Before he won Oscars for directing “The Shape of Water” and “Pinocchio,” before he helmed three of the most underrated comic book movies ever, before he crafted modern genre masterpieces like “Pan’s Labyrinth,” “Crimson Peak,” and “Pacific Rim,” Guillermo del Toro made “Cronos.” Shot on a small budget, it’s the kind of debut that indicates its maker is going to be a Big Freakin’ Deal one day. Everything that makes a del Toro film a del Toro film is evident here, even if the scale is smaller than his later efforts.
And its inclusion in “Blue Beetle” is a real “blink and you’ll miss it” moment. During one scene, Nana Reyes (Adriana Barraza) is flipping through channels, and for a few precious seconds, we lay eyes on footage from “Cronos.” Is this Soto, himself Puerto Rican, paying homage to another filmmaker of Latin/Hispanic heritage who broke into Hollywood on a major scale? Surely. Of course. But if you’ve seen “Cronos,” you know that this appreciative nod in del Toro’s direction is a bit cheekier than that.