Cobra Kai's Xolo Maridueña in Talks to Star as HBO Max's 'Blue Beetle'

We’ve seen an animated, Afro-Puerto Rican version of Spider-Man in Into the Spider-Verse, and several other supporting Latino characters in DC and Marvel movies. However, DC’s first Mexican-American lead hero, Blue Beetle, has his own HBO Max film on the way, and now, Xolo Maridueña (Cobra Kai), an actor of Mexican, Cuban, and Ecuadorian heritage, is in negotiations to star.

The Wrap reports that Maridueña is in talks to take on the lead as Jamie Reyes in Blue Beetle. If all goes well, the film should begin production in early 2022. As we reported last month, Blue Beetle will likely head straight to HBO Max along with Batgirl, which has already cast In the Heights actress Leslie Grace as its titular heroine, Barbara Gordon.

Charm City Kings director Angel Manuel Soto will helm Blue Beetle and Mexican-born screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer will handle the script. Dunnet-Alcocer also wrote the actioner Miss Bala starring Gina Rodriguez, and he had a hand in early drafts of the script for the upcoming Scarface remake before the Coen Brothers and Luca Guadagnino took over.

The History of Blue Beetle

There are three different incarnations of the Blue Beetle character in DC Comics. I’m not as familiar with Jamie Reyes, having grown up before his debut back when the character of Ted Kord held the mantle of the post-Crisis on Infinite Earths Blue Beetle II. It was this version of the character who also helped inspire the hero Nite Owl in Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’s landmark 1986 comic book series, Watchmen.

The first Blue Beetle was Dan Garrett, originally created for the Golden Age publisher Fox Comics in 1939 before it went out of business and the rights passed to Charlton Comics. Ted Kord made his first appearance at Charlton in 1966 before it, too, went out of business and the rights passed to DC.

It was a full fifty years later, in Infinite Crisis #3 — cover-dated February 2006 — that Jamie Reyes made his first appearance. So there is a long history with this character going back to the World War II era, and it will be interesting to see if HBO Max incorporates any of that in its Blue Beetle series, or if it will be making a fresh start with Jamie as the first Blue Beetle.

In some ways, focusing on the newer version of the character, who only has fifteen years of comics history behind him, might actually be beneficial. There is less baggage with this Blue Beetle and Jamie Reyes represents a step in the right direction in terms of bringing underrepresented minorities to the screen. Or is it less of a minority and more of a silent majority here? As The Wrap notes:

According to the MPAA, in 2017, Hispanic/Latino audiences had the highest per-capita attendance at the movies, going to the movies an average of 4.5 times a year. Latinos make up 18 percent of the population, and they buy 24 percent of the movie tickets sold in the United States. It is also worth noting, superhero movies tend to draw the most diverse audiences as Latinos made up 22 percent of the audience for “Wonder Woman” and 21 percent of the audience for “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”

If nothing else, Reyes’ background might make him more of a relatable everyman in the vein of Spider-Man. In the comics, he’s just a kid who stumbles across the Blue Beetle scarab on the way home from school, only to have it attach itself to him and form a suit of armor around him that gives him superpowers.

With Marvel running point on solo superhero films powered by Black and Asian leads, it’s high time DC stepped up to bring a Latino hero to the big screen, too. In the meantime, HBO Max subscribers should be able to welcome Blue Beetle and Batgirl right into their living rooms.

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