Is Blue Beetle the Next DC Comics TV or Movie Star?

Are DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. positioning the Ted Kord version of Blue Beetle for TV or movie stardom?

When early casting breakdowns for Arrow season three first hit the web, fans (and this writer) immediately seized on a character named Daniel (those names are never real), an inventor who “becomes a tech-driven superhero.” Since the world of Arrow has generally shied away from superpowered characters, the immediate assumption was that “Daniel” was actually Ted Kord, the Blue Beetle.

There was other precedent for this, as well. Kord Industries was mentioned in or featured in the plot to several episodes during Arrow season two, and the show has developed an almost unhealthy love of fan-service. Of course, “Daniel” ultimately ended up being Ray Palmer, a different “tech-driven superhero” known as the Atom. Arrow executive producer Andrew Kreisberg did at least confirm that they had originally asked DC Entertainment for permission to use Ted Kord, but were told that there were “other plans” for the character.

DC Entertainment have put considerable weight behind the Blue Beetle name (if not the Ted Kord version) over the last several years. In 2006, after Ted Kord became the sacrificial lamb of the Infinite Crisis kick-off, they created a new version of the Blue Beetle, a teenager named Jaimie Reyes, who is bonded to a techno-mystic suit of armor. This Blue Beetle seemed tailor-made for exploitation outside of comics, with a sleek, anime-inspired design, and a power set that would translate beautifully to animation and video games.

That’s exactly where he ended up. And they wasted no time in doing it.

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Jaimie made a number of animated appearances, including on Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and a notably darker, more DC Universe heavy version on Young Justice. As expected, he looked great on TV. He even showed up in live-action form on Smallville, but his design and powerset their were a little less dynamic than what we had come to expect from the comics.

During the Jaimie Reyes ascendancy, Ted Kord was all but forgotten. Rarely mentioned, and seemingly eliminated completely when the DC Universe was rebooted in 2012. However, the Kord name has begun to surface again in recent comics. In fact, it’s suddenly a very encouraging time if you’re a Ted Kord Blue Beetle fan.

In the most recent round of DC Comics solicitations for December 2014, Ted Kord makes two fairly prominent appearances. The first, in Justice League 3000 #12, involves an old-school Blue Beetle/Booster Gold team-up that will certainly call back to their glory days as Justice League members. This may just seem like a small nod to the fans, especially since the book is written by the guys who co-created the special brand of superhero shenanigans that Beetle and Booster were known for, Keith Giffen and JM DeMatteis. This is kinda the Beetle of the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe (or even of the new one), although a version from a different corner of the DC Multiverse entirely. Ummmm…better just let Keith Giffen explain that to ya.

The thing is, there’s also the presence on those solicitations of Showcase Presents: Blue Beetle. The volume collects the complete Ted Kord solo series that launched in the wake of his introduction to the DCU in Crisis on Infinite Earths. It’s only 23 issues, and I can only hope that they also included Secret Origins #2, which functioned as an effective origin story/zero issue for that series. The Showcase volumes are inexpensive, black and white “phone books,” that are fairly low-risk for DC to produce. 

[related article: There’s a Crisis Coming to the DC Comics New 52]

But after barely acknowledging this version of the character’s very existence for the better part of a decade, isn’t the sudden (if subtle) resurgence of Ted Kord a little puzzling? DC Entertainment loves synergy, and if a character is getting a sudden, pronounced push in the comics these days, it’s a safe bet that there are discussions taking place elsewhere about how this character can be brought to a screen somewhere.

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So, with Andrew Kreisberg’s “other plans” comments under consideration, it’s fair to say that something’s up. The most likely scenario here remains television. DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. Pictures Television are putting considerable effort into superhero television, a strategy that is likely going to expand into the digital on-demand and streaming realms soon enough. Ted Kord would be a natural for TV, boasting a terrific, simple costume (designed by his creator, the man who co-created Spider-Man and designed that hero’s iconic suit, Steve Ditko), and a humorous, everyman vibe. If TV is looking for a show about a non-powered vigilante that can be done on an Arrow-like budget, Blue Beetle fits the bill.

But then there’s the Scoot McNairy issue. The actor is playing a mystery role in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, and speculation has run from supporting characters like Morgan Edge or Jimmy Olsen to marquee Justice League members like The Flash (the latter fueled by set photos of McNairy in post production friendly green leggings). Is there a chance that Mr. McNairy’s mystery role has something to do with the “other plans” DC and WB have for the Ted Kord Blue Beetle? Ummmm…it’s no less likely than any of the other suggestions, we suppose. If nothing else, he’s said that “I hope to be a part of the DC Universe for a while.”

However, all indications point to a Justice League movie lineup of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Cyborg, Aquaman, Flash, and possibly Green Lantern. We’re not sure where Blue Beetle would fit in, here. But we wouldn’t rule him out, either. The Justice League movie that came closest to production prominently features Maxwell Lord and OMACs, two characters who have figured prominently in the life and death of Ted Kord, and you never know if Warner Bros. may want to go down one of those roads again.

If DC Entertainment are kicking the Blue Beetle tires again, it’s a safe bet that, like they did with Jaimie Reyes, they will move quickly to see if the character has legs outside of comics. You should probably get yourself acquainted with the Blue Beetle. His complete original Steve Ditko adventures from the ’60s are available in The Action Heroes Archives Volume 2 (along with the adventures of other Charlton characters that DC has absorbed, like Captain Atom), and Showcase Presents: Blue Beetle, reprinting his DC Comics series from the mid ’80s will be available on January 28th, 2015.

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