Blue Beetle is projected to open $30 million at the box office. That doesn’t sound too bad despite Hollywood being in turmoil and DC’s last movie, “The Flash”, opening to $55 million. But with a budget of $120 million plus, the film needs all of the beetle’s six legs to be successful at the box office.
Aside from the success it needs to profit, Blue Beetle must be a success to prove that a centrally-Latin story can be as successful, if not more, as any other story.
As an aspiring Latin filmmaker, I’m grateful I’ve had filmmakers like Guillermo Del Toro, Alfonso Cuaron, and Alejandro Inarritu to look at and be inspired by. Even recently, Latin actors have found significant success. Pedro Pascal and Jenna Ortega are the first Latins in over a decade to be nominated for Emmys in leading categories, and the first time two Latin actors have been nominated for leading categories in the same year. Aubrey Plaza (Puerto Rican) was nominated for a supporting actress Emmy. America Ferrera and Ariana Greenblatt shine in Barbie. Melissa Barrera, alongside Ortega, leads one of the most popular horror franchises in Scream and does wonders in the independent film scene. Spiderman: Across the Spider-Verse celebrates its Hispanic characters with Miles Morales and his mother Rio, even changing Oscar Isaac’s Spiderman 2099 to lean even more into his Mexican heritage. Our new Snow White is Columbian in Rachel Zegler. And let’s not forget when Anya Taylor Joy made Chess cool again over COVID with The Queen’s Gambit. I could go on and on.
All of this is incredible; I feel blessed to be starting in this industry with such strong Latin role models to look up to. Admittedly though, only a few of these stories are about Latins or have Latins at the crux. While I’m appreciative of The Last of Us adding diversity in Pascal and the characters surrounding him, it is not a story about him being Hispanic. Wednesday could be argued as a Latin story with The Addams Family having Latin actors playing them, but it isn’t about the Latin experience. What is yearned for by the community is stories about being Latin and wearing its heritage on its sleeve.
That’s where Blue Beetle comes in. Without giving much away, Blue Beetle has Jaime Reyes and his family as the beating heart of the film. Without Jaime’s family, the whole film wouldn’t work. And to have such powerhouses as Damián Alcázar and George Lopez playing father and uncle respectively, in the cast they perfectly encapsulate a Hispanic household. Being Latin and how that makes somebody at their core makes this film unique.
That’s why I think Blue Beetle needs to be successful. Critically it has already become a hit, with social reactions praising its story, cast, and cultural significance. Its fans are adamant about promoting the film themselves. Dubbing themselves the #BlueBeetleBattalion, they promote the movie by making fake advertisements like a Blue Beetle Shake. It’s homegrown marketing is so successful that Warner Brothers partnered with an El Paso fan to make a documentary about El Paso skaters who are fans of Blue Beetle and connect with the character’s original home.
Again, all of this is incredible, but ultimately, the film needs to make its money back to be a success. And it can, Latins accounted for nearly 30% of movie tickets sold in 2020, with people of color also mainly watching the films in their opening weekends. So this weekend, make sure to bring your family and friends to the movie theater and watch Blue Beetle. Because the hero needs the community as much as the community needs the hero.