Blue Beetle

Unveiling the Drive Behind ‘Blue Beetle’: How Grassroots Supporters Champion the Rise of a Latino-Led Superhero Film

Two years ago, Xolo Mariduena made a remarkable presence on the red carpet of Warner Bros.’ DC feature “The Suicide Squad”. It was a kind of upcoming party, as the night before, at a surprise dinner organized by DC executives, the Cobra Kai actor found out he had just landed his biggest role yet: portraying the titular character in the action-adventure feature “Blue Beetle”. “It feels like a fairy tale,” an excited Mariduena told The Hollywood Reporter at the time.

About “Blue Beetle” Movie

Now, as “Blue Beetle” hits theaters on August 18th, the actor won’t be walking the red carpet for the film’s premiere. This is the first studio film centered around a Latinx superhero, not because Mariduna doesn’t want to, but because the film has no premiere, red carpet, or blue carpet.

Since the actors’ strike began on July 14th, “Blue Beetle” is the first major live-action release, with no press tour leading up to it. Normally, the film would have received full publicity, with its cast, including stars like George Lopez, Bruno Marquezine, and Harvey Guillen, making stops at San Diego Comic-Con and discussing the significance of the film.

Director Angel Manuel Soto says his cast isn’t able to promote the film due to the strike, “It’s heartbreaking.” “It’s their moment. We’ve yet to experience [a cinematic superhero masterpiece] that exults in our heritage, featuring characters akin to my own family and numerous other households. Thus, it’s truly regrettable that such an opportunity has been missed. haven’t gotten the attention they deserve.”

Coming after a series of unfortunate Latino representation films, “Blue Beetle” had high hopes. Originally developed with a budget of $70 million for HBO Max, it was theatrically released as a dramatic venture with a budget of about $120 million. Under Eva Longoria’s direction, alongside Hulu’s “Hit and Run” and A24’s “Problemas,” the Latino representation in Hollywood is gaining momentum. In a joint open letter published on August 9th, 27 Latino legal groups urged the public to support Latino creators, saying, “We hoped that our long-awaited cultural moment has finally arrived.”

Still, industry insiders are concerned that the film, which is tracking for a $30 million opening, won’t get the cultural moment that projects like Marvel’s “Black Panther” or “Shang-Chi” and “The Legend of the Ten Rings” had. Multiple sources in the inclusion space expressed concerns that it could lead to fewer such projects.

image credits: google

“If a project doesn’t perform well, it won’t be a year from now, ‘It was because of the strike.’ It’s going to be, ‘No, it just didn’t perform well and it’s going to happen because it’s a BIPOC project, so we tried it,'” says Michelle Sugihara, executive director of the Coalition of Asian Pacifics in Entertainment, about projects led by BIPOC creators during the strike.

It puts an unnecessary burden on the focus film. Ana-Christina Ramon, who sits on the Latino Film Institute board and was the lead author of the USC Annenberg Hollywood Diversity Report, says, “One film shouldn’t have to carry the entire weight of Latino representation in Hollywood. But its success could be a clear example that investment in Latino creatives pays off.”

Hollywood Labor Walkout has motivated Warner to run campaigns on a more grassroots level. Aside from more Latino-populated cities like Miami, Los Angeles, San Antonio, and Austin, screenings have taken place in Chicago and New York, where Soto has been working as the film’s ambassador across the continent. And studios have brought in organizations at street level to boost interest. According to an internal source of Blue Beetle, “Warner’s trying its best.”

image credits: google

The film is getting traction beyond the Latino community as well. AAPAI-centered Gold House, which helped boost initial weekend audience numbers for films like “Crazy Rich Asians”, has turned its attention to Blue Beetle and promoted it on its social accounts. Jeremy Tran, the executive director, says that collaborating organizations can fill a small gap left by actors not promoting the film. Tran says, “We’re saying what actors can’t say and encouraging everyone to come forward in support.”

Inside sources describe Mariduna as someone seen as having the potential for a career in Hollywood on the level of Tom Holland or Timothée Chalamet but is considered to be controversial and disgruntled. A close source to the actor says, “It’s a big moment for the culture and it’s not an easy thing to carry on your shoulders.” However, no matter how well “Blue Beetle” performs, it likely won’t be the last film to see his character in the rebooted multiverse being developed with DC studio co-head Peter Safran.

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