‘Blue Beetle’ Director Angel Manuel Soto Is Relieved That His Characters Have a DCU Future
THR – Director Ángel Manuel Soto and his DC film Blue Beetle have prevailed over a number of obstacles en route to Aug, 18th’s theatrical release.
As the first mainstream Latino-led superhero film in live action, Soto and co. have overcome the lack of proper Latino representation that has existed for generations, while introducing a much-needed hero in Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña), as well as his thoroughly developed Latino family, the Reyeses.
Blue Beetle producer Zev Foreman originally had theatrical ambitions, but given WarnerMedia’s emphasis on streaming at the end of 2020, the project was designated as an HBO Max release. However, in December 2021, just months prior to WarnerMedia’s merger with Discovery, the powers that be at Warner Bros. decided to upgrade the film to a theatrical release, allowing Latino audiences to finally have their moment in the live-action superhero genre.
“We wanted to see our history and our legacy on the big screen, in a way that is respectful, and that was an opportunity that we didn’t want to miss,” Soto tells The Hollywood Reporter. “So it was something that we were very committed to, and we wouldn’t take no for an answer. And eventually, Warner Bros. saw it fit, and they allowed us to go back into the theaters.”
Unfortunately, Blue Beetle’s release coincides with the SAG-AFTRA strike, which means Soto’s cast members are unable to promote and share the film through various press opportunities, premieres and fan screenings. But Soto has picked up the promotional slack by honoring his cast’s work in their absence, and he’s also updating them every step of the way in a group text.
“It is heartbreaking. I wanted them to have their moment. This is their moment,” Soto says. “But at the same time, it’s a necessary thing. So, having them actually sacrifice this opportunity to be on the picket line and to fight for a better future — not only for them, but also to secure something better for future generations to come — is a heroic act of its own.”
April’s 2021’s merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery to form Warner Bros. Discovery eventually led to new DC Studios leadership in the form of James Gunn and Peter Safran. This changing of the guard initially put Blue Beetle in a bit of a gray area regarding the future of its characters and storylines. Fortunately, it didn’t take long for Gunn to anoint Maridueña’s Blue Beetle as the first DCU character, which took a huge weight off Soto’s shoulders.
“Yeah, that was for sure one of the elements of relief. It’s the fact that all of this effort was not going to die during this regime change,” Soto admits. “There’s also a belief in our characters, who are now going to be part of this new DC universe, especially Xolo’s character and his whole family and Bruna Marquezine’s character. So, knowing that they are going to continue to move forward in the DCU allowed me to feel relief for myself and for them.”
Below, during a conversation with THR, Soto also discusses his initial Bane pitch and why he was hesitant to say yes to Blue Beetle at first.
Well, these are very strange days, obviously, so how’s your solo tour going so far?
Man, the traveling gets tiring, but the energy of the interviews and the fans and the screenings is so intoxicating that it just gives you a second wind. So I feel great. We’re in Toronto right now, and yesterday’s fan screening had a lot of cosplay. People were waiting in line for hours outside to go into the movie. So, knowing that we made something with a lot of love and that we put our hearts and souls into it — not just me as the director, but all the actors — it’s very reassuring that it’s translating in that way with a lot of energy and enthusiasm.