How BRIGHTBURN Puts a Terrifying Twist on the Superman Story

We’re living in the Golden Age of superhero movies, thanks to Marvel Studios and DC Comics. But the rise of the blockbuster superhero flick has also inspired filmmakers to find new windows into the genre, from found-footage thrillers like Chronicle to animated movies like The Incredibles. But what if superhero movies could also be horror movies? That’s the idea behind David Yarovesky’s Brightburn, which reframes the Superman mythos as something terrifying.

“How far do you go with your child’s behavior and still continue to love that child?” Brightburn producer James Gunn asked Nerdist News Edition. It’s a tough question, and one that haunts the plot of Brightburn, which stars Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as the adoptive parents of Brandon, an alien child who starts exhibiting strange powers as he reaches puberty.

Brightburn imagines the Superman mythos as a horror movie. What if, instead of protecting the world from villains, Superman had become the villain of his own story? Brandon is this universe’s Clark Kent, but with more devious intentions. He wants to take over the world and control it, not keep it safe from outsiders.

But the film also works as a metaphor for a number of different topics, like parenthood and toxic masculinity. “When you have any child, whether you’re adopting them or giving birth to them, you’re inviting a stranger to come live in your house,” said Gunn. “It first started being about that, and it started working with superhero myths.”

It’s a great subversion on a classic story, and one that gives Brightburn a unique identity. An identity, that Gunn teases, could live on in future movies set in the same universe; one where the heroes are the villains, and no one is safe.

Brightburn is currently playing in a theater near you.

Images: Screen Gems/Sony Pictures

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