A baby contained in a spaceship lands at the farm of a childless couple in Kansas. The couple cannot conceive and thus adopts the alien baby. Although they raise him well, the child perceives himself as superior to the rest of humanity and decides to exact his revenge on those who slight him. He can fly, is super fast, strong, and possesses heat vision. Can Brandon Breyer’s parents stop him before he decides to conquer the world?
James Gunn produces his own version of an evil Superboy whose story is the same as DC Comics’ hero except but twisted and without any of values of Superman. It is interesting to read the comments of people for whom the story of an evil Superman is novel. For longtime comics readers, this is an old story that does not impress. It has been drawn in so many ways by DC Comics like Ultraman, the Dark Knight's Superman, and other publishers. Just to name one, Marvel’s Supreme Power explores much of the same grounds.
Gary Groth allegedly claimed that superheroes are like diseases that invade every medium they invade. He is right. Brightburn has zero roots in comics, being an original story concocted for film that borrows from Superman’s comics, cartoons, and even film appearances. Brightburn is not a comic book movie. It is a movie featuring super heroic, or I should write, a super villainous premise. Brightburn is also horror using a trope of the genre - creepy kids. It is often scary as one knows everything there is to know about the villain. What eats away at the viewer is the anticipation of things to go wrong and to see the kid exact his vengeance and hate on the innocent humans he considers his inferiors.
Brightburn corrupts the story of Superman without giving its character any redeeming values or doubts about being evil. In many of the Superman-turn-bad stories in comics and animation, Superman has doubts and is not entirely twisted. Brandon Breyer has none of these doubts. He is evil. This is perhaps one of the drawbacks of this film as there is no growth possible for the character. The only growth is the growing fear Brandon’s parents go through.
Brightburn is enjoyable with limited uses of visual effects and enough gore and violence to please horror fans and jaded superhero fans who have not read many of the better evil Superman stories available in comics.