Cinematic superhero saturation seems to be pushing the weird and obscure caped characters into the spotlight; Plastic Man and Morbius the Living Vampire are being adapted to screen, while Aquaman, DC’s longest-running joke, has just conquered the Chinese box office.
Simple super-folk like Superman no longer cut it – we’re far too familiar with the concept to be entranced by such an overpowered, two-dimensional character nowadays. Hence, why Brightburn looks so intriguing.
Brightburn appears to be a cross between Man of Steel and The Omen, with the trailer intentionally inviting comparisons to Man of Steel, right down to the choice of font. Which is rather amusing, seeing as the sequel to that film, Batman V. Superman, depicted a world-weary Batman convinced that Superman was going to show his true colors any moment, and destroy the planet. This trailer feels exactly like watching Superman through Batman’s paranoid eyes, as a blossoming threat to society rather than a savior.
It’s such a great idea (one that the comics have explored many times before), that one has to wonder why the concept has never been filmed before. The superhero genre has melded seamlessly with comedy, R-rated comedy, coming-of-age, western, and high fantasy – why not horror?
There’s always been something kind of sinister about Superman – why is the most overpowered superhero of all time such a boy scout? Someone so ridiculously flawless must be some kind of sociopath, surely. Or perhaps our cynical, modern-day eyes don’t want to see a Messiah from the sky, but a red-caped invader.
The film stars Elizabeth Banks and David Denman as a twisted reflection of the Kent family, an infertile, rural couple who are unfortunate enough to own the land that this superpowered humanoid crashes on. While both characters seem to share the Kent’s old-fashioned, well-meaning attitude, it will be interesting to see if the otherworldly child’s upbringing has any influence on his disposition.
While this trailer tries very hard indeed to credit James Gunn for this film, he’s only the producer; Brightburn is directed by David Yarovesky, a longtime Gunn collaborator. We’ll have to wait and see if the film ends up as interesting as the concept, but from what we’ve seen so far, the two genre tropes of creepy kid and caped crusader seem ideally suited to compliment one another, because of their stark contrast.
Let’s just hope that Yarovesky keeps a clean Twitter timeline.