Few superhero blockbusters have had a rougher starts than Blue Beetle. After switching from an HBO Max exclusive to a theatrical movie, Blue Beetle, which looks at the heroic origins of Jaime Reyes, is technically part of the DC Extended Universe. But as we know, that cinematic universe will soon cease to exist following James Gunn and Peter Safran’s planned DC reboot.
But even if we put aside Blue Beetle’s uncertain place in the DC Universe, the film also struggled because the Actors Strike and 2023 Writers Strike made it difficult to promote the new movie. A scaled-back marketing campaign is hardly the ideal way to introduce a new DC character, so from that perspective, it’s modest box office performance is hardly a surprise. But it isn’t all bad news for the superhero movie.
For one, it opened at the top of the box office, which is a pretty impressive feat for a movie that not only had minimal marketing but was also meant to be a straight-to-streaming service release.
It also continued to play in theatres four months after its initial release date, giving the film a cinematic staying power that rivals the infamous Barbenheimer double bill. So, as Forbes points out, while a “cloud hung over [Blue Beetle’s] theatrical release,” these two factors give it a “credible silver lining.”
But what is it about Blue Beetle that people love so much? As someone who watched it and penned The Digital Fix’s Blue Beetle review, I think Blue Beetle is DC’s best movie in years. It offered a refreshing change of pace after a decade of DC movies trying and failing to be more ‘gritty.’ The DCEU has always been marketed as the MCU’s darker, more edgy younger sibling — but more often than not, DC movies have felt more drab than dark.
By contrast, Blue Beetle had a feel-good family story at its center, plenty of funny moments, and a charismatic lead. Jaime Reyes is essentially DC’s answer to Peter Parker, and the movie added an injection of fun to DC that has been sorely lacking for years.
“I guess it’s reassuring that even with all the situations that were happening at the time, the film performed in a way it was not supposed to,” director Ángel Manuel-Soto told Forbes.
The filmmaker, who did Blue Beetle’s promotional tour alone due to strike restrictions, added that “it did really well considering that promotional material was limited, there were the actors and writers strikes, there was a tropical storm the same opening weekend, there was the Barbie takeover, and still people saw it.”
Echoing sentiments from an earlier interview with us, Manuel-Soto also paid tribute to the Blue Beetle fanbase. “It has made the amount of money it has made because of word of mouth and because people connected to the story,” Manuel-Stoto added. “The reviews were great, too.”
“When you think about it, and all that, I’m like, ‘Yeah, of course, we deserve to be in theaters,’ and it reassured us that our instincts were right and that there is value in being unabashedly who we are, and to have a film that celebrates that. It’s worth having it.”