The key to any piece of art is to draw you in, to transfix your eyes onto the beauty within. Art can help you find your soul. Art can also drive you nuts if you get too invested in it. Couched somewhere in between is Ángel Manuel Soto’s Blue Beetle, now in theaters.

Blue Beetle is a lesser-known character from the DC universe. Played brilliantly by Xolo Maridueña, Jaime Reyes dreams of a bright future for himself. When we catch up with him in Blue Beetle, he’s graduated from college, only to come home to a destitute family. The fascinating aspect of Gareth Dunnet-Alcocer’s screenplay is the resourcefulness with which Jaime and his family are capable; the love and care for each other and their community bring a sense of pride to the viewer.

Damian Alcázar plays Alberto Reyes, Jaime’s father, Elpidia Carrillo plays his mom, Rocio, and Belissa Escobedo plays Milagro. The dynamic within the Reyes’ family is wholesome in its depiction and one of the best truths to come out of a comic book-based story in quite some time.

For a good portion of Blue Beetle, you feel connected to a cultural experience not often shared with outsiders. Through the laughs and jabs between siblings, the constant, familiar volleys between mother/father and son, there’s a visceral richness between the actors and the characters that draw you into the screen, anchored by Maridueña’s performance, as if we were invited to their dinner table to enjoy a meal and share a moment about our day.

It is insightful and meaningful.

The extended family is where a significant portion of the gut-busting humor comes from, George Lopez’s Uncle Rudy and Adriana Barraza’s Nana. They both bring levity to the film’s proceedings that add an extra dimensionality to the family and the downtrodden community, overrun by vicious imperialism at the behest of Victoria Kord (Susan Sarandon), who is bent on getting her hands on the scarab that eventually finds its way into Jaime’s body, transforming him into the superhero he becomes, Blue Beetle.

Dunnet-Alcocer and Soto clearly delineate the haves and have-nots within the story. Victoria will stop at nothing, knawing at Conrad Carapax, her bodyguard played by Raoul Max Trujillo, to get what she demands. Carapax lays bare the complexities of war and the damage it inflicts on the human body, mind, and soul. He is relentless in his advancements and nearly as strong, physically, as Blue Beetle. Bruna Marquezine plays Jenny Kord, Victoria’s niece, and the film’s moral center. She doesn’t like what’s become of her father’s company at Victoria’s hands and wants to change life for the better for all, but is powerless to do so on her own.

All of these elements combine for a quirky, fun adventure. The cultural elements elevate this story above most comic book superhero films, and then it brings the superhero elements in on top of it and nearly collapses the story. Blue Beetle says a lot about our world today – no matter where you live. You will always have heroes in your life, including from within. The generic nature of the superhero elements drags the overall movie down.

Despite the two layers of the story fighting one another, Maridueña’s performance shines. He inhabits Jaime and the Blue Beetle suit equally. With his caring heart and love for his family, he knows what he’s doing now that he’s graduated college. Damian Alcázar, Adriana Barraza, and a brilliant George Lopez are the film’s highlights.

Blue Beetle draws you in and nearly spits you out again, fighting itself to tell an even superhero story. It doesn’t feel as if it was meant to be seen on Max, where it originally was going to premiere – it was meant to be seen in a theater with a crowd. The unevenness in the storytelling nearly unravels the goodwill generated by the family of characters, engendered through the warmth of the family and Jaime’s quirkiness.