Movies & TV / Columns

Will Audiences Embrace Brightburn?

May 11, 2019 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Jackson Dunn (Finalized)

While the headlines are filled with Avengers: Endgame box office results and fan celebration, a little movie called Brightburn might be introducing new areas for superhero movies to explore.

Horror and capes. What a concept.

Brightburn is coming at the right time. Sitting between the massively successful Venom, which pulled in $855 million globally, and the upcoming Joker, it’s positioned to be a notable addition to the superhero horror genre.

And let’s not forget the Jared Leto Morbius project and Jamie Foxx Spawn reboot. We have our fingers crossed for New Mutants.

Set in small-town, Brightburn is about a couple who finds and adopts a boy that crash lands on Earth from outer space. A familiar story and one that’s ripe for reinterpretation. DC’s Elseworlds has produced some great stories but now we get to see things through a new lens on the big screen.

The James Gunn produced and David Yarovesky directed, and Brian and Mark Gunn written movie has all the elements of pulling off something different. “I love this movie because it is an entirely new take on the superhero genre,” Gunn said. “It is something we have never seen before. It’s coming at the superhero movie from a pure horror angle. It’s also a more honest way of coming at the superhero myth because there’s something terrifying about the idea of a super-powered alien that would come to Earth.”

“There’s a tradition that goes back to Moses up through contemporary superhero stories about childless parents who take in an infant that they find in the wild,” Brian Gunn said. “Those figures grow up to be noble and heroic, but we wondered what would happen if it went the other way and this child ends up being something sinister.” “They encouraged us to play up the superhero element even more than we had in our original script,” Mark Gunn added and who originally wrote a draft that was more modest so it could be made on a smaller budget. “To put superpowers in a horror context seemed really fun to us—it was an opportunity to mix together two different genres that hadn’t really been mixed together before.”

While comic book fans are used to seeing the positive side of things, the darker angle leads to new lessons about the dangers that superpowers can bring. “Maybe adopting an alien baby you find in the woods isn’t the best idea,” said director David Yarovesky.

It’s apparent that everyone involved is invested in the project and it grew from wanting to take the superhero story in edgy places. “Brian and Mark were talking about doing this new take on the superhero myth,” James Gunn commented. “It was a creepy, scary, almost independent-movie-type script. We just kept bashing this thing out for about six months, eight months before we got the script to a place where we thought, ‘Yeah, let’s go make that.’”

The question whether audiences will come out to see the movie or shy away from anything different than what they are used to. Venom certainly made things interesting but was that an anomaly? Will big audiences want to see a wicked Superman? With a budget of $7 million and a very focused marketing plan, it won’t need much to recoup its money and make the accountants happy.

I’m all for doing something different. The superhero movie is untouchable at this point and as close as a sure thing as you could get. Still, it’s a breath of fresh air to get people in the industry who want to take in other directions.

Will you be seeing Brightburn at the theater? Are you interested in more superhero horror movies?

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BrightBurn, Steve Gustafson