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10 Reasons Explaining Why Brightburn is Better than Endgame - because let's be honest, absolute power always corrupts absolutely. IMDB
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Oh, come on. That title is click bait magic and you know it. But the best part about that click bait is that I actually believe it. I know, right? How could anyone like anything better than Endgame and the entire Marvel franchise? But I am decidedly on the record explaining how Marvel’s pantheon is destroying American cinematic experiences left and right. And I’m serious, Brightburn is legitimately better than all the Marvel movies put together. And, because I said I’d give you 10 reasons explaining exactly why, here you go:

  • Brightburn is actually comprehensible.
  • Brightburn is a universal story we can all relate to.
  • Brightburn is a story, a story about family.
  • Brightburn is full-on – so full-on, it might ruin a few of you.
  • Brightburn is the antihero movie we all need right now.
  • Brightburn is full tilt in all the best ways.
  • Brightburn has Abraham and Isaac analogies.
  • Brightburn has all kinds of blood pouring out of its veins.
  • Brightburn is so dark as as to flip back to bright again.
  • Brightburn is so much more realistic than any Marvel movie.

But ultimately, Brightburn is a movie about families contorted by modern problems in modern life, today. It’s the story of a particular family, the Breyer family, and their downward spiral. Specifically, it’s about a family that discovers a baby, delivered from outer space, and raised as their own child. And then it’s about their realistic consequences of these decisions played out throughout the rest of the movie.

See? Totally a whole ‘nother world of superheroes that Marvel would never, ever go to. A darker, way more realistic view of what would happen if a superhero truly did make its way into our world.

Brightburn Spoiler Filled Deep Dive

This is the story of Superman, re-envisioned. And like how Jonathan and Martha Kent found Superman, crash landed on Earth, so too did Tori and Kyle Breyer, when they found an alien craft containing their soon-to-be adopted son, Brandon. But where Ma and Pa Kent brought hope to the world, Tori (played by Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (played by David Denman) Breyer have brought pain, fear and desperation to the planet. Why? What is the difference between these two stories?

Some artists start their canvases with whites, yellows, and bright backgrounds. Rembrandt, on the other hand, began by priming his paintings with dark umbers, charcoals, and deep earth tones of the darkest night. Why? Because it reflected his perspective on the world around him. Similarly, Superman is all bright blues, deep reds, and brilliant lights. Brightburn on the other hands is the color of midnight and the darkness of blood glistening in the full moonlight. But this difference is nothing more than a perspective on how this world works. Do you believe that life is generally hopeful and absent pain? Or do you believe that life is cold, brutish, and short, to quote Hobbes. Speaking of Hobbes, these same dichotomies can also be seen in the philosophies as well. Are you a student of Nietzsche’s, Hobbes’ and Heidegger’s darker palettes? Or are you more a follower of Locke, Hegel, and the like? And I would go so far as to say these aren’t choices you make consciously, but rather they are perspectives you will naturally be drawn to.

Here is the question that defines this movie. Do you innately believe that if any one person was given infinite power, would they use it for good? Or would it immediately begin curdling and turning bad the moment it was realized. In essence, do you think that absolute power corrupts absolutely?

As with all superhero origin stories, Brandon starts out with no knowledge of his super powers. Brandon had no comprehension of his specialness or his origin from outside planet earth. But eventually, weird things began happening to him. He accidentally chucks the lawnmower a quarter mile away. He stops the blades with his hands. And he is beginning to hear voices coming from the barn. This is quickly followed by incidents at school. And like all “normal” outcasts, non-cookie-cutter kids at school, he quickly finds himself an outsider that is weird and misunderstood. And eventually, Brandon realizes that the voices from the barn are telling him to “TAKE THE WORLD” – RARRRRRR!

The Rise of Brightburn

When Caitlyn stands up for Brandon, she catches his eye. Which, apparently isn’t a good thing in this darker paletted world. Brandon, during a camping trip with his parents, makes his first visit to Caitlyn’s window at her home. But when Brandon breaks her hand in PE at school, Brandon is told to stay away from her. And when he visits Caitlyn in her bedroom again, and she tells him that her mother says she can’t talk to him…when Brandon says he will take care of that, we know nothing good will come of that. So when Brandon visits Caitlyn’s mother as she is closing shop at the local restaurant, the bloody result seems to be a natural outpouring of the downward spiral that seemed inevitable.

And when his aunt, the school’s guidance counselor, is charged with finding out if his harming of Caitlyn was intentional she implies that she will need to go to the police if he doesn’t show any remorse. “I know I’m something else, I know I’m superior.” But apparently, Brightburn isn’t too keen on the police finding out about it. So it isn’t too surprising when Brandon visits his aunt at home, and then visits his uncle, driving back from the local bar. And when we see Brightburn pick up his uncle’s car, only to drop his uncle, we really know that this hero story isn’t going the direction of other hero stories.

The interesting thing that happens next, is that Brandon works so hard to cover this atrocity up. He makes the murder of his uncle Noah look like a accident that happened when he swerved to miss a deer. Why? We saw this when his aunt mentioned the police, his reaction makes it clear that this can’t happen. Everyone cannot know that he exists. And realistically, this is Brandon’s/Brightburn’s #1 motivator, prevention of discovery.

And when his parents find out that Noah is dead, and that Brandon was with his aunt the previous night, threatening her, Kyle, Brandon’s dad, tells Tori, his mother, that what Brandon needs is some away time. Some camping time together. Kyle needs some time with Brandon on Mount Moriah. But Tori doesn’t put two and two together. She is still certain that Brandon couldn’t have done it, or even if he did, he could still be saved.

The Sacrifice of Brightburn

Even if you don’t know your Bible all that well, you know the story of Abraham and Isaac on Mount Moriah. You know the one. God had come to Abram and Sarai, and said that they would be as fruitful as the sand on the seashore, even though they were old and barren. And after Sarai (now Sarah) had given birth to Isaac, Abram (now Abraham) took him to the top of Mount Moriah to offer him as a sacrifice to God. But at the last second, Abraham saw a ram caught in the thicket nearby, and he offered the ram instead.

Similarly, Kyle takes Brandon out into the woods, in order to go “hunting,” but really to sacrifice his son on behalf of the world. To save the world from his incredible, and devastating power. But when Brandon’s father shoots him in the back of the head with his rifle, nothing happens. And simultaneously, the lead cop on the investigation of both Caitlyn’s mother, and Brandon’s uncle, shows up to ask Tori if she recognizes this symbol he found at both crime scenes. Oh no, definitely not, she tells him. And then Brandon burns his fathers face clean off. Leaving his mother as the only one that can do anything now.

Tori knows that nothing can hurt Brandon, save for the ship he flew to earth in. And so she grabs a sharp piece of metal from the ship, in order to stab him with it. But at the last second Brandon stops her from stabbing him. And then up, up, up, the two of them go, into the sky. And then he drops her from a great height…and he just watches her plummet. And then there, in the sky, is a plane coming directly at him.

A Few Thoughts About Brightburn

I have gone this entire movie walkthrough without once mentioning the book Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. Do you know it? Part of a brilliant set of books that tell the story of super heroes (The Reckoners) that come to earth, and rule like horrible despots. It is the story of a band of rebels that attempt to fight back against the world’s powerful overlords. It’s a fantastic set of books that I couldn’t recommend highly enough. The idea of benevolent superheroes are so ingrained in the zeitgeist of our day that we don’t give it a second thought. Of course an all powerful being would be kind and merciful.

Oh really? That’s how power works? I mean, even the framers of the American experiment didn’t agree with that idea. Look at the Constitution. Three separate branches of government that are meant to check and balance one another because if any one branch is given too much power, they knew exactly what would happen.

I read a book a few years ago about a man that developed the ability to become invisible. It was something I picked up in an Airport bookstore, and I have no idea what it’s title is now, or who wrote it. Actually, just found it – thanks CY! – The Visible Man (2011) by Chuck Klosterman. The premise was that he was able to slather stuff on his skin, and use some technology to blend in with his background. And ultimately he used it to creep into random houses…to watch. To listen. And this is a truer account of power than anything we’ve ever seen in the comic books, or on our IMAX movie screens. And so too is Brightburn’s account of power going unchecked in the world today. (But let’s be honest, Marvel movies aren’t about normal mortals gaining power…they are stories of the Greek and Roman gods repurposed (sometimes literally) for today.) But Brightburn is a more realistic portrayal of power left unchecked, and it’s a murderous rampage that follows.

The Ending of Brightburn

When Brandon saw the plane coming his way, he knew this was his opportunity to cover up the crimes and murders he had committed so far. He crashed the plane onto his house, thereby erasing the two cops he killed, and his mother’s death. And just like that, Brandon was able to expunge any sort of real attempt to catch him at his handiwork. But why does he even care what us humans think? He takes the opposite approach to Superman, preferring the shadows, and the dark to operate, instead of the limelight. I literally don’t know the answer to this question.

Could it be because sin loves darkness? Pain and suffering’s mirror image to benevolence is bred in the shadows? That it can only grow in power as long as it isn’t caught? I really don’t know. You would think he would realize just how much power he has, and that he could flaunt it. But maybe he’s just new at this, and afraid that man will find a way, collectively, to chain him. Who knows?

And what about those end credit scenes? We watch as Brandon begins to expand his reign of terror across Kansas and the world. We also see a conspiracy theorist warning viewers about a “Half-man, half-sea creature” that comes from the ocean and a woman that is apparently strangling her victims with a rope. Kinda sounds like Aquaman, and Wonder Woman to me. No? And heck, why not? If Brightburn is our Superman, then why wouldn’t we have the rest of the evil Justice League making an appearance as well?

But I do know that I enjoyed the reality of this movie way more than any Marvel movie ever produced.

Edited by, CY

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16 Responses

  1. Lisa

    I wanted so much to like this movie but I just didn’t. I got that he was the antithesis of Superman but they gave no backstory or any reasoning as to why he was hell bent on destruction so I found the story to be a bit lacking. I mean it was fun enough to watch but that’s about it for me. I’m not a Marvel gal but I have a 9 year old boy that keeps me in the loop on such things so I do get forced to watch the films from time to time.

  2. Sinner

    What retained my attention on “Brightburn” was the symbol Brandon is using as his signature. The signature reminded me of this amazing manga “Berserk” with a turbulent plot story but mostly because of the signature that is very similar to the symbol used in manga “the Brands of Sacrifice”. Basically in the manga those who were branded were to be sacrificed. Just as you pointed, for different reasons, the biblical sacrifice. It can also mean “bb” from “brightburn” as a director` signature.
    But yeah I guess I only appreciated the film because of it loose ties with this “Berserk” manga which I honestly find it to be a masterpiece.

    So I just think that Brightburn isnt about superheros, it`s more likely about an individual with a different sense of justice that is willing to sacrifice the good (pay attention: not punishing the bad, but sacrificing the good) for a better tomorrow world (idea which i met in the manga).

  3. Pedro Oliveira

    Ok, I’m not getting into the Endgame discussion. I know you hate the Marvel Universe, there’s no reason why you’d like Endgame. I liked it, I thought it was the genuinely the only great movie that the Marvel Universe put out. But there’s no way that you can convince me that Brightburn was a good movie. It fails as a horror movie, as a response to the Marvel Universe, as a realistic vision of how superpowered individuals would act, it fails in every level. We all have our opinions, of course, but the thing that I like the most about your website is how you overthink the plots of the movies you see. Seriously, finding your site was a blessing, you’ve brought my attention dozens of great movies that I would never know, let alone see. But in this case, I think you’re being needlessly stubborn.

    • Taylor Holmes

      This comment might have nailed me – to a T. hahaha. Alright, I’m a tad stubborn. I did like it though. Sure, it wasn’t great. But yeah, this comment might have poleaxed me. Well played. hahahaha.

      I yield.

  4. Lisa

    I think I would’ve preferred even the worst Marvel movie to this film or being forced to watch Iron Fist on Netflix again. There just was nothing here for me including most of all, no real backstory or reasoning. If you are going to do horror mixed with sci fi, there absolutely must be a story there. I usually like what Taylor recommends so this was a head scratcher for me.

  5. deKev

    LOL, @Lisa.

    Brightburn works more as a horror movie like Carrie or The Omen than a superhero/villain origin story, for me at least. And given the paucity of good horror movies, Brightburn is quite all right story wise. I love the fact that the movie pulls no punches when it comes to the escalating nastiness that BB is capable of – enemies, police officers, friends, relatives, heck, even parents make not a bit of difference to him ultimately.

    Even if viewed as a superhero movie and when compared to such movies, Brightburn is of course no way near as good as Endgame, click bait or not, ahem, but it’s still way better than the barrel scraping likes of Dark Phoenix or Fantastic Four (reboot). I’m going out on a limb to suggest that Taylor probably hates Endgame because it is the antithesis to what he is trying to achieve at THiNC, not because Endgame is a badly made movie or something along such lines.

  6. Taylor Holmes

    I should probably stay silent on this comment thread… but. Thanks for defending me DeKev… hahaha. Everyone is ganging up on me!!! hahaha.

    Nah. I get it that not everyone is going to like this movie. So I apologize to the more tender among us who thought it too dark. Cough. No really, it is crazy. And yet, philosophically, it is 100% better than any other super hero movie. Real world this scenario for a moment. You get the power of invisibility. 9 times out of 10 you will abuse that power for your own good. With the rare feat of kindness. To think that Superman is going to be this altruistic god? Or Roboman, or Super speedy guy… Are you crazy? It’s just unrealistic. That is what I find silly about it. Not to mention the fact that writing a convincing drama about people that can’t be killed is just impossible.

    I will also say that writing in the extreme creates conversations like this one. Taking a reasonable position on literally anything isn’t interesting to read or to comment on. Just saying.

  7. Pedro

    I know you hate the Marvel Cinematic Universe. I don’t have a strong opinion either way. I’m a huge fan of comic books, but the movies are just there. Some are good,some are bad, the majority are mediocre. So I won’t say a word about your opinion of Endgame. What I will say is that there is no way that you can convince me that Brightburn is a good movie. The fact that you say this just shows how uneducated you are in comic books. The ideia of a realist take on the superhero genre has at least 35 years, when Alan Moore wrote Miracleman and destroyed London, with people impaled in Big Ben, people skinned alive, body members falling from the sky. I’m not just saying this to shock people. The comics is Miracleman 15, torrent it, buy it, whatever. My point is that you, Taylor, don’t know anything about this notion, that has been going on for decades. The fact that you think that Brightburn is a brilliant and original ideia is sad, because it shows that you’re not up to date with this notion, which has been tried and over-used throughtout the years.

    • Taylor Holmes

      I didn’t mean to imply Brightburn was the first of its kind. I’m not on this page as I write this, or I’d re-read what I wrote (no, I actually wouldn’t! hahaha. Not worth it!) but I’m sorry if I gave off any indication that this was a new idea for me. Heck, I recently just reviewed the new Watchmen HBO project, and loved it. And the heart of that experience was super heroes lying to the public. My personal favorite spin on the dark superhero world would be – by far – Chronicle. I loved that movie. And I KNOW I did a review of that movie. (This is happening to me more and more – movies that I KNOW I reviewed, and yet, they are “disappearing” on me. Which, I realize, is the beginnings to a plot of a movie with an unreliable narrator. So yeah, maybe I haven’t actually done a review of Chronicle… but that just breaks my heart really.) Kids gaining superpowers, and then destroying the city. And I’m pretty sure I talked about Steelheart here, right? This isn’t new. Kinda weird that I must have given off an aura of shock or hyperventilating excitement? That gave the impression that I thought this was a new thing?

      And as for me being uneducated in comic books – um, sure. The world of comic books are so enormously big. There’s always something new to read or follow. My personal comic book forays were mainly into Batman, DC, McFarlane, ID, Spawn, and the like. I also got into many different Japanese titles. But yeah, not comprehensive in the least.

      But at the end of the day, it’s fine that you guys don’t like Brightburn. I think my main point was that I’d rather watch Brightburn than watch a Marvel movie. Sure it was dark. And if you don’t roll into where this thing is going – and that it’s more of a horror film than a superhero film, you won’t enjoy it. It caught me on a good day. But if you want to see a film that I really enjoyed that played out the darkness perfectly, then Chronicle is that film. Loved it. It’s dark though, dangit. And it’s not a happy go lucky superhero film. It talks about absolute power corrupting absolutely, and that, personally, is a more real view of the world than any other superhero film. My two cents. Thanks for the comic recommendation… I’ve started flipping through it.

  8. Lisa

    Well, not everyone is a comic book lover so I don’t think that’s anything to get on Taylor about. I still have no idea why he liked this movie, though!

  9. Pedro

    For some reason, I get your response on my email before it shows up here. Firstly, I think I was too smug in my reply, and I apologize. Whether you’re aware about the history of comics books or not, it doesn’t matter.You’re not forced to, it’s not your business. This is a movie site, after all. All I can say is that the idea of superheroes going bad has been done to death in the comic book industry. Secondly,I should have definitely mentioned Chronicle, because while I can enjoy some movies of the MCU, I can never enjoy Brightburn. I think it’s a bad movie, honestly. But Chronicle has two characteristics that I love: it shows a realistic take on normal teenagers that adquire amazing powers and it’s a “found footage” movie, which is one of my guilty pleasures.

  10. Pedro

    Again, I’m forced to reply to a comment from someone that doesn’t appear in the comments list. But I feel like I have to say two things: One, I already apologized to Taylor for my agorrant reply. If he doesn’t know the history of comic books and its long reputation of deconstructing the history of Superman and superheroes and general, it’s not his fault. He has no business knowing it. I’ll recommend The Boys in, I think, Amazon Prime, to see a world where superheroes are corrupt, celebrities, downright evil.
    Two: I agree that Brightburn is a horrible movie. If you hate the Marvel Universe, like Taylor, you might find Brightburn a nice change of pace. But please, watch the movie without the context of the MCU, and you’ll see that it’s a complete failure.

    • Taylor Holmes

      I am a couple episodes into The Boys. I was sold in the first 5 minutes when the main character is holding onto his girlfriend and a superhero blows through her and kills her, and the lead is just holding onto her arms. I was blown away when that happened. So NOT MCU that I giggled with laughter.

  11. Lisa

    I also get replies in my email way before I post here. I think right now as I’m viewing this about 5 new comments have been posted but haven’t appeared yet. In the past I would try to wait until I see them to reply but then I wind up forgetting all about it. But I think most of us are on the same page now? At least now I have a few more suggestions from these comments to watch!

    • Taylor Holmes

      The reason for the delay between the email and the website is because I cache the website, and you were just here. For 99% of visitors it isn’t an issue. But for you two, you are the exception! hahah.

  12. Lisa

    So verbosity is a crime now? Just kidding! I absolutely loved The Boys and I also admit I cracked up at that opening scene because I am just dark like that! I’m loving Watchmen as well.


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