GIFFEN, ROGERS, HAMNER React To BLUE BEETLE On TV
Talking Blue Beetle with Matt Sturges
It's not something that usually happens with brand new superheroes. Although the character was just created four years ago, Jaime Reyes has already been on TV as an animated character, is showing up this year in an episode of Smallville and might even get his own TV show.
As Geoff Johns said when he announced that DC Entertainment was exploring the possibility of a live action Blue Beetle show: "Thanks to the Blue Beetle series launched by Keith Giffen and John Rogers with a great design by Cully Hamner, Jaime Reyes rocks. Great character, great story, great look. He's already appeared in animation, had action figures, and right now he's on my computer in live-action glory."
Because of his position as the chief creative officer at DC, Johns was able to share some early test footage done to see how Jaime would look on screen. Stills were released first, then DC shared the full video with fans (still available to view here).
While fans have reacted enthusiastically, Newsarama checked with the character's creators to see what they thought of the live action effects. And the response was just as positive.
"What I saw of it looked cool. Actually, it looked straight off the pages I drew! Right?" said Jaime's artistic designer Hamner, who also drew the Red mini-series that is being released this fall as a movie. "Even the actor they had looked like Jaime — perhaps just slightly older than what I pictured, but still amazingly close. I mean, even his bedroom. How weird is that? It was just a test, as I understand it, so I can’t wait to see what it looks like when they do it for real."
Giffen, who came up with the original character concept, said he also thought the actor chosen for the test looked ideal. "This is going to sound really, really funny, because I'm sure that's just a guy they got to do the test, but man... I saw that guy and I thought, 'Yeah! That's Jaime!'" he said. "It looks good. And I certainly wish the character all the luck in the world. But I really think when he appears on Smallville or if he goes into his own show, if it's not the same guy, I'm going to feel a little disappointed!'"
Jaime is not the first Blue Beetle (he's actually the third), having replaced his deceased predecessor, Ted Kord. He was created when then-editorial VP Dan DiDio approached Giffen in 2005 and asked him to come up with the next Blue Beetle.
"When I sat down with DiDio, he threw the name Blue Beetle at me and said, 'What would you do with it?' And I came up with the whole Jaime idea, with a family in El Paso and his crew," Giffen explained. "And then Cully came along and designed that costume and made it a really sharp-looking superhero suit, and John Rogers, as my writing partner on the book, really helped flesh out these characters and make them 3-D."
The Mexican-American character debuted in 2006 within the pages of the seven-issue Infinite Crisis, then got a spin-off of his own ongoing title, Blue Beetle, which lasted 36 issues. Giffen, Rogers and Hamner were the creative team when the comic was launched.
According to Rogers, a TV writer who created the current TNT show Leverage, Jaime has the type of look and cast that would play well on television.
"The test looked good for an early test, but I'd say the more encouraging thing is that Jaime as a character plays well even in that brief scene. As a 15-year veteran of TV, I know that not just Jaime, but his whole family would be a great ensemble capable of carrying a show," he said. "Smallville is a great place to take the character for a test run."
"I always thought this would make a great TV show because it's so rooted in kids being kids," Giffen said of the concept behind Blue Beetle. "They weren't superhuman."
At first, Jaime was a reluctant superhero. An alien scarab grafted itself onto his spine and turns into the Blue Beetle suit that gives Jaime a number of powers, including flight. And according to Giffen, the character's suit was depicted almost exactly like it was in the comic.
"My main fear, when I heard they were doing a Blue Beetle test, is that it would be something like Shazam, where Jaime stands there and flexes his muscle and the suit comes on him heroically," Giffen said. "But it was done almost like we did it when we revealed that the character's costume is attached to his spine, painful and frightening. I love that they put in the coda with a little sister too.
"How great is it, by the way, to see a character done on TV or in the movies and it's actually his comic book costume? No muscle suit, no screwing around with it, because people look really crappy in spandex," Giffen said. "I was really pleased with it."
The creators said Smallville also seems like a perfect fit for Jaime, since he's already a young DC hero and doesn't need to be changed to fit the storyline as the show introduces more and more of the comic book universe.
"I’m all for it. Why not?" Hamner said. "I have to admit, I’m not a regular watcher of the show, but the bits and pieces I have seen the last year or two make think that it’s actually evolving into more of a straight super-hero show. I mean, we’ve seen… what, Green Arrow, Aquaman, the JSA? I’m hearing rumors about the Superman we all know finally appearing, too. So, I’m all for Blue Beetle making an appearance and being a part of the DCU on TV."
Giffen said his one caution for the makers of Smallville is to treat Jaime like just another teenage superhero and not an ethnic superhero.
"Blue Beetle was a deliberate attempt to do an ethnic character that did not traffic in his ethnicity," Giffen said. "It wasn't about being Mexican-American. It was about being Jaime. I hope they can capture that and not turn it into some kind of issue-oriented show... something like, 'tonight on Smallville, Superboy deals with immigration!' No, that's not what Blue Beetle is about. But I was really pleased with this test, so I'm hopeful they understand the character."
All the creators were proud they were involved with the creation of a character who has gotten so much attention over the four years since he first appeared in comics.
"Of course I'm very proud that a character Keith, Cully and I created seems to have the mix of fun and depth necessary to work in different mediums," Rogers said.
"And you know, if they need anything from me at all, all they have to do is whistle," Hamner said with a laugh.
"If it goes someplace, great! Fantastic! I'd love to see what happens," Giffen said. "And if it doesn't go someplace? I have this great test footage in my computer, and I can keep going back to it to see what might have been."