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Film / BrightBurn

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"He may look like us. He’s not like us!"
Mr. Breyer

BrightBurn is a 2019 horror film produced by James Gunn, written by his brother and cousin Brian and Mark Gunn, and directed by not-a-Gunn-but-frequent-collaborator David Yarovesky. The film reunites James Gunn and Elizabeth Banks, who previously worked together on Slither.

A happy couple who dream of starting a family, get their wish come true one night when a rocket ship crash-lands near their farm, and a baby boy is found on board. The couple takes him in as their own, and raise him lovingly. They soon find out that he has extraordinary superpowers. Sound familiar? Well, that's about where the similarities end. Because, unfortunately for everyone around him, Brandon doesn't plan on using his powers for noble causes...

Previews: Trailer 1, Trailer 2.


BrightBurn contains examples of:

  • Adult Fear:
    • The idea that your child might be turning into a psychopathic murderer, despite doing your damnedest to raise them right.
    • The idea that your child is going to school with said psychopathic murderer.
    • Even taking out the psychopathic murder, just the mere idea of your child being bullied and the teachers doing jack-shit about it is a tragic case of Truth in Television.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Brandon has a crush on a classmate of his named Caitlyn, but she thinks he's a creep (not without reason, mind).
  • All of the Other Reindeer: According to Mrs. Breyer, Brandon has trouble fitting in with other kids. This is best shown where a group of kids gang up on him and push him to the ground, and when a teacher tells a girl to help him up she protests, calling him a creep.
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  • Alliterative Name: Brandon Breyer.
  • Apathetic Teacher: The gym teacher, who allows the other kids in class to push Brandon around without attempting to stop it.
  • An Arm and a Leg: The gym teacher lets the kids push Brendan around and then over, then commands one girl to help him up despite her protests of him being a "creep." But she helps him up. Brendan grabs her arm with super-strength, a squelching sound and her screams are heard...
  • The Bad Guy Wins: All attempts to stop Brandon fails. He is free to terrorize and destroy various major places in the world to instill fear to humans.
  • Batter Up!: The bullying girl's mother, when she realizes she's in trouble, picks up a baseball bat to defend herself. Of course, that danger is Brandon.
  • Beta Outfit: Brandon's home-made superhero outfit has a badly-made balaclava. The fact that his eyes are visibly glowing only makes it look incredibly creepy.
  • Beware the Superman: The alien boy that the couple adopts appears to have some very serious homicidal tendencies. It's part of his instincts, and he later falls to it.
  • Bullying a Dragon: The girl bully soon learns what happens when you pick on a kid with superpowers.
  • The Corrupter: Brandon's innate alien nature ends up being this due to his ship.
  • Creepy Child: Brandon becomes this after realizing that he has superpowers.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Of the Superman Substitute. If a young alien child discovers he has godlike abilities and is told constantly he is meant to do great things, yet gets the wrong idea of what "great" means... It's not gonna end well.
    • Also of the argument of Superman's fairly happy upbringing making him into the kind person he is. Mrs. Breyer is just as loving and supportive as Martha Kent or even a traditional Jonathan Kent. However, despite the upbringing Brandon gets, nothing can remove the underlying nature of his. This is also Nature vs Nurture in play.
    • Of Clark Kent's status as an outsider amongst his school peers. Brandon is an outsider, but unlike Clark, he takes this fact very, very personally.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: The girl bully's mother wants Brandon arrested and jailed for breaking her daughter's hand. Brandon's response to this? Terrify the poor woman at work, then brutally murder her.
    • Everyone who shows the tiniest ounce of scorn to Brandon gets murdered. No exceptions. And we mean everyone. Not even his mother is safe, showing grief while trying to scold him, desperately trying to get her son back to normal one last time.
  • Downer Ending: Brandon destroys everything: parts of the town, his parents, and his Kryptonite Factor. An unstoppable sociopathic Superman is now free to terrorize the world.
  • Expy: The Breyer family are obvious ones to the Kents, only things take a very dark turn once the child among the family realizes that he's different.
  • Even Evil Can Be Loved: Mr. and Mrs. Breyer did their best to raise their son right before Brandon loses himself, which makes it all the more tear-jerking to hear Mrs. Breyer.
    Mrs. Breyer: (sounding incredibly sad) Whatever you've done, I know there is good inside you!
  • Eye Beams: Brandon has heat/laser vision. This is not a good thing. He gets to use it against his father in close range, splattering his brain.
  • Eye Scream: The woman in the cafe is standing under a light when Brendan somehow manages to break it, getting shards of it in her eye. We then get a fun scene of her pulling it out!
  • Facial Horror: Brandon's uncle gets his lower jaw torn off from slamming the steering wheel on his truck. He was alive for a few seconds, trying to reattach it despite sheer blood loss and shock, then ultimately dies, his lower jaw falling off of place.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: The Breyers bring Brandon into their home and love him like a son. Then it turns out that Brandon is basically a psychopathic Superboy, and things go downhill from there.
  • Flash Step: A police officer sees something in the window of the Breyer's house. The camera pans over to the window, showing the viewer that Brandon is hovering just outside. By the time the camera pans back to the police officer, Brandon is right behind her.
  • Flying Brick: Brandon has the standard set of Superman-esque powers. He can fly, he has super strength, he's Nigh Invulnerable, and he can shoot laser beams from his eyes. Much of the movie's horror comes from just how terrifying powers like these would be in the real world if they fell into the wrong hands.
  • A God Am I: Brandon appears to develop a god complex, if the illustrations in his notebook are to be believed. His true nature does think he's superior to humans.
  • I Have No Son!: Mrs. Breyer is nothing but supportive of Brandon. Mr. Breyer, in a complete inversion of Jonathan Kent, on the other hand, pretty much disowns Brandon. It's actually justified since Brandon comes from a meteor out of nowhere and is shown to be powerful and unstable. Too bad that also put him on Brandon's murder list...
  • In the Blood: Brandon. He was well aware of his evil nature but loses. The bullying he just received just speeds it up.
  • In the Hood: Brandon finds a red piece of cloth and makes it into a creepy-looking tattered cape and hood, which entirely covers his face and makes him creepy.
  • Inscrutable Aliens: The aliens that Brandon belongs to, in stark contrast to Jor-El and his fellow Kryptonians.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • Brandon's classmates gang up on him, pushing him to the ground, and when a teacher tells a girl to help him up she protests, calling him a creep.
    • Brandon himself starts to take this trope Up to Eleven when he falls to his instincts.
  • Kryptonite Factor: The ship. Brandon is perfectly content to just have it rest in the shed at first, even allowing Mrs. Breyer to freely look at it. The reason why he's okay with it around? The ship was brainwashing him while he wasn't aware of it. Unfortunately, Brandon destroys it after Mrs. Breyer tries to use it to kill him when he falls completely to his alien nature.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Brandon crashes a plane full of people into his adoptive parents' house, leaving no evidence and also destroying the ship.
  • Nigh Invulnerable: The only thing that can damage Brandon is debris from his ship. Once that's out of the way, Brandon is this.
  • Nightmare Fuel Coloring Book: Mrs. Breyer finds Brandon's notebook... which is full of drawings of the back-to-back "B" symbol, among other things.
  • "No. Just... No" Reaction: A rare non-comedic variant in Noah's reaction to Brandon flying.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Some of the kills are off-screen. Zigzagged with other off-screen kills, but shows the aftermath.
    • The movie doesn't explain who or what exactly is Brandon nor where he came from, further underlining that Brandon is an alien.
  • Power Floats: Among other superpowers, Brandon can fly. The film plays it like a horrifying thing and to be fair, seeing someone floating in the middle of the night is not exactly a reassuring sight. And seeing him just floating there is the only cue from him to run.
  • The Quiet One: Brandon. He would rather prefer lurking and watching from the background than talking. He usually speaks when spoken to (and his voice rarely gets past a low tone unless he's angry), and rarely starts conversations by himself. This is a good thing for him, bad thing for people he murders, he's just that quiet to sneak up on others.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning: Brandon is shown to sometimes have glowing red eyes.
  • Room Full of Crazy: Then again, it's tame compared to the room with the symbol painted all over the walls and apparently a mural of Brandon in his idea of a superhero outfit that his mother (or someone else) finds in another scene.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Both Kyle and Tori Breyer end up dead by their adopted son's hands (or eye lasers, as the case may be).
  • Shooting Superman: Kyle tries to kill Brandon with a gun despite having seen that his boy could chew up a fork and stick his hand in a lawnmower without so much as a nick. It ends about as well as you'd expect.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Sigil Spam: Brandon did this to his notebook. And the usage grows on his murders later.
  • Superman Substitute: Played for Horror. Brandon was an okay kid up until he discovers he's a superpowered alien and the typical "you came here for a reason" speech that was given to Clark at that age... well... saying that he learnt the wrong lesson from it is probably an understatement.
    Brandon: I learned something tonight, I'm very special. You're one of the few people that knows how special I am. But someday... they will all know.
  • Super Speed: In the blink of the eye, Brandon can fly a dozen meters instantly toward his next victim. He uses this both to Flash Step towards a target or to just turn the target into chunky salsa.
  • Stylistic Suck: Brandon's costume looks exactly like the costume a pre-teen superhero would make in their room. Which just adds to the creepiness factor of it.
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: Mr. Breyer doesn't consider Brandon his son after all the terrible things Brandon does. That was Mr. Breyer's downfall.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: Since everyone mistreats him and acts like he's a monster, he decides to live up to that idea.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Mrs. Breyer gives this every time Brandon would need cheering up. It didn't work on when they both needed it the most.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Played With. Brandon was a normal little boy with a loving relationship with his parents before he discovered his powers. Both the parents and Brandon knew of the loving environment and care, but Brandon unfortunately falls completely to his alien nature anyway.
  • Walking Techbane: Brandon’s very presence when using his powers causes things like lights and electrical equipment to go haywire — sometimes explosively, as the poor waitress finds out...
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Brandon becomes more cruel and terrifying once he discovers his powers. He may not have had a choice in the matter due to his ship.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Brandon is a monster, no denying, but he only became evil because that's the way people treated him.
    • Subverted harshly in that due to the Mind Control of his crashed ship it was probably going to happen regardless of how much he did or didn't fit in.


Example of: