The James Gunn-produced evil Superman film Brightburn leaves the door open for a bigger future, and here's how an adaptation of DC's Injustice storyline could fit into Brightburn 2. From the very first trailer, it was evident just how closely Brightburn was following the Superman mythos and giving it a different twist. The comparisons to Zack Snyder's Man of Steel were clear in the marketing with the construction of the trailers, down to the fonts and phrasing used in them.
But, Brightburn differs greatly from Man of Steel when it comes to where it leaves the superpowered alien boy. The entirety of the film is used to show Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn) uses his newly discovered abilities to further terrorize the people around him. He breaks the hand of a classmate and then kills her mom for what she's said about him. After that, Brandon's own father attempts to kill him and fails, so Brandon uses his laser eyes to blow up his head. He doesn't stop there, though, as he then proceeds to murder his mother when she also tries to kill him and then crashes a plane full of people to cover up what he has done.
If it wasn't apparent already just how vicious Brandon became, Brightburn wraps up with a variety of news clips that show him wreaking further havoc on his small Kansas hometown. He's still alive, active, and very clearly using his powers for his own gain. He believes his purpose is to "take the world" and he's starting by taking over where he grew up. If Brightburn 2 happens, then these seeds will surely be explored further and on a grander scale, and after borrowing from Superman's classic origin stories for the first film, a sequel could pull a similar trick. But there's already a great alternate reality story about an evil Superman ready to be (loosely) recreated.
Injustice Is A DC Future Where Superman Goes Evil
Injustice is a storyline first explored by the Injustice: Gods Among Us video game from 2013. The game is set in an alternate reality where Superman has lost his moral compass, turned evil, and reigns supreme over all. This happens after Joker tricks the Man of Steel into killing Lois Lane, who is pregnant with Superman's child, which triggers the detonation of a nuclear bomb in Metropolis killing millions. Unsurprisingly, Superman is overcome with grief and spirals out of control. He murders Joker and proceeds to do the same to any villain or hero who poses a threat to his newly established totalitarian world government called the One Earth Regime.
This evil, dictator version of Superman is the main antagonist of the Injustice game, as the gameplay instead follows Batman and a collection of other DC characters who form an insurgency to try and stop him. The key to their plan lies with alternate realities, as Batman recruits alternate versions of heroes who have either died or joined Superman's forces to fight alongside them. This eventually leads to an alternate version of Superman traveling to the main timeline to fight his evil self. The evil Superman is defeated and the remaining heroes then attempt to restore their reality to how it was before, which was eventually further explored in a sequel game, Injustice 2.
Brightburn Sets Up Evil Superman... And A Justice League
That story may seem like a bit too much for Brightburn 2 to handle and introduce after the first film was relatively grounded and had a contained story, but it has also done enough leg work already to make it happen. The entire plot of Brightburn is working to set up Brandon as an evil Superman and it does so incredibly well. He's received his mission to take over the world and is shown having no problem doing whatever it takes to get the job done. But we also know thanks to the ending that he is not alone in this universe.
With an evil Superman stand-in introduced, the final few minutes of Brightburn establish the possible foundation for this universe's version of an evil Justice League. A conspiracy theorist newscaster, played by Michael Rooker, is responsible for giving away all of these details, which includes the reveal of a "half-man, half-sea creature" who has terrorized the ocean and a supernatural woman who chokes her victims using a powerful rope. These are clearly Brightburn's versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman, but there's more. The scene also includes an Easter egg for Gunn's first superhero movie Super, as the street level vigilante Crimson Bolt is pictured as well. Crimson Bolt's lack of powers could make him this universe's version of Batman, so he could either be the hero of this piece or be corrupted and join Brightburn's evil super team. These are just the characters we know about, though, so an alternate version of Flash, Cyborg, Green Lantern, Martian Manhunter, and more could also exist in the Brightburn universe.
Brightburn 2 Can Be Injustice... But Darker
All of this could just be fun universe building done by the creative team behind Brightburn, which includes director David Yarovesky and writers Brian and Mark Gunn, as there's no guarantee that Brightburn 2 is going to happen anyway. If it does, then several pieces are already in place for the sequel to tackle the Injustice story but with its own creative diversions. The Injustice game largely focuses on the characters trying to overthrow and defeat Superman, but Brightburn 2 could flip the script to keep the focus on the superpowered evil forces taking over the world. It would also be able to explore the uprising of an evil Superman figure, which is mostly missing from the game and delegated to tie-in comics to explore the five years worth of events between Lois' death and when Superman reigns supreme.
This would be an incredibly dark take for the sequel, but one that fits more in line with the approach Brighburn established. The twisted mindset of Brandon could be further explored in this capacity, while the themes of power become even more prominent as we watch Brandon and his evil Justice League take over the world. Even beyond the darkness of the story and themes that an adaptation of Injustice could bring to Brightburn 2, the small budget franchise could be best fit for such a movie translation because it can actually depict the accurate amount of violence needed to make this believable. A big-budget, live-action adaptation of Injustice would have to pull its punches, but Brightburn 2 could actually show the ruthlessness of the evil Justice League.
Whether or not an Injustice storyline is where a sequel will go, we'll need to first wait and see if Brightburn 2 becomes a reality. The film isn't necessarily lighting up the box office, but there is still a good chance that it can become financially profitable. Brightburn has a low budget, and with all the chatter around it and possibilities for the future, there's excitement to see more. And if we do get a sequel, then an Injustice adaptation could be one of the more fascinating ways to continue the franchise.