Blue Beetle director and star discuss importance of authentic Latino representation in the new DC movie

Blue Beetle
(Image credit: Warner Bros./DC)

Blue Beetle is introducing a new, young hero to the DC line-up: Jaime Reyes, played by Cobra Kai's Xolo Maridueña. The first trailer has teased a fun, family-focused adventure, which revolves around Jaime accidentally acquiring a superhero exo-skeleton suit after a mysterious Scarab chooses him.  

Star Maridueña and director Angel Manuel Soto sat down in a press Q&A to talk about the film, the importance of the Reyes family, and Mexican and Latino representation in the movie. 

"One of the things that we really wanted to do with the cast was to be able to be as authentic as we can," Soto says. "We wanted to tap into the three generations – wanted to see the first immigrant family, then when they bring their sons, and then their sons that are born here." 

As Soto explains, the cast members themselves embody this idea. The director points out that Maridueña and Belissa Escobedo, who plays Jaime's sister Milagro, are both Mexican-American, while "national treasure" George Lopez plays Jaime's uncle Rudy, and Elpidia Carrillo plays Jaime's mom Rocio. Soto also name checks Adrianna Barraza and Damián Alcázar, who play Nana and Alberto, as "the best actors from Mexico City," and adds that Harvey Guillén is of Mexican descent, and Raoul Max Trujillo, who plays Carapax, is native Mexican. 

"So being able to keep it as authentic as possible, not the Hallmark, cookie cutter Latinos," he adds. "Something that feels like, 'Yeah, that's my uncle. I can totally relate to those.'"

The Reyes family factor heavily into the trailer – and are even present for the very first step of Jaime's superhero journey. "We see some of these other superheroes who are able to hide from their family the fact that they're a superhero," Maridueña says. "But as you guys just saw in the trailer, his family is right there on that first transformation. 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.

"And 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," he continues. "And I think that's really been the most exciting part, is that although it is undeniably or unapologetically Latino, everyone will understand Milagro, everyone understands Jaime, because they are people we've interacted with in our daily life, and the problems that they're facing are problems that we know. And 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, it's all very tangible, and it feels rooted in today's world."

Soto undoubtedly agrees that the film has universal appeal. When asked what makes Blue Beetle for everybody, he replies: "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 co-exist."

He adds: "Being able to integrate those things that makes us special, because the only thing that it does – it's a flavor. It's like laughter, people laugh differently, yet [it's] 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're used to seeing a little bit with other superheroes that we love and we cherish, but we see it my way. Our way. And invite the audience also to not feel repelled by it. Come to the party, you know?"

Plus, as the director points out, "Latino is not a genre." Blue Beetle, in his words, "is a superhero movie that happens to have Latino at the forefront, that's it."

Blue Beetle arrives this August 18, 2023. In the meantime, check out our guide to all the upcoming DC movies and TV shows for everything else the DCU has in store. 

Molly Edwards
Entertainment Writer

I'm an Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, covering all things film and TV for the site's Total Film and SFX sections. I previously worked on the Disney magazines team at Immediate Media, and also wrote on the CBeebies, MEGA!, and Star Wars Galaxy titles after graduating with a BA in English.