An Interstellar Revelation: Nana’s Triumph as the Unsung Hero of Blue Beetle

by Barbara

Amidst the impending cinematic debut of Blue Beetle, the DC aficionados have already been granted tantalizing glimpses into a pivotal juncture within the film: Nana (Adriana Barraza), the revered grandmother of Jaime Reyes (Xolo Maridueña), dons a state-of-the-art mega-gun, unleashes a barrage of fire upon a regiment of soldiers entrenched beneath an island fortress, and joyously revels in the chaos she’s orchestrating as her laughter echoes against the ceiling. This narrative crescendo forms part of a broader tapestry, unequivocally anointing Nana as the unanticipated vanguard of Blue Beetle.

Director Ángel Manuel Soto is now basking in the chorus of fans clamoring for more Nana within forthcoming DCU endeavors. Soto candidly shares, “I’ve been apprised of a grassroots campaign advocating for a dedicated spin-off, delving into Nana’s backstory. It seems a ‘Nana story spin-off’ might be on the horizon.” He confides this to EW just days before the movie’s theatrical inauguration, fueling anticipation for what lies ahead. “The demand is palpable; it’s a call we should heed. More Nana is the need of the hour.”


Barraza, the revered Mexican luminary renowned for her Oscar-nominated portrayal in 2006’s Babel, embarked on an artistic odyssey alongside Soto to infuse Nana, the matriarch of the Reyes clan, with multifaceted depth. Drawing inspiration from Blue Beetle comics, she commences as a serene, unassuming figure often engaged in comically stitching away in the background, all while Jaime’s superhero exploits disrupt the domestic landscape. However, as the stakes soar and the entire family converges to thwart impending calamity, Nana unveils her latent formidable essence.


Soto, the helmsman of this cinematic voyage, in collaboration with the screenwriter Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer, sought to honor the profound influence of women, both within his personal life and the broader Latino culture, through the character of Nana. “The women who shaped my journey, starting with my mother and extending back to my grandmother, are the bedrock of my being,” he asserts. “Their indomitable spirit, devoid of superhuman attributes, is the embodiment of heroism. Their journey, their struggle, and their perseverance are heroic narratives in themselves.”


Nana’s historical arc as a revolutionary fuels her affinity for action when the Reyes family dons their high-tech armor. Soto draws parallels with historical luminaries like Blanca Canales of Puerto Rico and the formidable women who rallied under the banner of the Zapatista Liberation Army in Mexico. “The misconception surrounding figures like them, dismissed as mere ‘nanas’ or grandmothers, is misguided. Paradoxically, it’s these very figures that exude the most formidable prowess,” Soto remarks with an amused chuckle.

In Soto’s view, Nana is veiled in a tapestry of enigmatic history and experiences, interwoven with the ancestral legacy. “Nana’s narrative encompasses an expansive terrain of memories and sagas that elude our comprehensive grasp. The rich chronicles that bear witness to the legacy of our predecessors deserve representation,” Soto affirms.

Soto’s inclusive ethos resonates across the broader Reyes family tapestry, embracing Damían Alcázar as the father, Elpidia Carrillo as the mother, Belissa Escobedo as the sister, and George Lopez as the Uncle Rudy. The auteur is acutely cognizant of the tendency within superhero cinema to relegate these secondary characters to mere props, one-dimensional conduits employed to galvanize the protagonist. “Omitting the essence of familial engagement would be an egregious disservice to our collective experiences. Their active participation mirrors the tenor of reality,” Soto adamantly asserts.

Escobedo (Hocus Pocus 2), one of the earliest participants in the chemistry read for Blue Beetle, brought her own vivacity, a reminder of the actor’s own sister, and Maridueña’s connection to Cobra Kai. Alcázar (Narcos) seamlessly embraced his role as an early entrant, embodying Soto’s vision. “I was unwavering; Damían was the irreplaceable linchpin. He’s arguably the most significant figure in the realm of Mexican acting today,” Soto extols. An additional facet of the casting mosaic is represented by Bruna Marquezine (Maldivas), hailing from Brazil, accentuating the cross-cultural essence as Jenny Kord, Jaime’s romantic interest. “The Brazilian narrative is oft eclipsed within Latino discourse due to the linguistic divide. This misjudgment is unwarranted; they epitomize the Latino spirit,” Soto avows.

However, the spotlight is steadfastly trained on Nana. “Adriana’s inclusion was non-negotiable,” Soto reminisces. “Her significance is unparalleled; her artistic legacy and dedication are insurmountable. She’s not just an actress but an adored mentor.”

Fortnight before production’s commencement, Soto orchestrated an unconventional paradigm shift: The Reyes family cast members relinquished their scripts. Soto elucidates, “Learning lines is futile if we don’t believe we embody each other’s roles. The essence lies in sharing, connecting, and imbibing each other’s narratives.” This exchange was particularly poignant for Maridueña and Escobedo, as Soto sought to facilitate cross-generational mentorship.

“Their narrative is one of resilience against staggering odds. Their sacrifices and determination have transcended personal adversity, paving the path for the generations to follow, ushering Latino actors into uncharted territories,” Soto reflects upon the contribution of Alcázar, Carrillo, Lopez, and Barraza. “As [Maridueña and Escobedo] absorbed these sagas, appreciating the trials that underpin their journey, a profound respect was kindled—a respect akin to venerating an elder within one’s own community. This respect is palpably palpable on screen, akin to an embrace.”

Blue Beetle is poised to soar into theaters, an odyssey that promises to tantalize with uncharted narratives and unconventional heroes.



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