Before James Gunn became the co-boss of Warner Bros. Discovery’s DC Films division, he was the guy who made better-than-average Marvel movies and produced… let’s say, more alternative superhero fare.
In 2019, Gunn’s name was pasted all over the ads for Brightburn, a horror film about a young boy with the powers of Superman who doesn’t feel like saving cats from trees so much as flying directly through the people he doesn’t like and admiring the stain on the wall. The film stars Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, and Meredith Hagner.
Despite Gunn’s involvement being celebrated in the marketing, he didn’t actually write or direct the film. Turns out, James’ brother, Brian Gunn, and his cousin, Mark Gunn, handled screenwriting duties. Meanwhile, David Yarovesky (2014’s The Hive) directed the project.
The film had a decent reception by critics and fans, who might not have thought the story lived up to its potential but still praised certain horror sequences and the general novelty of twisting a conventional superhero narrative into an R-rated bloodbath. (Although we already had Logan and two Deadpools by that point, so the approach didn’t feel as fresh as it would have in, say, 2010).
Still, it made $33 million against a $6 million budget, so co-producer The H Collective is currently working on a sequel, per a recent report by Deadline. The news has Brightburn fans excited for another game of hide-and-seek with a killer who can hide in the sky. And for those who haven’t seen the original, maybe it’s time to test just how hopeless a superhero movie can make you feel.
Where can you stream Brightburn?
Brightburn is currently streaming on Hulu, at least in the United States.
Mileage will vary on the thematic value of a story like this, but the simplicity of the premise and surprisingly reasonable runtime go a long way to engender goodwill toward a little jerk who puts on a cape for no other reason than to burn the world.
Sure, there’s some overlap with Max Landis and Josh Trank’s Chronicle — the real trailblazer in the superheroes-as-bad-guys subgenre that released in 2012 — but Landis’ screenplay has mega-edgelord vibes, and director Trank is too slavish to his video-capture gimmick. Brightburn serves its doom-and-gloom without such thematic or visual pretense, and there’s something refreshing in that.
We’re not sure there’s enough story here for a sequel, but when has that ever stopped Hollywood?