As we wait to see where James Gunn and Peter Safran take the DC Extended Universe, three films from the previous regime will arrive in theaters this year. THE FLASH and AQUAMAN AND THE LOST KINGDOM are the two anchors in large part because the title characters have already appeared on the big screen. The wildcard among the three is BLUE BEETLE, due in August.
For those unfamiliar, “Blue Beetle” has had several comic incarnations in the DC comic universe. Actually, the character didn’t originate at DC. It was a character created by Fox comics, which was later owned by Charlton comics. When Fox introduced the character in 1939, “Blue Beetle” was the alter ego of Dan Garret, a police officer who gained powers from a special vitamin.
When Charlton comics took over the character in 1964, his back story was retconned in several ways. First, an extra “t” was added to Dan Garrett’s name, and they shifted his career from police officer to university professor. More importantly, they did away with the vitamin backstory and replaced it with a mystical scarab as the source of his powers. Two years later, in 1966, the character was modified again. This time “Blue Beetle” was embodied by Ted Kord, a student of Dan Garrett. Years later, DC bought the rights to the character.
In 2006, yet another “Blue Beetle” was introduced. Gone was Ted Kord, and Jaime Reyes – a teenager living in Texas – took over the role. The upcoming film focuses on Jaime Reyes.
This is a roundabout way of saying that “Blue Beetle” has been around for some time. He’s not a new character, though he may be to most film fans. That may change, thanks to a winning trailer that dropped today. Quite frankly, the trailer arrives not a moment too soon. That’s because the tracking data for the film has been alarmingly low.
Just take a look at the awareness numbers. As of yesterday, before the trailer arrived, awareness for the BLUE BEETLE (dark yellow) film was at a low 21%. By comparison, awareness for BLACK ADAM (light yellow) – another newly introduced DC character – was at 33% at the same distance from release. Awareness for SHAZAM! FURY OF THE GODS (brown) was higher at 39% in large part because it’s a sequel.
It’s worth noting that by the day of release, awareness for BLACK ADAM was actually higher than for SHAZAM!.
On the interest side, BLUE BEETLE (dark blue) sits at 5.4, just below BLACK ADAM (light blue) and SHAZAM! (black) at the same distance from release. As a sidebar, not only was awareness for SHAZAM! lower than BLACK ADAM on the day of release, so was interest. And by a fairly wide margin – two signs that SHAZAM! was on a path to underperform.
Back to BLUE BETTLE, the brightly-hued trailer is interesting in that it does away with several teenage superhero tropes. In “Spider-Man,” for example, Peter Parker hides his identity from his family. Not so for “Blue Beetle.” Furthermore, his family appears supportive of the character’s evolution.
The film may be off to a lackluster start in terms of awareness and interest, but none of that will matter if the scores start to rise. So, over the next few weeks, all eyes will be on BLUE BEETLE to see how much of a bump the films get from this trailer.