Warning: SPOILERS ahead for Brightburn
Brightburn's ending sets up darker versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman who could appear in the sequel. Produced by James Gunn and directed by David Yarovesky, Brightburn is a horror take on the classic Superman origin story, depicting what it would be like if a superpowered alien boy named Brandon Breyer (Jackson A. Dunn), who was raised in Kansas, turned out to be a twisted mass-murderer. In the end, the film lays the groundwork for a greater universe of evil super beings.
Brightburn evokes all of the familiar Smallville tropes before going for broke into pure horror: Tori (Elizabeth Banks) and Kyle (David Denman) Breyer are farmers in Brightburn, Kansas who want to have a family. The answer to their prayers comes when a spaceship containing a baby boy crashes nearby. The Breyers hide the ship in their barn and raise Brandon as their own son but, as he grows up, the boy feels different and is bullied at school. On this 12th birthday, Brandon's ship activates and summons him with an alien language, filling him with a desire to do evil. Further, Brandon, who has never been sick or hurt in his life, gains the powers of flight, super strength and speed, invulnerability, and heat vision. As he grows more distant and alien, feeling that he's "superior", Brandon dons a mask and cape and begins gruesomely killing people who he dislikes or who try to discipline him.
However, Kyle knows Brandon is the cause of all of the town's deaths and that his alien nature has overtaken all of the nurture given to him by his parents. Kyle takes it upon himself to do something about his evil son, but that turns out to be a fatal mistake that pushes Brandon over the edge into murdering his father and starting a catastrophic rampage against his mother. Here's how the film ends its evil Superman story with a setup for even more supervillains existing in the world of Brightburn.
Brightburn's Ending Explained
After defending her son's innocence for the entire movie, Tori found Brandon's drawings depicting all of the murders he committed, proving he's the Brightburn killer. Brandon terrorizes Tori, wrecks the house, and murders the local sheriff and deputy. Tori remembers the metal of the spaceship Brandon arrived in can pierce his skin and make him bleed, so she races to the barn and takes a shard of metal as a shiv. However, Brandon's super reflexes catch Tori before she can stab him. Furious at her betrayal, Brandon flies Erika high into the sky and drops her to her death. To make his rampage appear an accident, Brandon brings down an airplane and crashes it into his farmhouse, killing over 200 passengers. Brandon emerges from the tragedy as an innocent, orphaned survivor.
Brightburn then leaps ahead with a post-credits scene showing Brandon using his powers to commit more acts of terror, such as tearing down an office building and further wrecking the town. Now dubbed "Brightburn" by the media, the masked super menace also leaves his "BB" symbol as his calling card after each malevolent act. If that isn't enough to set up James Gunn's Brightburn 2, the film then shockingly teases even more superpowered beings who are also familiar DC superhero archetypes.
Wonder Woman And Aquaman Exist In Brightburn's Universe (Sort Of)
In an amusing tag, Michael Rooker appears as an Alex Jones-like conspiracy theorist talk show host named The Big T. He hysterically warns about Brightburn, the superpowered villain menacing Kansas, before he mentions even more beings that exist in the world. Big T says that there's a "half-man, half-sea creature" terrorizing the oceans as well as a supernatural woman who chokes victims with a rope. These are obviously references to characters who resemble horror movie versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman. In addition, a photo is shown during The Big T's broadcast of another costumed villain who resembles the Crimson Bolt, the character played by Rainn Wilson in James Gunn's Super, which could mean Super and Brightburn possibly exist in a shared universe.
It's interesting that Brightburn sets up its versions of Aquaman and Wonder Woman to complement its Superman analog. Aquaman and Wonder Woman are the two biggest successes of the DCEU, not just in terms of box office earnings, but also because both films were well-received by audiences and weren't divisive like Man of Steel and Batman V Superman, which Brightburn strongly evokes. It's a fascinating move for Gunn to take the two characters who are now the most globally popular DCEU superheroes and create twisted incarnations of King Arthur and Diana Prince.
As the DCEU becomes brighter and more optimistic, Gunn and Sony's Brightburn universe could emerge as its darker, funhouse mirror-like counterpoint, like how the Injustice comics were to the mainline DC Universe. It will be interesting to see if a Brightburn sequel does go all-in on horror versions of the Amazing Amazon and the King of the Seven Seas - and how audiences will react. An evil spin on Aquaman is even more compelling now since a horror spinoff about The Trench is also in the works.
Will Brightburn 2 Be A Justice League Movie?
Brightburn leaves the door wide open for a sequel and, by establishing other evil super beings in its universe, it lays down the gauntlet for some sort of supervillain team-up. Could Brightburn 2 become a Justice League-like movie that brings in the other characters hinted it? It's also possible that Brightburn 2 could be about Brandon fighting the other villains. Further, Brightburn sets up a world where there is no human opposition that stands a chance against Brandon's powers, so perhaps, like the premise for Suicide Squad, the other villains could be recruited to stop Brightburn. On that note, it's also interesting that no Batman or Lex Luthor-like characters, who are the two DC Comics characters traditionally able to stop Superman, were introduced in the film.
Brightburn himself is a younger version of what Zack Snyder was building towards in his rejected plan for Justice League - an evil Superman out to conquer the world. After all, the mission statement Brandon's alien ship demanded of him is literally "Take the world!" and Brightburn ends with the evil Superboy on the verge of fulfilling that destiny. If there is a Brightburn 2, it could continue to focus on Brandon's world conquest, perhaps with his race invading the Earth just as the Kryptonians did in Man of Steel. However, the tease for more supervillains in the Brightburn universe clearly sets up Brandon meeting other villains. Therefore, Brightburn 2 could indeed become a supervillain team-up horror movie, which is something fans haven't seen before.
- Brightburn (2019) release date: May 24, 2019