This weekend sees the release of Brightburn (and it’s pretty good!), the story of a couple (Elizabeth Banks and David Denman) who raises a baby boy after he mysteriously crash lands from the sky in their backyard. As the child grows up, he starts exhibiting incredible strength and other unbelievable abilities. However, this isn’t a Superman origin story that creates a hero to save the world. This is a twisted take on the superhero mythos where the kid heads down a dark path and chooses to use his powers for evil.
Brightburn is directed by David Yarovesky, but it’s produced by Guardians of the Galaxy helmer James Gunn, and written by his brother and cousin Mark Gunn and Brian Gunn. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that there are a couple of Easter eggs that seem to connect the movie to one of James Gunn’s other superhero movies.
But in order to discuss it, we have to dive into some spoilers for the movie, so you’ve been warned.
At the end of Brightburn, the murderous superpowered kid Brandon Beyer (Jackson A. Dunn) has killed everyone who has crossed his path. Even his adoptive mother, who stood by him as long as she could, ended up trying to stop him. And as a consequence, Brandon flew her high up into the air and dropped her to the ground.
Shortly after dropping his mother from a high altitude, a passenger plane comes flying towards him from the distance before the movie cuts to black. Then we fade in on the ground where the plane has destroyed Brandon’s house and killed everyone aboard. We knew Brandon was becoming one bad kid, but this escalates his evil tendencies to a whole new level. But at the end of the movie, he sits calmly on the back of an ambulance, evidence of his parents’ murders hidden by the plane crash, and believed to be a lucky survivor of a terrible accident. But we know better.
Soon, the rest of the world starts to get a glimpse at the evil Brandon Beyer. During the film’s credits, we see a series of news reports and internet videos showing a mysterious floating figure at the site of several deadly tragedies. The videos end with a surprise appearance by Guardians of the Galaxy co-star Michael Rooker, a regular participator in James Gunn’s movies. Rooker plays a conspiracy theorist InfoWars-style host who believes that all these events are caused by the same thing. He warns people that this superpowered being is real, and there are more of them already among us. There are even some sketches and blurry photos of some of these supposed sightings.
That’s a solid set-up for a sequel where Brandon Beyer, who has come to be known as Brightburn in this series of videos, could have a formidable foe to deal with. But one of the pictures features a character we’ve already seen in one of James Gunn’s movies. Unfortunately, it’s not anyone from the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. Instead, it’s from James Gunn’s first superhero movie.
That movie is Super, the dark superhero comedy that has The Office star Rainn Wilson playing a hapless short-order cook named Frank Darbo who suddenly believes he’s been chosen by God to become a superhero. So he becomes the costumed vigilante known as The Crimson Bolt. Armed with a pipe wrench, he begins to fight crime by delivering savage beatings to various criminals, including drug dealers, child molesters, and a man who cuts in line at the movies.
It looks like The Crimson Bolt may share the same universe as Brighburn, because a photo of the character is seen among the other possible superpowered people that appear in the video while Rooker continues his rant. Just to be sure I wasn’t crazy, I reached out to James Gunn on Twitter to confirm this Easter egg, and while he didn’t actually say anything in response, he did like the tweet, which sounds like confirmation to us.
If you need any further evidence of this Easter egg, the diner in which a gruesome murder takes place at the hands of Brightburn is called Darbo’s. It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Frank ended up buying a diner after being a short-order cook. It’s been nine years since the events of Super, and it would stand to reason that he’s made enough money to have his own restaurant. But he’s never seen working there because he has all that crime to fight. Every superhero needs a front to hide their identity.
However, if you’re hoping for some kind of square-off between The Crimson Bolt and Brightburn, that’s probably not in the cards. Frank Darbo didn’t actually have any superpowers, so even though he had the courage to stand up to some drug dealers, he really doesn’t have the power to stand up to someone like Brightburn. But still, it’s good to know that he’s out there still dealing with crime while Brightburn destroys the planet.
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