Blue Beetle is set to hit the big screen tomorrow, Aug. 18. However, it was originally intended to be an HBO Max streaming original. The movie tells the origin story of Jaime Reyes, a recent college graduate who comes into possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology known as the Scarab, granting him superhuman abilities and a burden he’s not sure he’s ready to bear yet. According to the film’s director Angel Manuel Soto, getting Blue Beetle in theaters (and giving the Latino community the representation it deserved to see on the big screen) was a fight he was not going to back down from.
The push for a theatrical release was just one of many obstacles the team at Blue Beetle faced over the course of 2020, and into 2021. Born of WarnerMedia’s push for more streaming originals, Blue Beetle was only ever meant for the small screen, but as Soto tells The Hollywood Reporter, he and producer Zev Foreman always envisioned it on the silver screen.
“It was a collective effort,” Soto said in reference to who was the thank for Blue Beetle’s big promotion. “When I came onto the project, it was already labeled as an HBO Max thing, but [producer] Zev Foreman, who brought the project to DC, always intended it to be a theatrical release. And then with the streaming mandate that was happening at the time, it fell into that.”
Soto joined the project in February 2021, ten months before he eventually convinced Warner Bros. Discovery to make it a feature film. The importance of representation was a major talking point in his speech to Warner Bros. Discovery execs. To such an extent that he was ready to fight tooth and nail to make it happen.
“But when we were doing all the concept art and the world building, we really went above and beyond in trying to make this story feel worthy of the biggest screen possible. I wanted to present the film as a collective experience, because it makes a world of a difference. Conversations and dialogues can spark out of seeing a film with other people, but it was also to see our families on the big screen.
We wanted to see our history and our legacy on the big screen, in a way that is respectful, and that was an opportunity that we didn’t want to miss. So it was something that we were very committed to, and we wouldn’t take no for an answer. And eventually, Warner Bros. saw it fit, and they allowed us to go back into the theaters.”
Four months after Blue Beetle was formally given the theatrical treatment, WarnerMedia and Discovery merged to become Warner Bros. Discovery. There was a brief moment there when the fate of Blue Beetle was thrown into disarray, as co-heads James Gunn and Peter Safran announced their intention to revamp the entire DC cinematic universe.
Thankfully, James Gunn and Peter Safran saw the same thing in the film as WarnerMedia and have decided to grant Jaime Reyes the title of the first official superhero in the new DCU. Furthermore, his story won’t end with just Blue Beetle. Of course, a formal sequel all comes down to how well the movie performs.
Indeed, it would’ve been better to have Blue Beetle on the small screen than no Blue Beetle at all, but it sure helps that the film has been showered with positive reviews and hopeful box office projects ahead of its theatrical debut. It’s further proof that Warner Bro. Discovery was smart to listen to Soto and Foreman, and Gunn and Safran were wise to include the Latino superhero in the next chapter of the superhero franchise. It’s also a major win for the Latino community.
Blue Beetle premiers in theaters worldwide tomorrow, Aug. 18.