine. But yes, see, with you guys here, it just felt different. It felt like the first time I saw it, so.
M: Well, and the crazy thing, I think every time anybody makes a film, it feels like you create a family on set. So getting to see everybody up there, can you talk to us a little bit, Angel, about the amazing cast and what makes this cast so special on-screen and off?
AMS: One of the things that we really wanted to do with the cast was to be able to be as authentic as we can. We wanted to tap into almost the three generations. We wanted to see the first immigrant family, then when they bring their sons, and then the sons that are born here. So being able to tap into the three generations authentically like Xolo, who was born here and he’s Mexican American as Belissa is, she plays Milagro, the sister. Then you have characters like George Lopez, who’s been here for a minute and he’s like a national treasure, and Elpidia Carrillo as well, who plays the mom. George plays the uncle. Then I really wanted to tap into what I consider the best actors from Mexico City, which is Adriana Barraza and Damián Alcázar.
I really wanted to bring all the people I really respect from the movies that I saw growing up in Mexico that really inspired me to become a filmmaker.
Of course, you have Harvey Guillén also, who is of Mexican descent. You have Raoul Max Trujillo, who is Native Mexican too. So being able to keep it as authentic as possible, not the hallmark cookie-cutter Latinos, something that feels like, yeah, that’s my uncle. I can totally relate to those and seeing them bring everything. They took the film, and made it theirs. They took their fun very seriously. I think that’s one of the things that I really love working together and with Xolo. That, for me as a director, is probably the most satisfying thing, being able to get authentic chemistry from a collective that feels like something I grew up with.
M: Yeah. Xolo, for you, you can jump in on that with the family aspect on set too, but one of my favorite things about this character is that he’s very new to superheroing. He doesn’t know anything about it. So if you can talk a little bit about what was it like for you being new to being a superhero, getting to know the character in the story.
XM: Yeah, absolutely. On his point about the family, something that we were just discussing that’s funny is we see some of these other superheroes who are able to hide from their family the fact that they’re a superhero. But as you guys just saw in the trailer, his family is right there on that first transformation, so to witness-
AMS: Good luck keeping a secret.
XM: Yeah, exactly. To come through this journey together is something that I think we haven’t seen before in superhero movies and that really is the beating heart of this movie. Although this was my first time being a superhero and coming into a character like this, as you’ll see in the movie, it can’t happen without the family. That’s a theme that I think whether or not you’re Latino; it transcends ethnicity, it transcends color of skin because that’s something that we can all relate from. I think that that’s really been the most exciting part, which is that although it is undeniably or unapologetically Latino, everyone will understand Milagro. Everyone understands Jaime because they’re people who we’ve interacted with in our daily life, and the problems that they’re facing are problems that we know. Maybe yeah, there’ll be room for the second or third one to do the crazy alien stuff, but the stuff that you see in this movie is it’s all very tangible, and it feels rooted in today’s world. Then it’s 110% because it’s the world that we know, plus a little bit extra.
AMS: Yeah, there’s a little bit of magic.
XM: Plus a little bit of magic. Also, to bring Palmera City to the screen is fantastic in its own regard because Jaime, as we were discussing Blue Beetle, the vision was to have Blue Beetle be on the same level as someone like a Superman or a Batman who have Gotham or Metropolis or cities that are the beating hearts of the themes of the comics. To create a world for Jaime and to create a world where he feels he fits was really such a humbling and honoring experience as well.
M: I love that. I have to say, you guys all know this, but I grew up reading comic books and it was the first time where I could see myself in something. Then you go from there where you see yourself as a character, but then it really comes down to the stories being great and finding that way that they connect to everybody. Angel, what would you say for this one? Because I think you jumped into it a little bit, but what would you say? Why is Blue Beetle a movie for everybody?
AMS: Well, because I am like everybody. Xolo is like everybody. I’m as special as all of you. I’m no less than anybody. My culture is not a buzzword. We exist, and we coexist. For me, being able to integrate those things, that makes us special, because the only thing that it does is its a flavor. It’s like laughter. People laugh differently, yet still laughter. We grieve differently. We cry. We deal with loss differently, but it’s still loss. So it’s always nice to see something that we are used to seeing a little bit with other superheroes that we love and we cherish, but what if we see it my way, our way, and invite the audience also to not feel repelled by it, come to the party?
M: And it’s something where it’s the superhero film, that’s the genre in itself, and then like you said, it’s added flavor in so many different ways.
AMS: Yeah. Latino is not a genre. We are not a genre and we’re not a buzzword either. It is a superhero movie that happens to have Latino at the forefront. That’s it.
Journalist: We all got to see some epic stuff on the screen there, but you chose to do this one in IMAX’s Expanded Aspect Ratio when you were filming it. What led to that decision, and then why do you think that people should really see it in IMAX?
AMS: Because IMAX is the shit. Honestly, it is the immersive aspect of it. At least I try to be as immersive as I can with the projects that I do, and the scope of IMAX allows you to be swallowed whole into the frame. It almost feels, at least with my relationship with cinema; it’s very spiritual in a way. It almost feels like you can have a physical connection to it. In the same way that we try our best to bring the audience in and come to this dance with the story and with the characters, IMAX just makes it as if you’re dancing with your partner and you could be in a ballroom with people, but when you’re dancing with your partner, it feels like you’re dancing with just them or you’re alone in the room with it. That’s what IMAX feels like to me.
J: We’re so excited about the authenticity that you’re talking about. A lot of us talked about rep sweats, which are the sweats, excitement, and anxiety that come with having to represent the community. How did you both approach that responsibility that you have for it’s more than just a superhero movie? The community is excited about it. How did you approach that?
AMS: Oh, shit, these are really good questions, huh? Okay. I’ll say I don’t take it lightly because we’re not a monolith, and so we’ll never going to be able to tell everything. Luckily for me, the way I see it, the job was already done. This is a Mexican family. So it is a Mexican family. It’s nothing but that, but that doesn’t mean that there is connective tissues between all of us, I say, with the collective memory and our blood history, but at the same time, it’s not that different from the rest of the world too. A lot of the stuff can be taken and can be shared and can be a communal experience even if you’re not from the Latino community. That being said, I feel like me and the writer, Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, who’s Mexican from Querétaro, cannot get more authentic than that. The cast is Mexican too. I cannot get more authentic than that. But as far as all this stuff, of course, we want to do more. Some people might feel they don’t see themselves. Some people might feel like they do. Overall, I think that if anything, this is just the first of many.
Yes, first of many Blue Beetles, but first of many other communities also being able to tell the stories in the way they feel authentic in telling them, but the voices that should tell those stories as well with the respect and the honor that those communities deserve. So ultimately, my goal is that everybody makes a f*cking movie. Why not? Why not? Not just me, everybody. Everybody who wants to make it, make it and tell your own stories. Hopefully, this opens the door to tell stories from Nicaragua, from Venezuela, from Argentina, from places that we don’t know about, and that can enrich us and make us better humans, understanding each other better and just have other conversations to have. Oh, I heard this. This is fun. Oh, they talked about this. Let me Google it. Holy shit, I didn’t know this happened. It’s just like it starts a conversation that allows us to be part of a global community and embrace each other’s differences in a way that’s exciting. I think, ultimately, that’s what I’m all about and that’s what I hope it happens.
J: You were just talking about the IMAX experience. Actually bridging off of that, this film was originally going to be made for HBO Max, which not the big screen experience. Can you talk about how the movie ended up going the theatrical route and the changes that went with it?
AMS: Yeah. That is true at the beginning of it. Once we started diving into the script and started to create concept art, the studio allowed me to run free in my creativity. Unbeknownst to them and to me, I guess, what they were able to see as the promise of how we picture Palmera City, how we really wanted the city to be. And how, in the bigger realm of this cultural side, is the impact that this can have culturally, but also in the superhero genre to try something different in the hope that people can see it as what it is. It’s a lot of love, a lot of heart. The studio felt like it has the potential to be theatrical, the stories that we’re telling, the topics that we’re touching upon, and how even though it’s very grounded and we were picturing this as almost like the first act of a big saga.
We really wanted to make the things that sometimes appear to be small due to the clouding of privilege; they can actually be worse than an alien invasion to some people. So how can we translate it into a movie where a superhero can actually be a superhero? It doesn’t really have to be with saving the planet from this fake invasion, but it’s actually something that we can relate to, which for some of us, is bigger than life. I think the studio saw the potential there and they were like, theaters.
XM: I wasn’t a part of that conversation. I got the FaceTime from Angel that says, “We’re in. We’re in. They can’t get us out now.” No, no. But no, I think in all things, being serious about it, I think what Angel is saying is that the Warner Bros and the DC family really understood and were just as excited as we are about the reality that this is a world movie. Not to mention that, like you were saying Angel, it’s a world movie. Yeah, you just said that. You said it all. I didn’t need to say anything. You said it perfectly. Yeah. It’s a movie that, after the fact, we realized, ah, this is a story that we want to tell to everyone, and it’s a blessing. Really, we’re so grateful for that. The movie deserves it.
J: Okay. Jaime came in, I believe, 2006, so I’m just really curious how much of the lore in this film is basically from Jaime’s run and is there going to be stuff from earlier versions that you’ve given Jaime spin on?
AMS: Yeah, The New 52 was a big inspiration as far as the suit goes and other aspects of the story, but we took a lot from bits and pieces. There is a lot of great stuff in all the different runs, and we were like, man, how do you choose one? We were like, do we have to choose one? No. Let’s do whatever the fuck we want with it and just have fun and create something awesome, create something really interesting that takes the greatest hits, even from the Injustice 2 game. We really deep dive on it because it’s f*cking dope. I see you. I see you.
That’s your favorite skin, right? So that’s what I’m saying. There are so many great things that go from Infinite Crisis and even to the new one, Graduation Day, which actually took a lot from what we did in the movie. We introduced Palmera City as trying to put Jaime in a city like the same thing like Xolo said. Superman has Metropolis, Central City for The Flash, Gotham. Why doesn’t he have his own city? He’s f*cking dope. That doesn’t mean that El Paso is not dope. El Paso is awesome, and El Paso is very much present in the life of the family, but in service of position in Blue Beetle as a potential leader in the DCU, Palmera City came to life, and thanks to Palmera City as well, and the bigger world building around it is what got us the theatrical. So yeah, if you guys are fans of it, you’re going to see bits and pieces. You’re going to see that we took some freedoms, and we just really had a lot of fun with the character. That’s the biggest takeaway.
J: How does that feel for you coming on to play this character? Obviously, it’s such a huge deal when you get cast, but then also knowing that this film is impacting the comic space as well. It’s going both ways. It’s not just you guys taking from the comics, but what you guys created is going into the comics too.
XM: Yeah. That part of things, making everything canon, it’s a very exciting part of the process. Getting to come in during pre-production and carve out who Jaime is as a character, I was really grateful that Angel gave me a lot of liberties in terms of trusting myself or trusting me as a performer. Jaime feels so honest. Although we are telling this larger-than-life story, it felt really easy, especially with the help of the family to get those moments right. Our rehearsal days weren’t getting the lines right. It was talking as a family. Once that part locked into place, the rest of the dominoes fell perfectly. I think it really is due in part to wanting the foundation of this movie, wanting the soil to be really pure, and wanting the hearts and souls of these characters to be three-dimensional. Once that was in place, everything else melted away. At the same time, we wanted to do something that was different. We’ve seen a lot of these superhero movies over the course of the past couple of decades, and seeing what slot, where we can fit in that, feels different. That was one of the most magical parts as well. It’s not about competition to us. We’re not looking to be called the next blah, blah, blah. We just want to enter this space and have it feel new, and I think we completed that. I think we did it.
J: You have a little bit of experience, but this is such a commitment and not just of your time, but physically and mentally. What do you do to prepare for what’s coming?
XM: A lot of it, honestly is just spending time with my family. I’ve been blessed that my friends and family are the friends and family that I’ve had most of my life and I feel fairly well-adjusted. I understand the social part of it and the effect that being part of a world like DC has on an individual, but at the end of the day, there’s nothing that brings me more joy than getting to sit and watch a movie with my family. And also, once I understood, to be quite frank, there were a lot of nerves that went in before the project. I’d never been number one on the call sheet before, never done a movie before. I had a really great conversation with someone, and they said the movie isn’t about you. It’s not about making Xolo the biggest thing yet. It’s not about what people are going to think of Xolo as an actor.
Sorry, I’m referencing myself in the third person. But it’s about opening the door and it’s about showing a group of people that you deserve to have your story being told too and that you are just as important as stories that we’ve been seeing for years. Once that clicked in my head, I realized that it’s not about me and who cares what people think of Xolo. It’s about getting the door open, not only for Blue Beetle but for all of the other superheroes that deserve to have their stories told too. That was the key for me. All of the nervousness, all of the social media stuff and what people think and what people like, all of that whisks away once you realize it’s not about any of that. That was, along with Angel, the biggest beacon for me, guiding me through the process.
J: Are we going to see more of Blue Beetle?
AMS: Actually. Okay. To that end, if you all help us and this movie becomes a massive f*cking hit, we’re going to see a lot of those. That’s what needs to happen. If we want to see more variety and really celebrate differences, celebrate culture, celebrate other worlds because it’s fun. The lore is so spectacular. The only way is by supporting movies, supporting a movie like this. Because I said it before, and I say it all the time, and you’re right, maybe it’s the Latino humbleness or that shit or whatever, but this is not about me. This is not about Xolo. I don’t really care about me. What I care about is opening doors. In a world where people really crave taking people down, and I made them fail, and all that bullshit, supporting each other is the only way we can tell different stories. Not all of them are going to be perfect, but they’re going to exist.
And being able to see other kids watch this movie or watch other movies and see themselves represented and say like, “Man, I want to tell a story about my community,” and then that kid becomes an amazing writer, and then we’re going to see all those characters that you want to see because I want to see them too. I want to support that vision, but the only way is to show them that people want to see that. Let’s party.
M: On that note, Blue Beetle’s going to be in theaters August of 2023. I want to say a huge thank you for all of you guys coming and a huge thank you to Xolo and Angel for spending their time up here and talking with all of you guys.
Originally published at https://www.joblo.com/blue-beetle-trailer/