Have you ever wondered what would happen if Superman went bad? I don't mean a temporary red kryptonite situation. No I mean what if Kal El was a bad seed. Can you imagine what that would be like? I mean we've seen glimpses of such power when other Kryptonians like General Zod have invaded Earth, but I'm talking about something deeper.
How would it affect those close to the rogue Supe?
Amazon Prime's The Boys (based on the comic series of the same name) covers some of this ground. Homelander is certainly a perfect example of an anti-Superman, but the show has barely begun to pick at the ugly scabs of his upbringing.
Well today's film tackles this very subject. Get ready for some super-psychoanalysis with 2019's Brightburn.
Out story opens in 2006 with a rural couple named Kyle and Tori Breyer who have been trying to conceive a baby, but to no avail. One night, a meteor lands in the forest behind their farm. The meteor turns out to be a spaceship containing an infant boy. The Breyers adopt the child as their own and hide the space pod in their barn. Twelve years pass without incident as the boy, named Brandon, grows up knowing he was adopted but believing himself to be a normal boy.
On his twelfth birthday, Brandon's personality begins to change, and while his adoptive parents initially shrug it off as normal growing pains, they cannot ignore Brandon's strange behavior forever. One night, a strange voice awakens Brandon, leading him to the hidden pod. Wounded by the truth about his origin, Brandon begins lashing out as both his peers and family in increasingly violent ways, discovering new abilities every day. By the time the Breyers realize something must be done, it's too late, and the strange voice's words ring loud and clear in Brandon's ears... "Take the world."
Brightburn presents a terrifying alternate reality. While Brandon Breyer is NOT Clark Kent, all of the similarities right down to the Kansas farmhouse are deliberate. The movie leaves the cause of Brandon's fall vague. Is it a result of merciless bullying from his peers? Or was he doomed to be evil by his own mysterious origins. It seems very likely that, based on the pod's repeating message "Take the world" that Brandon was sent to Earth as a weapon rather than a refugee.
This is definitely not a movie for the kids. Brightburn is bloody and extremely graphic. I'm not a doctor, but I don't need a degree in psychology to tell me that Brandon is one sick, twisted individual. The movie contains some decent jump scares, and Brandon's climactic rampage put my stereo system's subwoofer through its paces.
I can't think of any complaints about Brightburn except a few unresolved conflicts, but based on the post-credits scene, I have a feeling they got resolved offscreen... brutally. The movie not only serves as a shocking "what if" scenario, but also an effective cautionary tale on the corruptibility of power. Comic book fans love to speculate, and Brightburn explores some dark themes. It's a well-done and thought-provoking look beneath the cape that we don't really get to see too often. I highly recommend this movie for comic book fans. Then while you're at it, watch The Boys on Amazon Prime if you need a few laughs to go with your super-powered terror.