Welcome to Culture Crash, where we examine what’s new and old in entertainment.
One of the great strengths of comic book storytelling is that nothing is set in stone and everything is up for interpretation. Writers are constantly exploring new ideas with familiar characters and putting a new spin on things, even for the classically beloved characters like Batman and Spider-Man. DC’s Flashpoint comics featured Thomas Wayne, instead of Bruce Wayne, as Batman. In some storylines, Peter Parker is Spider-Man, in others, Miles Morales is Spider-Man, in still others, they co-exist at the same time.
It is in this spirit, in embracing this constant state of flux as a strength and not a weakness, that Sony released Brightburn. Brightburn tells the story of an alien child who crash-lands on a Kansas farm and, as he grows up, discovers he has superpowers, including superstrength and the ability to fly. Sound familiar? Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves, because Brightburn is not a Superman movie, it’s the opposite. Where Clark Kent uses his powers for good, Brightburn’s Brandon Breyer uses his powers for evil. His mantra is, uh, take the world.
Brightburn debuted to underwhelmed critics and fans alike, but I think there was enough to appreciate in the movie for a recommendation with one important caveat: Brightburn is a horror movie. It’s more grisly and gory than awe-inspiring, more Pet Sematary than Richard Donner’s Superman. It’s something different, it explores what an evil Superman would be like. I grew up watching Smallville, which portrayed a teenaged Clark Kent and loved seeing Brightburn play in a similar sandbox but flipped inside out.
If you’re willing to explore some unchartered territory and watch a gory, evil Superman fanfiction, Brightburn is worth a shot.
I’m Evan Rook.