Brightburn, which premieres in theaters on May 24, is a horror-superhero movie mashup that reimagines a story that sounds all too familiar. One night, an unidentified object enters the earth's atmosphere, and lands in the woods near Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle Breyer's (David Denman) home. The vessel from space carries a baby, who the couple then chooses to raise as their own. Up until this point, the film sounds like it's taken straight from DC comics, but is Brightburn actually about Superman?
As the movie continues, Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn) grows up with so much love at home, especially from his mother who calls him a "gift." But in school, he's considered to be a very peculiar boy. He's bullied by his classmates, and prefers to scribble the same back-to-back B logo on his notebook. One day, he discovers his superhuman abilities. But instead of defending the innocent and protecting the world, he uses his powers have his revenge on all the people who have wronged him.
"There have been many dark superhero tales and plenty of villains with superpowers, but we have never seen a superhero story told as a sh*t-your-pants horror movie," director David Yarovesky said in an interview with Dread Central. "At this point, we have all been indoctrinated into believing that if someone started handing out superpowers that they would be used for good. It’s a lie. The cake is not real. Santa Claus is your parents. And if an alien baby lands in the woods run for your f*cking life."
Brightburn isn't technically a Superman adaptation, but their origin stories are notably and purposely similar. And in the DC Comics universe, Superman actually does turn evil in a number of storylines, most notably in the Injustice: Gods Among Us graphic novel universe. Ranker notes that he's shattered Batman's spine, torched Martian Manhunter with his laser eyes, and beat Green Arrow to death. And in the Countdown to Final Crisis series, instead of Clark Kent, a character named Zod is called "Superman Prime" on Earth 15, where he winds up killing the other Justice League members. But again, this really has nothing to do with Brightburn, since the movie is in no way associated with DC.
However, HuffPost points out that the movie's trailer includes many visual references to the 2013 Superman reboot Man of Steel — from the close-ups of the Breyer family mailbox and laundry drying in the wind to the beautiful sweeping shots of the rural town. Even the font used in Brightburn seems intentionally similar to that used in Man of Steel.
But while Clark Kent and Brandon Breyer's stories have many striking and undeniable parallels, there's no reason to believe that the two are officially connected. The original screenplay was written by brothers Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn — the film also produced by their brother, recently reinstated Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn — and is more of a reimagining of Superman rather than an actual tale about the DC superhero.