Interview – ‘Blue Beetle’ star Xolo Mariduena and director Angel Manuel Soto discuss their new DCU trailer!

Recent college grad Jaime Reyes (Xolo Mariduena, Cobra Kai) 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 armour capable of extraordinary and unpredictable powers, forever changing his destiny as he becomes the super hero Blue Beetle.

To celebrate the release of the highly anticipated trailer for Blue Beetle, I was lucky enough to attend a virtual launch and Q+A with star Xolo Mariduena and director Angel Manuel Soto as they discuss the excitement of watching the trailer with an audience, and what people can expect from the film.

First, how does it feel getting to watch that trailer with an audience?

Xolo Mariduena: I have the jitters! Every time I see the trailer, I get so excited. But to be able to finally show it to all of you, it’s a pleasure. It looks sick. I look at the screen and I’m like: “that’s me! What the heck!?”

Angel Manuel Soto: It doesn’t get old. I thought it was going to get old! But damn, to see it with you guys here felt like the first time I saw it.

Every time you make a film, it feels like you’re creating a family on set. Can you talk about that amazing cast everybody got to see up there, and what makes this cast so special on and off screen?

Angel Manuel Soto: One of the things we really wanted to do with the cast was to be as authentic as we can. We tap into almost three generations. We see the immigrant family who bring their children here, and then they have children born here. It was important to tap into those generations authentically.

Like Xolo, who was born here. He is Mexican American. And then you have characters like George Lopez, who’s been here for a minute and is a national treasure. Then I wanted to tap into what I consider to be the best actors from Mexico City, which is Adriana Barraza. These are people that I really respect from movies I saw growing up in Mexico that really inspired me to become a filmmaker.

These are not ‘Hallmark’, cookie-cutter Latino’s. They took the film and made it theirs. They took their fun very seriously! And for me as a director, the most satisfying thing is to be able to get that authentic chemistry from a collective that feels like something I grew up in.

Xolo, one of the best aspects of this character is that he’s new to being a superhero and doesn’t know anything about how to be one. What was it like for yourself being new to playing a superhero, and getting to know the character and the story?

Xolo Mariduena: To Angel’s point about family, we see some superheroes who are able to hide from their family that they are a superhero, but as you see in the trailer, his [Blue Beetle’s] family is right there for his first transformation. So, you hope they’re good at keeping at secret! To come through this journey together is something that I think we haven’t seen before in superhero movies, and that really is the beating heart of this movie.

This was my first time being a superhero and coming into a character like this, it can’t happen without family. That’s the theme whether you’re Latino or not. It transcends ethnicity. It transcends colour of skin. Because it’s something we can all relate to. The exciting part is that we are unapologetically Latino!

Maybe there will be a second or third one and we can do a lot more with the alien stuff, but the stuff you see in this movie is tangible and feels rooted in today’s world. Plus a little bit of extra magic in there. The vision was to have Blue Beetle on the same level as Batman or Superman, who have Gotham City and Metropolis that are the beating hearts of their comics. So, it was great to create a world where he feels like he fits. It was such a humbling and honouring experience.

When you’re reading comics like this, you look for parts of yourself in the character. Why is Blue Beetle a movie for everybody?

Angel Manuel Soto: Well, because I am like everybody. And Xolo is like everybody. I am special just like anybody else. My culture is not a buzzword. Latino is not a genre. We exist and coexist. And for me to be able to integrate those things that make us special—it’s like a flavour, right?

People laugh differently, but it’s still laughter. We grieve differently, but there is still lose. It’s always nice to see something like that. To see superheroes we love and cherish, but see it in a way that invites the whole audience to the party!

You also chose to film this movie in the IMAX Enhanced aspect ratio. What led to that decision, and why should people see this film in IMAX?

Angel Manuel Soto: I mean, IMAX is the shit! It’s such an immersive aspect ratio. I try to be as immersive as I can with the projects I do, and the scope of IMAX allows you to be swallowed wholly into the frame. It feels spiritual, like you have a connection to it.

Thank you to Warner Bros. for access to this very special trailer launch! Blue Beetle hits Australian cinemas on August 17.

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Nick L'Barrow
Nick L'Barrow
Nick is a Brisbane-based film/TV reviewer. He gained his following starting with his 60 second video reviews of all the latest releases on Instagram (@nicksflicksfix), before launching a monthly podcast with Peter Gray called Monthly Movie Marathon. Nick contributes to Novastream with interviews and reviews for the latest blockbusters.

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