WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Brightburn, in theaters now.
While the DC Extended Universe decided to tone down its superhero violence, Sony's Brightburn plays up the gore with a world in which a Clark Kent-like boy turns into a killer rather than a symbol of hope.
As Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn) finally begins to embrace his alien heritage, he murders those who bullied him, along with virtually anyone who comes close to learning his secret. That leads to an emotional roller coaster of a finale in which Brandon follows through on the mission for which he was sent to Earth: to "take the world," with only his parents standing in his way.
HUMAN, NO MORE
His adoptive father, Kyle (David Denman), takes Brandon into the woods outside their town of Brightburn, Kansas, under the pretense of a hunting trip. After finding several clues, Kyle surmises Brandon is the serial killer sought by police, and he decides to kill the boy as he scouts for deer. That's the final straw for the bulletproof Brandon, who dons a mask and incinerates his father's skull using heat vision.
He then heads home to confront his mother, Tori (Elizabeth Banks), after intercepting the call to Kyle in which she says she's found Brandon's sketchpad containing caricatures of his victims. Knowing she's the final loose end, the boy attacks her and kills the police who respond to her 911 call. In the closing moments, Tori escapes to the barn and appeals to her son's humanity, urging him to be a force for good.
It's all a distraction, however, as she broke off a piece of the spaceship he arrived in as an infant, made of the only substance that can cut Brandon. Hugging him, Tori attempts to stab the boy with the shard, only for Brandon to block it and fly with her into the sky. Above the clouds, a furious Brandon drops Tori to her death, purging himself of whatever remains of his humanity, and accepting his destiny as a conqueror.
A DARK LORD IS BORN
After he drops Tori, Brandon brings down a plane onto his farm in an effort to cover up the night's killing spree, which includes the sheriff, police officers and his mother. We see Brandon's symbol on the plane, suggesting that if anyone did survive the crash, he surely took care of them.
The film then cuts to news reports showing Brandon in his mask and cape, committing acts of terrorism all over Brightburn. He's toppling office buildings, igniting wildfires, burning his signature into cornfields, and feeding his ego as a mysterious destroyer the world never knew existed. It's a crimson parade as warms up for an eventual global takeover, starting by dominating the town he grew to hate.
The credits are filled with clips of him basking in his success, spliced with The Big T (Michael T. Rooker), a YouTube vlogger running conspiracy theories about the villain's true identity. He also shows grainy footage of other super-powered beings he believes the government has locked up, warning viewers of the apocalypse. From this obvious state of panic and terror, it's apparent Brandon has achieved his mission and become a tyrant the planet now fears.
Directed by David Yarovesky, Brightburn is produced by James Gunn and written by Brian Gunn and Mark Gunn. The film stars Elizabeth Banks, David Denman, Jackson A. Dunn, Matt Jones, Meredith Hagner, Steve Agee, Becky Wahlstrom and Stephen Blackehart.