Blue Beetle director ?ngel Manuel Soto knew that making the first major superhero movie with a Latino lead would require a pitch-perfect cast. That included the voice of the alien Scarab, which becomes the Blue Beetle’s exoskeleton supersuit when it attaches to host Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridue?a).
So, whom did he cast? None other than Mexican-American pop superstar Becky G!
“I really wanted to work with Becky G,” Soto raved to ET’s Ash Crossan in a recent interview. “She represents a lot to the community, and she is a testimony also of that resilience and being able to represent. And for us, it was very important to have somebody with that charisma, with that expertise, with that reach to play this world-destroying weapon.”
Blue Beetle is just the start of the new DCU slate of superhero films, and Soto said he knows that the relationship between Jaime and the Scarab, named Khaji-Da, will be an important part of the character’s evolution moving forward.
“This is the beginning of their relationship,” he said. “As we keep going on the other iterations — like the second movie, the third movie — that relationship is gonna grow and the dynamics and the banters are gonna grow. So we wanna be able to track the growth.”
A powerhouse cast — which also includes George Lopez, Harvey Guill?n, Bruna Marquezine, Belissa Escobedo, Adriana Barraza, Dami?n Alc?zar, Raoul Max Trujillo, Elpidia Carrillo and Susan Sarandon — wasn’t the only thing Soto employed to give the world of Blue Beetle its authentic flavor. He and screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer also worked together to subvert some classic superhero tropes in ways that felt more true to their culture.
“He’s from Mexico, and I am from Puerto Rico. So one of the things that we really wanted to hone in is things that connect us as Latinos, right?” the director recalled of shaping theBlue Beetle story. “There’s a lot of specificities that I think when we embrace that in the story we open up ourselves to the universality that connects us as different cultures. And one of the things that we started to connect on was the fact that… it’s very hard to keep a secret from our mothers, from a Latino mother.”
“We wanted to play with that idea of not being able to hide your identity from the people that love you the most,” he continued. “And on top of that, if one family member knows it, everybody else is gonna know right away. It identifies us in a beautiful way, and brings the family to be, not just part of the story, but an integral part of the development of our superhero.”
Not only are they there to support Jaime, Soto explained, but the Reyes family is an integral part of his hero’s journey.
“We wanted to give each family member a heroic arc,” he shared. “We didn’t want them to be one dimensional. We want them to actually be representative of the people that have actually paved the way for us Latinos for our generation to be where we are now.”
Soto lamented that his talented cast was missing out on the chance to “receive their flowers,” as they’re unable to promote the film during the ongoing WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. But he reiterated that the Blue Beetle stars “understand that there’s a heroic moment right now, that they need to be part of the right side of history.”
“They know what this means, not just for the cultural side, but for every other kid out there who has never seen themselves represented, being able to do that for them,” he marveled. “For me, having them fight the good fight, knowing that all the sacrifices that they’re doing are gonna pave the way for future generations to enjoy better pay and better treatment, it only fills me with energy to keep promoting this film for them.”
“The best way to recognize, not only their sacrifice, but also support them for their future careers, and hopefully, the future of more diverse storytelling by people who come from those communities, is by showing up at theaters on Aug. 18 and letting the people know that we have their backs,” he continued. “It’s taken us this long to be here, and it’s sad that the strike is happening right now, so that they cannot receive their flowers, when they’re supposed to receive it. I think the best way to show them that we love them is by showing up in the theaters.”
Blue Beetle flies into theaters Aug. 18.