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It was gonna be a surprise. After we ran away.
~ Isabel Aretas to Marcus about a surprise.
Isabel Aretas is the main antagonist in Bad Boys for Life. She is a drug kingpin and the former lover of Mike Lowrey.
In 1989, Isabel Aretas was the wife of drug kingpin Benito Aretas, whose cartel was the main focus of an investigation by the Miami Police Department. Police captain Conrad Howard enlisted rookie detective Mike Lowrey out of the police academy (prior to Mike's longtime partnership with Marcus Burnett) to go undercover and infiltrate the Aretas cartel. During his time undercover, Mike engaged in an affair with Isabel, who showed him the ways of her lifestyle, leading to Mike's current high-life personality.
When the time came to take down the cartel, Isabel planned on running away with Mike, as she became pregnant as a result of their affair. However, Mike found out how dangerous Isabel was, as she was nicknamed, "La Bruja" (Spanish for "The Witch"), for being into black magic, leading to Mike having her locked up as well. Benito ended up dying after his arrest, and as for Isabel, she gave birth to a son in prison, named Armando.
Bad Boys For Life
Isabel spent the following quarter-century seeking revenge on Mike, and in the beginning of the film, she killed a guard and several other people to make her escape, with Armando assisting. The mother-and-son pair returned to Mexico City, with Isabel ordering Armando to resurrect the business and kill everyone who was part of the cartel's takedown, including Mike, who Isabel ordered to kill last--as she wanted to make Mike suffer. The villainess gave the order without revealing that Mike was Armando's biological father. However, Armando went after Mike first, and fired multiple shots at him during a party celebrating the birth of Marcus' Grandson. Isabel was furious at her son for going after Mike first, though Armando justified his decision as Mike was the greater threat, while Mike survived the attempt, leading him to go on an investigation to find the shooter with the help of his ex-girlfriend (and fellow officer) Rita Secada and her tech-driven team in charge, the Advanced Miami Metro Operation or AMMO.
Meanwhile, Armando killed the others under his malevolent mother's orders, including Captain Howard, who was shot and killed in front of Mike. Howard's death led to Marcus joining Mike on his mission, and during their pursuit of Armando, the words, "Hasta el fuego", were said to Mike. Mike recognized the words as the same phrase that he and Isabel had said to each other, leading to Mike revealing the truth to Marcus, that Armando was his biological son and the result of his past affair with Isabel, adding that he had to be the father because Benito couldn't father children.
Mike went to Mexico City to confront Isabel, with Marcus, Rita, and the rest of the group going with him--despite Mike's protests. He later confronted Isabel, who revealed that she had planned to surprise him with the news of her pregnancy during their plans to run away together, while callously responding to Mike's scolding regarding Armando by boasting that he has no idea that Mike was his father. An immense shootout followed between Isabel's henchmen and the group, with Mike fighting Armando and attempting to reveal that Armando was his son. The revelation surprised Armando and left him in disbelief, after which Mike told him that Isabel will reveal everything. When asked by Armando if Mike was his father, the evil Isabel indirectly confirmed Mike's statements, only to add that Mike was nothing to him and order her son to kill his father.
When Armando refused, Isabel attempted to kill Mike herself, only to end up shooting Armando by accident when he stepped in between them to protect Mike. Isabel is briefly shocked by the fact that she shot her son, but she later made another attempt at Mike, only for Rita to shoot and kill Isabel, who ended up falling over into a wave of fire, while Armando made a full recovery.
Isabel is very ruthless, not hesitating to kill those who are on her way. This part of her personality is even reinforced when it is revealed she uses black magic to curse her enemies (in her mind). Extremely vengeful, her goal is to avenge Mike's betrayal who is the cause of her imprisonment and even goes far as to kill Mike's friends or work partners. With her son Armando, she was somewhat harsh with him, berating him for his failure and not tolerating he acts on his own. That relationship was also influenced by the vengeful's side of Isabel because she lied to Armando about his father, telling his father was Benito instead of Mike. But despite all of that, she genuinely loves him, as seen when she accidentally shot him instead of Mike who was her blank. However, as explained previously, she put her vengeance above her love of Armando, not paying attention when he was at risk of being shot.
Isabel is the only main villain in the Bad Boys franchise to be female. She is also the only main villain in the franchise to not be killed by either Mike or Marcus.
Movies Bad Boys: Fouchet | Casper | Ferguson | Kuni | Noah Trafficante | Eddie Dominguez | Elliot | Drug Buyer Bad Boys II: Johnny Tapia | Carlos | Roberto | Donna Maria Tapia | Alexei | Josef Kuninskavich | Blondie Dread | Floyd Poteet Bad Boys for Life: Isabel Aretas | Armando Armas