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Monday, August 21, 2023 

Book Riot does sugarcoated spotlights on villainy, with Blue Beetle the focus, but the movie's already tanking

A writer at leftist Book Riot has written some profilings of villains in comicdom, with the latest being a villainess in the brand new Blue Beetle comics:
What is a superhero without a supervillain? Not much. Some supervillains, however, are worth a lot more than others. I have therefore decided to spotlight some lesser-known villains. Are they underrated gems or irredeemable losers who deserve to be forgotten? You decide! Today’s subject: La Dama!

In the eyes of Brenda Del Vecchio, one of Blue Beetle’s friends, Amparo was the best aunt you could ask for. She was certainly better than Brenda’s father, a violent abuser who serendipitously died in a car accident after putting Brenda in the hospital.

There was just one problem: unbeknownst to Brenda, Amparo is also La Dama, the head of a criminal empire who is determined to build her own army of magical meta-humans. And she figures out Blue Beetle is really Jaime Reyes in no time flat. Oops.
I think she just gave away quite a weakness in the writing for this early example of 21st century wokeness - the villainess discovers Reyes' secret ID in a jiffy? If it was as fast as one of the criminals in Green Lantern: Emerald Dawn 2 from 1991 figured out Hal Jordan's, a particularly laughable example co-written by the now notorious Gerard Jones, then that's honestly much too quick indeed. Sure, there've been plenty of stories in the past where villains learn the hero's secret IDs, but not in such a hurry as this item suggests.

That aside, it's also laughable to say some supercrooks are worth much more than others. It all depends on the quality of writing and characterization in the finished product. Besides, villains shouldn't be considered as valuable as heroes, and definitely not more admirable or lovable.
Like many criminals, La Dama has one big weakness, and that’s Brenda. She will do absolutely anything to keep her safe and happy, up to and including murder. She arranged her father’s car “accident” to protect Brenda, and she tolerates her friendship with Jaime because she knows the two genuinely care for each other.

Amparo and Blue Beetle each have blackmail material on each other — she knows he’s Jaime Reyes, he knows she’s La Dama — so they agree to a truce at the end of her first appearance (Blue Beetle #3-6). Needless to say, that doesn’t last real long.
It doesn't sound very interesting either. It sounds more like a tedious family feud. But, guess what happened in Blue Beetle #13?
This issue reveals that Amparo Cardenas is actually an immortal being who has gone by many names, including La Dama and Lady Styx.
Wow, so this woman goes from seemingly down-to-earth human to the role of a metahuman or a mutant instead? Talk about taking alleged potential, which something that was overshadowed by wokeness when it first began doesn't exactly have, and throwing it all out the window for the sake of bigger-is-better delusions. And I wish they'd stop calling this "revealing" when it's just "establishing".
The original version of the character is a refreshing change of pace from your normal villain. La Dama is a “big fish in a small pond” (as Batman puts it in Brave & the Bold #3) on purpose. She never became a global or nationwide threat because she doesn’t want or need that kind of trouble: her empire in El Paso provides all the money and power she needs, and she is happy with that. There’s something to be said for a villain who doesn’t let their ambition get the better of them for a change.

And then the reboot happened and threw all that out the window. It pains me to say this, since I normally like Giffen and DeMatteis’s Justice League work, but the Lady Styx business is absolutely the wrong move for this character. They took a morally complex antagonist and turned her into another generic supervillain. Maybe the fact that Justice League 3001 got canned hampered their ability to flesh out Lady Styx, but the very concept of that character goes against everything that made La Dama interesting.

I would very happily see Lady Styx dropped into a volcano, but La Dama deserves another chance — perhaps in a future Blue Beetle movie (hint, hint)?
And why does a criminal deserve another chance, but not heroes and heroines? And, why is a social justice product so special compared to what modern indie comics could offer up? That aside, it's not really surprising a comic that built at Ted Kord's expense would cast aside what was previously established after it became apparent the teflon direction wasn't drawing in the masses (and "refreshing change of pace"? Tell us about it). I vaguely recall the Asian Atom did something like at the end of its now obscure run too, with the premise that Ryan Choi was a correspondent to Ray Palmer being established as all phony in 2008. And did anybody care? Nope. That aside, based on the Identity Crisis-influenced direction taken, that's why, no matter what the writing quality, whatever they were allegedly establishing with the social justice influenced replacements for the white protagonists fails miserably. The same can be said for Spider-Man's One More Day, based on how it was built off the demolishing of Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson's marriage.

Oh, and as for the movie,John Nolte at Breitbart says it looks like the box office intake for the new, woke Blue Beetle movie is tanking:
The problem for Warner Bros./DC is that Blue Beetle cost around $125 million to produce and at least another $50 to $75 million to promote. So, until it grosses $350 million to $450 million worldwide, it will be a money loser.

To give you an idea of how low that $25 million opening is, remember The Flash? That notorious flop opened to $55 million, more than twice Blue Beetle’s (optimistic) $25 million.

Blue Beetle director Angel Manuel Soto, a guy who openly wished for former President Trump’s assassination, pre-spun the flop by blaming the actors’ strike. Yeah, there’s nothing like superstar George Lopez to drive the masses to the theaters.
And there we go again. Another Hollywood employee was going about making alarmingly offensive comments on social media, not retaining any self-control, and dooming the film's chances with any sensible person who noticed the news. It should also make clear what's wrong with Hollywood studios: they're not enforcing guidelines with their contributors.

Daniel Greenfield at Front Page notes how this movie is yet another of its sort that's supposedly about civil rights struggles:
The great wokeness awakening means that there’s no more mere pop culture, no songs or shows or movies, everything is a vital element in the great struggle between the way things are and the revolutionary vanguard. Much like Soviet propaganda, every piece of garbage is really fighting for humanity’s soul.
Much as Black Panther was created by two Jewish guys, Blue Bettle was created by a wite guy and the character was never Latino until 65 years later.
All that's being obscured, and how it's done now certainly doesn't guarantee the story's got merit. And that's another problem permeating the movie's whole setup, on which more is discussed at the link. All this reminds me of the aforementioned villainess from the comics proper: in a manner of speaking, an almost similar character does appear in the movie, but is white by contrast. Suggesting that if the filmmakers read the Reyes comics, they were impressed by certain elements, but decided to jettison the aunt being of Latina descent for the sake of the white-as-vermin cliche, played in the film by Susan Sarandon. Guess that's modern woke Hollywood for you. It's bad enough if white men are being pegged as criminals through PC lensing. Now, white women are too. In any event, the Blue Beetle comics deserve far better than this movie is shaping out to be.

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  • From Jerusalem, Israel
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