As the fourth live-action DC movie of this year, Blue Beetle initially didn’t have a lot going for it. The character is comparatively lesser known even among franchise fans; movie promotion was nonexistent due to the ongoing writer-artist strike; no big names were associated with the flick, and the movie remained separated from the existing DCEU. In fact, after seeing Blue Beetle, one might argue that a lot of 90s action movie tropes have been used in the making as well.
Therefore, it is understandable that viewers were pleasantly surprised after seeing how Angel Manuel Soto’s third feature film has managed to surpass expectations by not only handling the superhero movie basics like drama, action, VFX work, humor, fight choreography, and value of legacy a lot better than most of the recent big-budget entries but also portraying even a compelling representation of Latinidad through an earnest, honest worldview. Blue Beetle turns its basic premise of a superhero origin story into one of its USPs, as without depending on bigger IPs, the ability to tell a self-contained story that respects the core essence of the character is going to stick with the viewers a lot more than the event-filled, vapid movie ventures we have seen this year.
Who Is Victoria Kord? What Is The OMAC Project?
Blue Beetle begins on a remote Arctic frontier, where a private exploration party has dug up a spherical object of certain importance, which encases something vital. Victoria Kord, the owner of the conglomerate Kord Industries, enters the scene, assisted by her trustworthy bodyguard, General Ignacio Carapax, to oversee the operation. The encasing is presumed to contain a mystical artifact known as the ‘Scarab,’ and after searching over fifteen years for this elusive, one-of-a-kind relic, Victoria is certain that she has found it this time.
After the demise of their father, Victoria’s brother, Ted Kord, inherited the family fortune and pushed for more altruistic approaches by swerving away from the family’s prime arms manufacturing business. After Ted’s mysterious disappearance, Victoria assumed control of the company and wiped out the legacy of Ted by doubling down on her effort to resume the weapon-making business, an effort that culminated in the OMAC (One Man Army Corps) project. By creating a neural link with a fortified exoskeleton, the OMACs will allow their users to access and operate vast artillery and destructive powers, which can change the course of military warfare forever. In order to make the OMACs fully functional, Victoria wants to access the Scarab, for reasons that gradually unfold as Blue Beetle progresses.
Meet The Reyes: How Did Jaime Come Across The Scarab?
The scene moves to Palmera City, where a young, starry-eyed Jaime Reyes, freshly graduated from Gotham City University, is returning to his hometown, and the Reyes family, consisting of his father Alberto, mother Rocio, grandma Nana, uncle Rudy, and sister Milagros, are eagerly awaiting his arrival. After a warm welcome, Jaime is quickly brought up to speed with the dismal situation his family is facing, as he learns a lot has changed since the time he left his home to pursue a degree in pre-law.
Jaime is appalled after learning that his father Alberto has lost his job at the automobile shop, leading to the family going through a financial crisis; they are on the verge of losing their house as well due to months of unpaid rent, and Alberto has suffered a heart attack as well. Life for the Reyes family has been especially tough as a part of the marginalized Hispanic community residing in Palmera City’s outskirts (Edge’s Key); they have been the silent sufferers of aggressive expansion and the systematic exploitation of capitalist giants like Kord Industries. After Victoria Kord became CEO of the company, the economic crisis in the form of land grabbing, privatization, and other corporate menaces wreaked havoc on the livelihood of the community. Jaime blames himself for not being able to provide for his family as he aspires to, and he is comforted by his sister Mili and their father, Alberto.
Months later, Mili has managed to get a job for both herself and Jaime at the mansion of Victoria Kord, a far cry from Jaime’s dreams of pursuing grad school and landing a prime job, but this has to do for now. While working at the mansion, Jaime overhears an argument between Victoria and her niece, Ted Kord’s daughter Jennifer, who is against Victoria’s idea of profiteering off of the weapons of global destruction, just like her father was. Victoria threatens Jenny and mocks her philanthropic approaches, and her bodyguard Ignacio almost apprehends Jenny when Jaime decides to catch them off guard by interrupting. This leads to Victoria promptly firing both Jaime and Mili on the spot, and later Jenny meets Jaime to let him know that they can discuss a job opportunity if they meet the next day at Kord Tower.
Enthusiastic about finally getting a chance to uplift his family from the miserable situation, Jaime arrives at the Kord Tower the next day. In the meantime, Jenny has learned that the mystical azure Scarab is somehow related to powering the OMAC project, so she steals it from the R&D facility and stows it inside a burger box to avoid suspicion. The chief scientist associated with the project, Dr. Jose, notices the Scarab to be missing and orders a complete lockdown of the facility. Spotting Jaime in front of her, Jenny entrusts him with the box but emphasizes never to open it at any cost. Unfortunately, as Jaime returns home, his family jokingly implores him to open the box, considering a peep won’t hurt, irrespective of what the box contains.
Blue Beetle Takes Flight: What Did Jaime Learn About The Scarab?
The Scarab inside the box gets activated as Jaime takes it in his hand, and it suddenly latches right onto his face. Efforts to remove the Scarab result in failure, and soon it attaches itself to Jaime’s spine, creating a carapace-like blue or black exo-armor around Jaime’s body in a visceral body horror sequence. Before either Jaime or his family can understand exactly what is going on, the suit’s AI system activates, and to run a test of its programming, it bursts Jaime right through the roof and propels him directly to space. After a sequence of other tests like flight and protective shield generation, which create a chaotic situation in the city, the suit takes Jaime back to his home.
Jaime goes to check up on Jenny to seek answers regarding the Scarab situation and rescues her when he sees her being hunted by private military outside the Kord building. He takes Jenny to the Reyes household, where she reveals that the Scarab is an artifact of unknown origin that can be wielded as a weapon of mass destruction, which is why her aunt wants to use it to power her OMAC project. Although she is unsure why it got attached to Jaime, she can find ways of detaching it from his body by accessing a certain ‘key’ from Kord Tower. Thanks to tech genius Uncle Rudy’s help, Jaime and Jenny manage to sneak into the place and steal the ‘key,’ which turns out to be a modified watch that belonged to Ted Kord. As Jenny and Jaime exit the building, they are confronted by Carapax, whose assault is thwarted by Jaime’s exosuit AI, which once again forms the protective exosuit around Jaime’s body. Carapax uses his incomplete OMAC suit to attack Jaime, and the suit’s AI, revealed to be a being called Khaji Da, lays waste to him by accessing its vast morph-weaponry system. However, as Khaji Da proceeds to use lethal measures, Jaime stops her, stating that he is unwilling to take lives. Carapax attacks once again, and this time Rudy and Jenny save Jaime and flee the scene.
Jenny takes them to her father’s dilapidated mansion, where she accesses a secret lair using the watch. Turns out, Ted Kord was Palmera City’s original superhero, Blue Beetle, and used his family fortune to create a plethora of gadgets and technology to operate as a crimefighting hero. They also learn that the Scarab, Khaji Da, ‘chose’ Jaime, just like it chose Kord’s mentor, Professor Dan Garrett, years ago, who was the original Blue Beetle. Despite Khaji Da never bonding with Ted, he spent his lifetime in an effort to learn about the mystical, possibly alien-born sentient being and took up the mantle of Blue Beetle to operate as a self-made vigilante. Jaime finds out that the Scarab is slowly fusing itself with his body by altering his physiology from within. On the other hand, returning home after years triggers Jenny’s painful recognition of the loss of her parental figures, and in seclusion, Jenny shares her feelings of loneliness with Jaime, as visiting his family has made her unattainable yearning for belonging even more tragic.
Meanwhile, Rudy discovers that the Scarab can never be detached from Jaime’s body as long as he is alive. It has formed a neural bond and will seek to protect its ‘host’ at any cost. Jaime, who already had more pressing family concerns to address, feels disgruntled after being shoved into another inescapable situation. Uncle Rudy manages to comfort him, suggesting that perhaps he was chosen by the Scarab for a reason they still haven’t understood.
Home Invasion: How Does Victoria Plan To Use The Scarab?
Elsewhere, Victoria learns about Jaime’s identity as the Scarab exosuit-wearing teenager and sends her private militia to the Reyes household to capture him. Jaime, Jenny, and Rudy notice Victoria’s helicopter moving towards Edge’s Key. Jaime forces the Scarab out by jumping off of the mansion’s roof and heading toward his home. A harrowing scenario follows as the militia drags the members of the Reyes family outside their house and rounds them up at gunpoint. Jaime arrives just in time to take down the cavalry using his suit’s advanced (non-lethal) weapon system and allow his family to escape. However, while rushing, Mili takes a fall, and while saving her, Alberto is badly hurt by one of the militia members, which triggers a cardiac arrest as he collapses on the ground. Jaime gets distracted, giving Carapax and Victoria an opportunity to taze and capture him. Alberto dies, and the family home is burned down, leaving the Reyes family completely devastated.
In the absence of her father, Nana, the grandmother, holds her family close and states that instead of mourning at the moment, they should try to rescue Jaime first. Jenny helps the family as she takes them to Ted’s modified aircraft, ‘Bug,’ and provides an arsenal of unique gadgetry created by him, which they can use to rescue Jaime from Paco Island, where most of Victoria’s armament operations are conducted.
At her Paco Island fortress, Victoria seeks to extract the still-attached Scarab’s coding into her OMAC armor’s functioning database, a process that can kill Jaime in the process, but she couldn’t care less about that. Along with the extraction process, a parallel link is joined with Carapax’s body armor to turn him into the first OMAC exo-armor host.
Did Jaime Manage To Save His Family?
During the extraction process, the neural overload nearly ends Jaime’s life, and he enters a comatose state, where, in a vision of the afterlife, he is visited by his deceased father, Alberto, who assures Jaime about his greater purpose in life of taking up the Blue Beetle mantle. As Jaime finally accepts Khaji Da as his symbiotic protector, they biologically synchronize with each other perfectly. All the while, the code transfer gets completed, and Carapax gets encased in a more powerful, enhanced version of OMAC armor.
The Reyes family breaks into the Paco Island fortress and, using the bug, decimates hordes of militia. Mili and Jenny come across a large set of OMAC suits that were getting powered by Scarab’s energy and destroy them using Ted’s explosive gadgets, but the duo eventually gets separated when the explosion collapses part of the fortress. At the extraction facility, Jaime is awakened but is unable to use Khaji Da as it is going through a system reboot. Dr. Jose, finally fed up with being belittled by Victoria’s racist jabs, undergoes a change of heart and allows Jaime to escape the facility and save his family. Jaime rushes to find them and confronts a group of militia, and to his utter surprise, a minigun-wielding Nana comes to his rescue.
After briefly reuniting with his family, Jaime returns to the fortress to rescue Mili and Jenny, now with a fully functional exosuit. Now perfectly utilizing Khaji Da’s armor control capabilities with his command, Jaime rescues Mili and finds opposition in the empowered version of Carapax. Meanwhile, Victoria takes Jenny captive and prepares to depart the island, but Jenny manages to crash the helicopter using one of Ted’s unique gadgets. Jenny and Victoria turn out to be the only survivors of the crash, and Jenny destroys Victoria’s device containing the data on Scarab, terminating any future possibility of replicating the OMAC project once and for all.
Jaime initially gains the upper hand in the battle by displaying brilliant control over weapon morphing and even being able to conjure weapons using his imagination, but Carapax manages to pin him down using his superior warfare experience. Uncle Rudy tries to distract Carapax, leading him to fire at his position. Believing yet another of his family members has become the victim of the aggressors, Jaime gets infuriated and starts unloading vicious blows on Carapax, neutralizing him. A vengeful Jaime prepares to deliver a death blow to Carapax when Khaji Da stops him, reminding him of his aversion to taking lives. Khaji Da also shows him Carapax’s past memories, which she was able to access during the data transfer procedure, which reveal that Carapax was a victim of white imperialism, much like Jaime and his family.
Right from the destruction of his household during childhood, his mother’s death caused by bombing, courtesy of Kord Industries, a result of the militaristic occupation of South America led by the United States, to getting experimented with for Victoria’s armament procedures, Carapax has remained a pawn for his whole life. Jaime spares Carapax’s life, and his act of kindness triggers a timely realization in the latter’s mind as well: he no longer obeys Victoria’s commands. Carapax overcharges himself, which results in an explosion that kills him and Victoria and demolishes the entire island. Rudy arrives just in time to board the Bug and manages to rescue Jaime and Jenny. With the Reyes family reunited, they finally have the moment to grieve for Alberto.
At the end of Blue Beetle, Jenny takes over Kord Industry in the aftermath of Victoria’s death and, in a press release, clarifies her position to totally abandon every kind of military or armament project for good. The Reyes family returns to the nearly destroyed family home, and as they ponder future uncertainty, the entire neighborhood community comes out to welcome and comfort them. Jenny pays a visit to let the family know that she wants a skilled inventor like Rudy working for Kord Industry and that she will reimburse the family home as well. Jaime musters the courage to ask Jenny out, and as they share a kiss, Jaime flies away with Jenny through the skies of Palmera City.
Blue Beetle‘s mid-credits scene opens in the Beetle Lair of Ted Kord, where computer systems turn on their own as a voice recording of Ted Kord reveals that he is alive and wants this update to be relayed to his daughter.