James Gunn produced film Brightburn is a dark take on the Superman mythos. At least that is what it seems. The movie clearly takes inspiration from Man of Steel, Zack Snyder’s 2013 Superman film.
The visual style is virtually identical — there is a shot of a vast Kansas farm, soft light of sunset or sunrise, a forlorn swing and so on.
But the similarities are not just skin deep. In Brightburn, too, a child strapped inside a UFO crashlands on earth. The child, when he grows up, feels he is different from other kids of his age. And is probably bullied.
You almost expect Russell Crowe to materialise and mouth, “You will give the people of Earth an ideal to strive towards,” or something to that effect.
But this is no Superman, trying to be good in the world in which he is scorned. This is his evil cousin, having the same powers (heat vision included), who has gone to the dark side, if you excuse my Star Wars reference.
The kid finds the barn where the UFO that brought him to earth is kept by his ‘parents’. There is a shot of him chewing the head of a fork — a clear riff on an adolescent Clarke Kent in Man of Steel holding the frame of a fence hard enough to put a dent in it.
Superman has gone evil several times in DC Comics, but this might be the first time we see him (or somebody like him) being evil inherently.
Brightburn arrives in summer, 2019.