While speaking with Variety, Soto explained that he paid homage to such franchises as Mission: Impossible and Indiana Jones while crafting Blue Beetle. As for the body horror-esque sequence in which main protagonist Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña) first transforms into the eponymous superhero, Soto looked to the works of David Cronenberg. “How can we do Cronenberg for kids?” the director said of his thought process. “I wanted the energy to be fun but also tell the story about the movies that made me love movies.”
David Cronenberg is often considered to be the godfather of the modern body horror subgenre. He earned this title by writing and directing such films as 1975’s Shivers, 1977’s Rabid, and the 1986 remake of The Fly. Cronenberg’s other works include films like 1983’s Videodrome, 1988’s Dead Ringers, and 2005’s A History of Violence.
Latino culture takes center stage in Blue Beetle
Elsewhere in the Variety interview, Soto discussed the impact his Latino heritage had on his approach to Blue Beetle. The director sees a lot of himself in Jaime Reyes, and wanted to do right by the character and his story. Soto also had the goal of showing that Latinos are not a monolith, though are strong when united. Hence, the emphasis the film places on Jaime’s family. To that end, Soto hopes that Latinos and non-Latinos alike will feel represented by that dynamic. “By the end of the first act, you know this family,” he said. “You feel the warmth. You can almost smell the food.”
Blue Beetle is the first solo superhero film from a major studio to feature a Latino lead. It is due to bow later this month as part of the DC (Extended) Universe. An official synopsis reads as follows: “Recent college grad Jaime Reyes returns home full of aspirations for his future, only to find that home is not quite as he left it. As he searches to find his purpose in the world, fate intervenes when Jaime unexpectedly finds himself in possession of an ancient relic of alien biotechnology: the Scarab. When the Scarab suddenly chooses Jaime to be its symbiotic host, he is bestowed with an incredible suit of armor capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the Super Hero BLUE BEETLE.”
Blue Beetle opens in theaters on Friday, August 18.