Superhero movies took over the world so long ago that their empire is enduring the typical slow death of overexpansion. Brightburn set out to fill the blatant void in the market for superhero horror films. The studios would never risk any of their marketable IP with an R-rating. James Gunn, his cousin Mark, and his brother Brian stepped in to take the evil Superman gimmick to its logical conclusion. Imagine them doing it again with Brightburn 2.
Since Brightburn was released, James Gunn has become the most talked-about figure in the superhero genre. He’s DC’s Kevin Feige, with the added responsibility of making several of the best films in the franchise. He already had his name on the best trilogy in the MCU. His connection to Brightburn was the selling point in the trailers. A sequel would likely garner much more attention.
Brightburn 2 Must Make Brandon A Character
Brandon Breyer is the antagonist of Brightburn. He’s the evil Superman who is treated like the main character until things start to go wrong. He doesn’t have much of a personality. His origin story and early life are poached from Clark Kent, often going so far as to borrow shots from Man of Steel. When he reaches age 12, he finds his superpowers. He was quiet, sweet, calm, and mundane before discovering his abilities. Brandon becomes a monster shortly after noticing his invulnerability. There’s little investigation or discussion as to why. The barely-present implication is that any 12-year-old would immediately crush and kill anyone who crossed him. Anyone who knows a middle schooler might agree with that assertion. However, within the context of the film, watching a charming kid become Jason Voorhees in the space of eleven minutes weakens the impact. The only conflict in his sudden heel turn is his love for his mother. Was he only ever tethered to humankind because he cared about his mommy? If so, how did no one ever notice he was unhinged? Brightburn 2 must build Brandon Breyer into a compelling, conflicting, complex character.
Brightburn 2 Must Refine Its Satire
Brightburn has nothing worthwhile to say about the superhero genre it’s supposedly based in. It’s a horror movie that borrows some of the trappings of comic book adaptations. The first film was released a decade into the MCU’s cultural domination. A theoretical Brightburn 2 would launch after the fifteenth anniversary of the movement. Audiences have started to shy away from the genre toward things like Barbie and Oppenheimer. Instead of hitting the screen a month after Avengers: Endgame, a sequel would drop after Thunderbolts. There’s so much satire that can be done around the genre, but Brightburn makes no effort to find points of mockery. Even James Gunn’s typical black comedy styling fails to attack the superhero movies that could have been a target. The film has a simple, enjoyable premise that could have been a gateway to attack the broader excesses of the franchises. The Boys, Deadpool, Invincible, and numerous other entries in this subgenre have found worthwhile things to say. The horror of a pre-teen with super-strength pales in comparison to the terror of cultural hegemony. Brightburn 2 can let the Gunn family unpack their experience with the superhero genre.
Brightburn 2 Must Ditch the Evil Superman Gimmick
There comes a time when the world must look at a cultural idea and universally acknowledge that it is done. Homelander and Omni-Man are two of the most celebrated and en-vogue fictional characters on Earth over the past few years. DC Comics has produced a dozen different in-house versions of evil Superman. Almost every recent live-action take on the character has been another example of this increasingly overplayed trope. The world gets it. Every fan has seen the most powerful and morally unflappable hero do something terrible. It works for horror, comedy, action, and everything in between. The rare examples of hopeful, optimistic Superman are immediately celebrated by audiences who are sick and tired of the same gimmick. Brightburn came out two months before The Boys and two years before Invincible. A world still fawning over Omni-Man and Homelander doesn’t have room for Brandon Breyer. It’ll be almost impossible, but to do anything worthwhile, Brightburn 2 has to find a new angle.
Brightburn 2 has an incredibly steep uphill climb to getting produced. Interest in a sequel to this utterly forgotten 2019 mid-budget outing is low. Brian and Mark Gunn have no established credits since Brightburn. Director David Yarovesky has one new film to his name, a 2021 Netflix entry called Nightbooks. James Gunn has been asked whether a Brightburn 2 could be in the works, he hasn’t squashed the idea, but he hasn’t supported it. Gunn is perhaps the busiest filmmaker at his level right now, so fans shouldn’t hold their breath. On the off chance Brightburn 2 gets off the ground, some choices must be made to let it fly.