When it topped the box office in its debut last weekend, “Blue Beetle” set several impressive records, becoming the first major live-action superhero film with a Latino lead as well as the first film to break past the industry-reviving “Barbenheimer” juggernaut.
It’s arguably also the first DC movie in a while to capture the spirit of family and fun that Marvel is known for, feeling like a breath of fresh air — especially for the vastly underserved Latino moviegoing public. According to UCLA’s 2023 Hollywood Diversity Report, in 2022, only 2.3% of theatrical film leads and 6.1% of streaming film leads were Latino.
To celebrate the film’s cultural impact, we reached out to Kevin Cruz Amaya, a doctoral candidate in the UCLA César E. Chávez Department of Chicana/o and Central American Studies. Born in Santa Ana, El Salvador, and raised in the Koreatown neighborhood of Los Angeles, Amaya studies the roles played by artists like Gilbert “Magu” Luján in the worldmaking impulses of the Chicano civil rights movement — and he found plenty in “Blue Beetle” to fire his imagination.
In the fifth installment of the UCLA College video series “Silly Questions, Smart Bruins,” Amaya explains why inclusivity is crucial to superhero films, why we need an origin story for Jaime Reyes’ abuela and why the Blue Beetle could win any bug-themed brawl, antennae down.