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Ángel Manuel Soto helming DC Films’ first Latino superhero film ‘BLUE BEETLE’

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3rd generation of the comic book gets the movie treatment.

Latin Horror  Warner Bros. and DC Films announced they have inked a deal with Puerto Rican-born writer/director Ángel Manuel Soto to helm a film adaptation of the ‘BLUE BEETLE‘ comic book, a development first reported by Umberto González of The Wrap. Soto, who is repped by Creative Artist Agency (CAA), has also been in the news of late for being tied to the forthcoming Scarface reboot.

Soto’s feature debut, La Ganja (The Farm, 2105), focused on the trails and tribulations of a promising young boxer’s pursuit of happiness and unanticipated consequences during the economic collapse of the island of Puerto Rico. His most recent project Charm City Kings, based of Lotfy Nathan‘s documentary 12 O’Clock Boys (2013), tracks a teenager from Baltimore on a mission to join a notorious group of dirt-bike riders. Kings premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020 and can currently be found on HBO Max.

Director Angel Manuel Soto.
Director Ángel Manuel Soto.

“It is an honor to direct Blue Beetle, the first Latino superhero film for DC,” said Soto in a statement. “I want to sincerely thank everyone at Warner Bros. and DC for trusting me to bring Jaime Reyes to life. I can’t wait to make history together.”

— Ángel Manuel Soto

Since the film is in the development stage, not much information is available on the project. The DC Films / Warner Bros. production, however, is slated to start principal photography later this coming 2021 fall season.

BUT THIS MUCH WE DO KNOW: Blue Beetle is not a Johnny-come-lately addition to the über-overcrouded superhero universe. Our noble Pancrustacean first surfaced back in August 1939 in the Mystery Men Comics #1 as part of the Fox Comics anthology imprint created by Charles Wojtkowski. That’s less than a year after Superman (“the man of steel”) entered the scene, and three months before Batman (“the caped crusader”) first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in May 1939 (later showcasing in his own stand-alone soon-to-be pantheon in 1940)!

The property later landed in DC’s hands during the 1980s.

The Blue Beetle character has actually been through three different iterations over its life cycle: starting out as Dan Garrett in the original 1939 publication, morphing into Ted Kord in 1966, and the most recent transformation, Jamie Reyes, a Mexican-American teenager in 2006. In that regard, Blue Beetle is a golden age legacy comic that evolved into a modern-day action-oriented publication with a progressive conscience.

1939
1966
2006

There’s been a very vocal groundswell of early misgivings from the contemporary fanboy/fangirl unibase on social media and message boards since the news broke expressing deep concerns about the latest Blue Beetle character potentially being “white washed” and stripped of its ethnic sazón. For today’s generation it’s hard to imagine that the universe of this imprint once pivoted on an all-Anglo construct of a by-gone era that preceded World War II — because in many ways it has indeed become their own via natural attrition — as change is always inevitable no matter how nostalgic the past. (Don’t kid yourself: those phalanx of laundry hanging from clotheslines across tenement building windows was never as sexy as your mind’s eye now remembers it in retrospect)

According to the trades, Soto’s movie will remain true to the third iteration of the series with Jaime Reyes as the film’s central figure whose “powers come from a mysterious scarab.” Soto will also be working from a script penned by Mexican-American screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer (Miss Bala / Contrapelo). Both these developments should go a long way toward allaying the anxiety of diehard fans of the comic book.

Hopefully, Soto’s film will remain as hard-hitting as the third generation of the publication which has mirrored the real world issues of immigration, racism and inhumane policies that have led to the separation of immigrant families and caging of children in so-called “detention centers” (is that what we’re calling them now?) under deplorable conditions.

If we’re lucky, perhaps we’ll even get to see the Blue Beetle crack a racist Fascist in the mug—POW! SMACK! KARMA! It’s not too much to ask of our superheroes, after all.

Edwin "El Miedo" Pagán
Edwin "El Miedo" Pagán is the Founder-In-Chief of LATIN HORROR. Pagán is a writer, filmmaker and life-long horror fan. In 2008 he founded LATIN HORROR, an online niche market website specializing in Latin-influenced horror, its documentation, and promotion as a distinct genre. Pagán is at the forefront of the Latin "Dark Creative Expressionist" movement, a term he coined as a means of identifying the millions of lost souls who live outside the rim of mainstream society and whose lifestyle and work is grounded in horror, the macabre, and gothic arts. Currently, he is penning a book entitled 'MIEDO - The History of Latin Horror.' Trivia: He is noted for ending his written correspondence with the offbeat salutation 'There will be SANGRE!'

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