Brightburn received criticism for not having an intricate backdrop for its evil Superman, but that’s exactly the point. A dark satire on Clark Kent, in particular the portrayal of Zack Snyder’s character Steel manthe film focuses on the ultimate hypothetical scenario of the superhero genre: What if Superman became evil?
The answer to this question is, of course, gloomy, because Brightburn sees Kal-El’s evil counterpart develop a massive superiority complex and gruesomely murder anyone who stands in his way. As much as he canonized Snyder’s vision, he emphasized how spiritually accurate his deconstruction was.
When released in May 2019, Brightburn received a decidedly mixed critical reception. While his subversion of the Superman origin story Through the Lens of a Horror Movie received acclaim, many critics felt it didn’t dive deep enough into the complexities of its premise. However, this analysis of the film ignores and underestimates what Brightburn done with his darker take on Krypton’s Last Son.
What Brightburn Critics Say About the Movie’s Handling of Superman
A large swath of the critical community, while praising BrightburnSuperman’s reinterpretation of Superman’s origin in a horror film, raised issues with the film’s perceived failure to take this premise beyond that of the Man of Steel becoming a killing machine without emotion. The film currently holds a 57% critical rating on Rotten Tomatoeswith the consensual reading “While Brightburn doesn’t fully deliver on the noir promise of its setup, it’s still enough to deliver an entertaining subversion of the superhero genre..” Screen Rantis clean Sandy Schaeferwhile giving the film a relatively positive review, describes Brightburn as “A creepy and gory genre mashup that fails to fully explore the fascinating questions it raises about the dark side of being a superhero.“This sentiment is indicative of much of the feelings of the rest of the critical community towards Brightburn and they felt it wasn’t working as well.
The Observer‘s Oliver Jones criticized the film as wasting the potential of a superhero horror film in his review, while Richard Roeper of Chicago Sun-Times stated, “The premise is intriguing, but this gruesome origin story plays out like another slasher movie with idiots for victims.” in his review. Even most of the most overtly positive reviews tend to take Brightburn to the task of having shortened his satirical angle on Superman. In a review for Free timeHelen O’Hara praised the film for offering “effective fears“, despite feeling that the execution was “sometimes confused“, while James Luxford of Subway felt the movie had a “exquisite configuration“by calling execution”a bit disappointing“and the end”slightly disappointing“.
Obviously, the apparent failure of Brightburn to deliver one of the best superhero movies concepts to its full potential is the element of the film that has garnered the most criticism, even within positive reviews. However, it seems that much of this criticism also stems from a misinterpretation of what Brightburn is aim in his evil Superman story and the fact that the film is one that, by the very nature of its premise, neither strives nor needs to be terribly complex.
Brightburn is not a man of steel
A key point missed by the criticisms directed at Brightburn is that film has a fundamentally different set of goals than Steel man. While both films take Superman’s rooting and reframing approach, the thesis of Steel man was that of Kal-El as an alien finding his place in a world that is foreign to him. Warned by his adoptive father Jonathan Kent of the dangers of revealing himself too quickly to humanity, Zack Snyder’s Superman went to great lengths to fly under the radar. With every rescue he made, the Clark Kent seen in Steel man would disappear immediately, knowing that the very discovery of its existence would mark a radical turning point in human history. It is only with the arrival of General Zod that Clark finally chooses to reveal himself to the world, as the situation calls for him to finally become Superman – whether he or the world is ready or not. Considering the world’s polarizing response to a nigh-invulnerable alien living among them, seen in batman versus supermanit is difficult to say that Jonathan’s apprehension was unfounded.
This is all the reverse of how Superman is deconstructed in Brightburn. The movie is specifically about the idea of an evil Superman living among us and therefore requires a much simpler setup to get there than the problematic pacing. superman movie Steel man. For Brightburn, Brandon’s descent into evil stems from being left on his own after his alien abilities and origins were discovered. By suppressing Jonathan’s warning that his adopted son be mature enough to stand before a world that would inevitably fear his divine power, Brightburn takes the position that Superman would almost certainly have become a monster had he not been properly led as a child. Otherwise, Brightburn points out that Superman’s path to becoming a hero would always have a straight descent into evil awaiting him if he didn’t have the perfect guidance.
Brightburn’s Superman manipulation makes a better point
Bearing in mind the importance of the Kents in Clark’s upbringing (and the mentorship he would later receive from his Kryptonian Father, Jor-El), BrightburnKal-El’s idea is that Kal-El’s ability to feel empathy is the deciding factor in what makes him a hero. Brandon, the twisted young Superman in Brightburn, while being raised by clearly loving adoptive parents, discovers his abilities without their guidance and falls under the influence of a voice from his alien ship urging him to conquer Earth. As the people around Brandon slowly begin to understand that there is something different about him, he drifts away from humanity sensing their lingering fear. Brandon soon comes to see himself as superior to the very humans he considers his family and friends, and by the middle of the film he has become a complete sociopath.
The superman story Brightburn tells is simple because the whole point of the film is that removing Kal-El’s connection to humanity would leave him seeing humanity as less than nothing. This Superman allows himself to burn people alive with his heat vision like a child with a magnifying glass because there is nothing left to attach him to the human race. As for Brandon, he’s a god among bugs, and losing his ability to care about Earth’s inhabitants makes him unstoppable.
Whereas Brightburn tells a much simpler story of an evil version of Superman Elseworlds, which is clearly crafted. Unlike his deconstruction of Superman’s journey in Steel man, the the whole concept of Brightburn is that the last son of Krypton would be a blight on humanity if his ability to consider himself an adopted member of the human race was removed. Criticism that the film fails to fully explore its premise misses Brightburnit is real premise: without the ability to empathize with humanity, a being with Superman’s powers would have no reason to become anything but a villain.
How Brightburn Is Different From Injustice’s Superman Villain
Evil Superman has been used as a concept in several DC Comics projects. For example, the evil communist superman was the eventual protagonist of the Superman: Red Son book, and Ultraman is the morally inverted Kal-El who rules Earth-3 Crime Syndicate of America in a world where villains and heroes have switched roles. The best example of an Evil Superman comes from the Injustice a series of comic books and animated films, all based on the beat-em-up game from NetherRealms Studio, Injustice: gods among us, and the sequel. In this timeline, the Joker tricks Superman into beating Lois Lane to death and detonating a nuclear device in Metropolis. Kal, who believed he was fighting Doomsday, goes mad and kills the Joker. He then decides that the only way to keep the world safe is with him in charge, and the rest of the Injustice arc details how heroes and villains switch sides, fighting each other to try to help or hinder the Kryptonian tyrant.
Brightburn is different from Injustice Superman, however, despite sharing the same god-level powers and protagonist status. Brightburn is a lost, angry child who doesn’t really care if he’s doing right or wrong. He has no moral compass and is more of a force of nature than a villain with goals and motives (at least in the first movie, though a future Brilliant 2 could change that). Injustice Superman, in addition to being an adult, sincerely believes in moral rights. He’s not the villain in his own head – he just understands that humanity creates monsters like the Joker when left to their own devices, so they need someone to take control and enforce order. Brightburn is a super-powered serial killer. who has no apparent interest in governing Humanity, let alone saving it from itself.
The age difference between Superman and Brightburn also matters: Brightburn is an impulsive child, while Superman is a much more calculating experienced adult (even if emotionally incapable of agreeing to kill Lois). However, with Ryan and Homelander Season 3 developments in Amazon’s The boys, it’s possible the next season of the MA-rated superhero drama will provide a better Evil Superman/Brightburn proxy that critics appreciate more than the often misunderstood Brightburn.
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