Elizabeth Banks isn’t necessarily known for taking part in superhero or even horror genres. She’s spent a career churning out movies more in the comedic vein and been damn good at as well. From a longer stint on one of the most popular sitcoms ever to a turn as a camp counselor in a cult classic, the actress is one of the more underrated funny voices in the game. But she does have a flick, blowing up on streaming right now, that is almost completely different than her work in the past. Go check out Brightburn which is among the most-streamed movies on Netflix right now.
As of last week, Brightburn was sitting at 10th on Netflix for most-watched movies, putting the Elizabeth Banks-led film with flicks like Lupin and Bridgeton. The film’s concept is simple and concise, though I’m surprised we haven’t seen it done before. It’s a take on the superhero genre but adds in a definitively horror/ thriller element to give it it’s own vibe.
Essentially, Brightburn is a reimagining of the classic Superman story from its original conceit. Tori Breyer (Elizabeth Banks) and her husband Kyle (David Denman) live on a midwest farm not too dissimilar from Jonathan and Martha Kent. They are desperate for a child and one night their prayers are “answered” when a spaceship crash-lands on their property with a baby inside. Sound familiar? Ok good, because so far this is one-to-one on how Kal-El found himself on Earth. Check out the trailer for Brightburn
Where the story starts to diverge is when we catch up with Elizabeth Banks and her “son” Brandon (Jackson A. Dunne) years later when he’s on the verge of teen hood. It seems the boy has been struggling with a sense that something isn’t right in his world and his parents might not have been totally honest with him about his past.
See, it turns out that unlike the Superman story, Elizabeth Banks and company choose to keep it hidden about Brandon’s roots. It begins to cause a rift between them and has Brandon questioning what’s happening with his powers. And instead of a sense of good and justice, Brandon starts to head in the other direction. It’s a much (much) more evil turn and has him becoming basically the Bizarro-Superman version.
The rest of the movie deals with how an all-powerful alien boy who has all the powers of Superman (flight, heat vision, super strength, etc) would deal with feeling like the world is against him. Elizabeth Banks’s character has to watch in horror as he descends into evil and the movie takes an incredibly dark turn.
It’s easy to see why Brightburn would be a popular watch. In a world where superhero movies are becoming a dime a dozen it’s sometimes refreshing to get a totally different take on the genre. Few go the horror route, but this one does. And Elizabeth Banks is helpful in grounding the movie in a traditional sense. But she also is able to show the sheer terror around the realization that her son might be an unstoppable and indestructible force in the universe.
Brightburn saw a modest box office draw when it came out a few years ago, earning about $33 million on its roughly $10 million budget. Critics were lukewarm on the film, scoring it 58% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 44 on Metacritic though the user rating was much higher with a 6.4.
There have been talks of a sequel to Brightburn with producer James Gunn intimating that he was interested in helping bring more of this story to the screen. Considering his brothers Matt and Brian wrote the script, you could see why the family would want to keep working together on this followup. As for Elizabeth Banks returning? That’s unlikely at this point.
Elizabeth Banks has another popular movie playing on Netflix right now as well. She’s alongside Russell Crowe in Anything for Her. Next up for the actress is in Taylor Hackford’s Signal Hill with co-stars Anthony Mackie and Jamie Foxx. And then she’ll team up with Kate Mara in Call Jane. For now, though, catch her in a new spin on the superhero genre.