The details may be different, but make no mistake, Brightburn is a reimagining of Superman’s origin story, asking what would’ve happened to Clark Kent if the emergence of his powers made him lose his marbles. The answer is a lot of carnage, with the promise of more to come.
In the newer DC movies, Superman is known to say that the S symbol on his chest stands for “hope”. That detail makes it quite chilling to consider the possible meanings of the symbol Brandon leaves at the scene of his crimes.
Just like Superman’s “S” most obviously stands for “Superman,” Brandon’s symbol seems to be his initials: “Brandon Breyer.” It could also stand for the town’s name, “Brightburn,” which eventually becomes the superhero-like name Brandon is known by.
But the symbol also serves two less obvious purposes. First, it hints that Brandon’s instability isn’t necessarily as new to him as the emergence of his super powers. We see the drawing scrawled all over his notebook, suggesting he’s been fixating on this ominous symbol for a long time. Second, it acts as a tribute to the old comic book trope of giving characters first and last names starting with the same letter, or in the case of Clark Kent, the same consonant sound: characters like Lois Lane, Lex Luthor, Peter Parker, and so on.
You know Brandon is entering his instant kill mode when he slips a creepy face mask over his head. You might wonder why Brandon does that, since mask-wearing is one of the few superhero tropes you can’t trace back to Superman. He’s always been more of a glasses guy.
While Brandon does take some precautions to conceal his identity, that eventually seems to have little to do with the mask. When he attacks his family members, Brandon dons the mask even though it’s clear his victims know who he is.
So why does he wear it? Firstly, it’s creepy and looks cool. Second, Superman didn’t wear a mask, and that may be the point, setting Brandon visually apart from the Man of Steel.
Most importantly, it sets Brandon apart from us. One of the most telling moments in Brightburn comes when Brandon tells his aunt Merilee that he’s “superior.” His mask is his way of telling his victims that even though he doesn’t look like an alien, he is something different, and they should be afraid. Keep watching the video to see the rest of the ending of Brightburn explained!
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A symbol of “nope” | 0:16
Mask on | 1:17
Mother and son | 2:13
Collision and cover-up | 3:26
The Justice League of Horror | 4:17