In an interview with Screen Rant, Blue Beetle concept artist Phil Boutte spoke in detail about the original conception for Jamie Reyes’ uncle — and how he was “surprised” when Lopez was cast in the role. “Lopez, they had him in mind, but it wasn’t initially him. It was going to be somebody that was skinnier and wiry,” Boutte said.
“His look, the mullet and all that? Just imagine an aged Mexican rocker,” he continued. “And then George came in, and then Mayes was doing the fittings with him and everything and going back and forth and they were finding his character. Those elements strangely still worked and it was just hilarious.”
Blue Beetle’s Latino-led cast
Lopez, a comedian and former star of his own eponymous ABC sitcom, joined Blue Beetle lead Xolo Maridueña in a cast of Latino performers who make up the heart and soul of Blue Beetle’s story. Instead of simply telling a standard superhero origin story about Jamie chosen by The Scarab to become the Blue Beetle, director Angel Manuel Soto wanted to emphasize the teenager’s growth in his family and his hometown of Palmera City. Authenticity was key in Soto’s casting process, which earned Blue Beetle high praise from Latino Hollywood organizations.
“Initially, my goal with finding the family was to be able to have an authentic group of people, not just as authentic on the Latino side, but authentic on the accents and authentic on the experience overall, it was very important for me to have the elders in the family to be from Mexico,” Soto said. “And more than just being from Mexico is honoring those amazing beloved actors from Mexico that have paved the way not just in Latin American cinema, but also crossing over to the Anglo-Saxon community and Latin American community in the United States.”
The director continued, “And then you have somebody on the younger side, the new blood that’s coming in, like Belissa [Escobedo] and Xolo, they’re Mexican American,” added Soto. “And tying them with the guys that came before which have a strong history of being born in Mexico and then coming over to the US. Being able to provide a Mexican family, a brown Mexican family, that embraces that level of authenticity, I think this cast allowed us to have all of that.”
Blue Beetle is now playing in theaters.