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Rotten Tomatoes Critics Praise Blue Beetle's Latine Representation & Earnest DC Story

Finally, it seems like DC has a real, bonafide hit on its hands.

Based on the beleaguered studio's recent output — see: "The Flash," or alternately, do not see "The Flash" — fans were anxious about "Blue Beetle," the standalone origin story directed by Ángel Manuel Soto, written by Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, and starring Xolo Maridueña as the titular character. Maridueña stars as Jamie Reyes, who discovers an ancient scarab after graduating from college and heading back to his hometown of Palmera City. When the scarab more or less chooses him and grafts onto him, Jamie becomes the Blue Beetle, a superhero with an exoskeleton suit that packs a serious punch.

Critics are, by and large, honestly really loving "Blue Beetle," according to the Rotten Tomatoes reviews. Over at The Messenger, Jordan Hoffman said, "A strong cast led by Xolo Maridueña pushes this unessential superhero entry into the win column." Collider's Ross Bonaime agreed: "Blue Beetle might not be a unique take on the superhero origin story, but Soto and Dunnet-Alcocer do prove that a smaller scale, lighter approach within the DC Universe can work."

Benjamin Lee at Guardian simply appreciated the movie's levity and fresh approach: "There's a perkiness that's hard to resist and a base-level competency that's hard not to appreciate, a small beam of blue light in an otherwise dark time for superheroes."

Critics praised The Blue Beetle's embrace of the Latine community and their stories

In a post-"Black Panther" world, superhero origin stories are finding ways to incorporate diverse cultures into their storytelling, and it seems like "Blue Beetle" definitely pulls this off. Yolanda Machado at Entertainment Weekly writes, "Blue Beetle never loses sight of the community it seeks to honor, not once pandering nor offering surface-level representation of what it means to be Latino." Inverse's Jake Kleinman seconded that thought, saying, "With deep roots in Latin American culture and a tone that blends Paul Verhoeven's Robocop with Marvel's quip-based comedy (before it wore out its welcome), DC's latest movie succeeds entirely on its own terms." Yet another agreement came from David Fear at Rolling Stone: "What director Angel Manuel Soto and screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer are bringing to the screen via Reyes' rise into the good-guy ranks isn't just a genre, but a culture."

Beyond putting a spotlight on Latine culture, critics also said the loving family surrounding Jamie put the movie on a different level than some of its peers. At Mashable, Kristy Puchko wrote, "While this hero might sound like a mash-up, Blue Beetle breaks the mold by celebrating Jaime's greatest strength, his family, rather than defaulting to a story about yet another brooding solo knight." Jesse Hassenger of Paste Magazine said the characters' on-screen bonds definitely made the movie sing: "The movie seems to genuinely like these characters – and, moreover, the characters seem to genuinely like each other, lending Blue Beetle some real warmth amidst the standard business of super-suited enemies smashing into each other."

Blue Beetle is being held up as a fresh, fun take on the superhero genre

The DCEU has been in relatively dire straits as of late, and critics are noticing that "Blue Beetle" brings a new spin and breathes new life into a genre many were tired of even covering in the first place. High praise came from William Bibbiani at The Wrap, who called the film "a self-contained and smartly crafted film that ranks among the DCEU's very best. Even though, admittedly, that doesn't say nearly as much as it ought to." Variety critic Owen Gleiberman praised the movie's overall tone, writing, "The brisk, cheeky, unabashed gizmo-happy triviality of "Blue Beetle," a superhero origin story from the DC side of the tracks, is enough to make the film feel like a breath of fresh pulp."

Pete Hammond at Deadline gave credit where credit's due, saying, "It has more heart and humor than most in this well worn genre. That ought to count for something." As for David Rooney at The Hollywood Reporter, he was succinct in his phrase, simply saying the movie is "a bug worth catching."

Some critics felt like Blue Beetle was just more of the same

With all praise comes dissent, so of course, there are some critics who weren't fans of "Blue Beetle." The praise rolling in for the film still outweighs the negative reviews, but some critics simply felt disappointed that "Blue Beetle" either didn't live up to their expectations or innovate the genre the way they saw fit. As David Ehrlich at IndieWire said, "For a film that incessantly natters on about Jaime's purpose, 'Blue Beetle' has bafflingly little sense of what its own might be." At The Daily Beast, Nick Schager was quite blunt: "Arguably the most derivative offering the tired genre has yet to offer, borrowing elements from so many forebearers that it plays like a conventional pastiche."

Specifically noting that the film felt like a letdown for him, Mike Ryan of UpROXX wrote, "It's the kind of thing we've all seen way too many times before and felt extra disappointing here because there's a lot in this movie that does feel unique, but then it feels squandered." Like Schager before him, Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times was also very direct: "This is a mostly by-the-numbers origin story with underwhelming VFX, a disappointingly cartoonish villain and a final battle sequence and epilogue that follow the pattern of a dozen or more previous superhero origin stories."

"Blue Beetle" hits theaters on August 18, 2023.