A new superhero film hits theaters with a feel that will be familiar to all hispanics. The first live action superhero film with a latino lead “Blue Beetle” recently made its debut in theaters on Aug. 18 and immersed the DC universe into latin culture.
22-year-old Jaime Reyes, Xolo Mariduena, was the first member of his Mexican-American family to graduate from college and he returns to his home in Palmera City with a new degree and all the hope in the world. Jaime comes to find out his parents are losing the house and auto shop due to their area being gentrified by a tech firm that is known for causing global conflicts by the name of Kord Industries. Desperate for work Jaime goes on to meet with Kord industries but instead of a job he is given an alien artifact known as the scarab. The scarab also contains an entity known as Khaji Da and after examining the scarab Jaime finds himself being wrapped in a suit ultimately leading him to become “Blue Beetle”.
Blue Beetle’s original character was created in 1931 by Charles Nicholas Wojtkoski but was later reimagined and given several new identities until “Blue Beetle” was officially redefined as a Mexican American in 2006. A recent study from the University of Southern California discovered that out of 1,600 films released in the past year of 2022 only about 5.2% of speaking parts featured a latino actor and this number is even lower behind the cameras.
Palmera City where the film takes place is the first Latin city in a superhero film ever. Many pop culture references are sprinkled throughout the film such as bringing attention to beloved Latino icons such as Don Francisco from “Sabado Gigante”, critically acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro and even Chespirito’s “El Chapulin Colorado”. The soundtrack is packed with Latin classics from artists such as Los Panchos, Luis Miguel, Selena, Calle 13 and even Soda Stereo. These references may not mean much to the average viewer but “Blue Beetle” showcasing these elements truly is about more than just representation. The film also doesn’t shy away from real history with references made to the school of the Americas which trained over 60 thousand soldiers and police mostly from Latin America which was later on labeled a facility for dictators, assassins and torturers which impacted Latin America.
So why is “Blue Beetle” a big deal? Latinos are a huge part of our nation’s population and impact our countries such as by growing and helping our economy. Latinos were estimated to have contributed over 2 trillion dollars within 2020 alone. They even contribute and impact American culture by becoming musicians, chefs, business owners and influence the nation in many ways yet are rarely showcased within cinema.
Hispanic and Latino characters continue to perpetuate stereotypes when seen throughout films such as Latinos playing roles of criminals or extremely poor people struggling with immigration etc .The issue is this continues to paint a picture of Latinos in a negative light and just pushes them back. As racism still greatly exists in The United States stereotypes do much more harm than good by causing people to look at each other differently. University of Southern California also reports that more than one-third of lead Latino actors in 2019’s biggest films all were depicted as criminals. Representation is extremely important and necessary for people of color, especially latinos, and can impact us in so many ways.
Daya Sanchez is the A&E editor and photo editor for the Express. Follow her @czdayaaa.