Blue Beetle has finally arrived in cinemas and IMAX and the new DC movie features plenty of Easter eggs for eagle-eyed fans.
Not quite as many as The Flash, mind you, considering how Blue Beetle’s very much a self-contained affair, but there are plenty of nods to the character’s comic-book past.
Before we dive into all the best references in Blue Beetle, here’s your spoiler warning: we’re about to deep dive into everything that happens in director Angel Manuel Soto’s superhero flick, including plot specifics, so turn back now if you haven’t seen Blue Beetle.
Read more: Blue Beetle's post-credit scenes explained
Still here? Then let’s dive deep into Blue Beetle’s Easter eggs and references!
Wondering why there’s a very prominent signpost pointing to El Paso, Texas, in the fictional Palmera City? That’s because, in the comics, Jaime Reyes comes from El Paso; Palmera City is an original creation for the movie.
The decision to relocate Reyes has caused some controversy online, with many El Paso residents unhappy that their hero has been moved. However, director Angel Manuel Soto has previously explained that they wanted Blue Beetle to have his own city to protect, similar to how other DC heroes have their own cities.
“When you list DC superheroes, they have their own cities,” Soto told SFX Magazine. “The Flash has Central City, Batman has Gotham, and Superman has Metropolis.
Read our review of Blue Beetle: Family-driven superhero movie has heart
“To me, Blue Beetle having his own city means that we’re seeing him as a hero that’s climbing up the ladder to become A-list. But at the same time, I understand what it’s like to have a hero from your own city. We spent time in El Paso and used the architecture, the landmarks, the lights, the texture, so that we can integrate what’s special about El Paso into Palmera City.”
Speaking of the Justice League…
Batman, Superman, and The Flash
Three superheroes get name-dropped in Blue Beetle. First, Superman and The Flash are mentioned as Jaime complains that Palmera City does not have its own superhero to protect it, unlike Metropolis and Central City.
Later on, as Jaime, Jenny, and Uncle Rudy investigate Ted Kord’s old base, Jaime likens Ted Kord to Batman. “Batman’s a fascist,” snipes Uncle Rudy.
The question is: which version of these heroes are they referencing? Does Blue Beetle take place in the same universe as Ben Affleck’s Batman, or the one shown at the end of The Flash when George Clooney arrives, or a completely new timeline with a new Batman?
Watch a trailer for Blue Beetle
Seeing as James Gunn has called Blue Beetle the first character in his new DC Universe, it would seem that the Reyes family are talking about whoever ends up being Batman in the upcoming The Brave and the Bold adaptation, which will presumably launch a new version of the character.
Unfortunately, there are no other clues other than Batman being called a fascist, which implies that the new DC Universe’s Batman is, at the very least, a prolific hero known across America, including Palmera City.
Jenny Kord takes Jaime and Uncle Rudy to her former home, the Kord Estate, where she unlocks her father’s hidden base. It transpires that her father is Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle, who she presumes is dead. In the comics, Ted Kord was the second person to take on the Blue Beetle mantle, and like in the film, the comics’ version of Ted does not get his powers from a mythical Scarab but designs his own mechanisms and machines.
Blue Beetle, the film, features many references to Kord’s past, including a suit modelled on the comic book version of Kord. However, one major difference between the two versions is that Ted in the original comics does not have a villainous sister; Susan Sarandon’s Victoria Kord is an original creation for the movie, similar to Palmera City.
Read more: Every upcoming DC movie
In Blue Beetle’s post-credits scene, we discover that Ted Kord is alive and searching for his daughter, Jenny. The voice actor behind Ted – and the person who may play Ted Kord in a sequel – has yet to be revealed.
There’s also a brief mention of Dan Garrett, who is the original Blue Beetle in the comic books. We also see a homage to Garrett’s suit in Ted Kord’s base.
In the original comics released by Fox Feature Syndicate in the 1940s, Dan Garret (one “t”) was the son of a deceased police officer who fought crime and wore a bullet-proof suit. Then, during the Silver Age of comics, the rights to the character were sold to Charlton Comics and they brought him back as Dan Garrett (the “t” added on).
The second version received superpowers from a mysterious Scarab that he discovered in Egypt. Ted Kord later took over the name Blue Beetle, and DC would later buy the character rights from Charlton Comics.
That strange Bug Ship that Uncle Rudy flies towards the end of Blue Beetle? That’s canon in the comics too and is an invention of Ted Kord.
Read more: What you need to know about Blue Beetle
Now for a sort-of reverse reference: when Alan Moore originally pitched Watchmen, he wanted to use characters that were previously under Charlton Comics. However, DC decided that it wanted to bring those characters into its main continuity and used the famous story arc Crisis on Infinite Earths to start introducing them.
Moore ended up basing many of his Watchmen characters on classic Charlton Comics characters, using Blue Beetle as inspiration for Night Owl – and that’s why the Bug Ship and Owlship look so similar!
This one’s a bit of a reach (sorry) but during one of the earliest scenes in the movie, Jaime’s talking to his sister about everything “feeling so out of reach”. The line made waves online as the word “reach” could potentially be hinting at one of Blue Beetles' biggest adversaries coming to live-action.
Read more: Blue Beetle director hopes for trilogy
The Reach are an alien race and the creators of the Scarab named Khaji Da that attaches itself to Jaime Reyes. In the comics, The Reach were a group of world-destroyers who fought the Green Lantern Corps over 40,000 years ago. Although the war ended with a peace treaty being signed, The Reach attempted to get around this by using the Scarabs to attain information on certain planets so that they could eventually conquer them. The Reach come to Earth and try to take over but are thwarted by Blue Beetle.
At the beginning of Blue Beetle, we see the Scarab shooting through space to Earth, and there are a bunch of other Scarabs of different colours flying through space, too. It’s therefore very possible that any sequel could use The Reach as a nemesis for Blue Beetle – and director Angel Manuel Soto has hinted as much.
“This is the first act,” Soto told me. “We introduce the character, we introduce his family, we do not have him going out and saving the world straight away. We wanted to ground him. This one feels like a prologue to his journey, where we take our time building the world, meeting people, seeing where he lives, what he eats, how he smells.
"So that when he ends up saving his family, you think, ‘Maybe he can save the world? And maybe he can save the galaxy?’”
Could Blue Beetle end up saving the galaxy from The Reach? Soto certainly thinks he has those powers, and he’s laid the groundwork for Jaime Reyes to do exactly that.
Big Belly Burgers
Jenny Kord first gives the Scarab to Jaime Kord in a fast food container from Big Belly Burgers. That’s no random burger joint, but a reference to a very famous one from the comic books. In fact, in the source material, Big Belly Burgers is a subsidy of LexCorp, which is owned by a certain Lex Luthor…
OMACs.: One Man Army Corps
Victoria Kord wants to use the Scarab technology to build her own set of super suits known as OMAC, which stands for One Man Army Corps. Comic book artist and editor Jack Kirby invented the character OMAC, real name Buddy Blank, who he intended to be a futuristic Captain America.
Later, a group of cyborg warriors known as OMACs (which has also stood for Omni Mind And Community, Observational Metahuman Activity Construct, and One Man Army Corps) were based upon Buddy Blank. They have a long history but the first OMACs were humans who were infected with a virus that turns them into cyborgs. They have a long history with Batman, who first created a satellite known as Brother MK I, later Brother Eye, to control the OMACs. To make a long story short, the OMACs and Brother Eye go rogue and the world’s superheroes must stop them.
The OMACs and Brother Eye have a long history of almost appearing in movies: both were originally set to appear in Justice League: Mortal, the abandoned superhero team-up that would have been directed by George Miller, and the OMACs would have been in the cancelled The LEGO Batman Movie sequel.
El Chapulín Colorado
Onto some references to other media, rather than DC comics. At two points in the film, we see a claymation version of the TV show El Chapulín Colorado; the show plays on the security screens of Kord’s main building as Uncle Rudy, Jaime, and Jenny break in.
El Chapulín Colorado translates to The Red Grasshopper or The Cherry Cricket and was a spoof of the superhero genre filled with very unique Mexican and Latino humour. In our universe, though, there’s no claymation-style version of El Chapulín Colorado. The original series was live-action, with Ramón Valdés playing the titular character between 1973 and 1979. An animated version aired online in 2015, but the animation style was drawn. It looks like the DCU version of El Chapulín Colorado is a unique creation for the film.
El Chapulín Colorado was the inspiration behind Bumblebee Man in The Simpsons after the show’s creator Matt Groening watched the original series in a motel near the Mexico border.
Xolo Maridueña, who plays Blue Beetle, has previously said that his version of Jaime Reyes was heavily inspired by Infamous 2, the video game that sees you take control of DC characters and have them fight each other. However, it’s another game that the movie seemingly references.
Khaji Da tells Jaime that he can use her powers to create almost anything, and as she says that, he creates a massive sword. The weapon appears to be a reference to the huge sword the character Cloud wields in the game Final Fantasy 7.
On the box for the game, Cloud holds the huge blade behind his back, and it has an uncanny similarity to what Khaji Da creates for Jaime. Coincidence? Or is Jaime Reyes just a massive gamer?
María la del Barrio
On a few occasions, the Reyes family liken the relationship between Jaime, the poor kid from the suburbs, and Jenny, the rich businesswoman, to the relationship seen in María la del Barrio, a Mexican series that originally aired in 1995. It sees a young woman, María Hernández, from the outskirts of Mexico City, going to work for a rich businessman, Fernando De la Vega. His son, Luis Fernando, initially wants to make fun of María, but the two soon fall in love.
In other words, the Reyes family are right: the two plots are very similar (minus the whole superhero thing) but the genders are swapped.
And the theme song, which they sing, is great.
Blue Beetle is in cinemas and IMAX now. Watch our interview with the director below.