James Gunn didn’t write or direct the new superhero horror feature Brightburn, but he did have a significant role in its creation. In addition to producing the film through his Troll Court Entertainment banner, he was a regular presence on set during shooting, and is a mentor of sorts to helmer David Yarovesky (who previously directed the “Guardians Of The Galaxy: Inferno” music video). His fingerprints are most definitely all over the work… and there’s even a special little Easter egg snuck in that ties back to one of his previous movies.
The movie in question is 2011’s Super – which James Gunn made just prior to venturing into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Guardians of the Galaxy. The independent comedy stars Rainn Wilson as Frank Darbo, a short order cook who becomes a low-rent costumed vigilante when his wife (Liv Tyler) leaves him for a local crime boss (Kevin Bacon). The plot of the film doesn’t really factor into Brightburn, but while watching the new release I couldn’t help but notice the name of the diner where a few of significant scenes take place: Darbo’s.
Does this mean that Super and Brightburn take place within the same continuity? I brought this question with me when I attended the Los Angeles press day for Brightburn this past weekend, and when I sat down with James Gunn and star Elizabeth Banks I got official confirmation:
Apparently at some point between the events of Super and Brightburn Frank Darbo moved to Kansas and graduated from being a short order cook to a restaurant owner with his name on the outside of the building. It may not be a full-on diner franchise, as James Gunn pointed out, but it does suggest a nice happy ending for the character beyond the events that unfold at the end of the 2011 film.
The connections between Brightburn and James Gunn’s past work may not stop there, however. Recognizing that Gunn and Elizabeth Banks previously collaborated on the writer/director’s first feature, Slither, I followed up my Super question by asking the duo about the possibility of a link between those two movies as well. It was an idea that Banks embraced, explaining,
Well, we don't know what planet Brandon is from or what else could be coming. We don't know! We don't know what else there might be... There's so much alien, you know... there's crap floating around out there and just lands here every once in a while.
Given their similar looks, this might mean that there is a link between Banks’ two characters – Slither’s Starla and Brightburn’s Tori – but that’s certainly not impossible. We never learned much about Starla’s family in the 2006 movie, so perhaps Tori is her cousin from Kansas… who just so happens has an extraterrestrial encounter of her own when she makes the decision to adopt a baby who crash lands on Earth in a spaceship.
Obviously this isn’t spoiler-y at all, but instead a fun Easter egg you can look out for when you go see Brightburn yourself. The new movie arrives in theaters nationwide this weekend, and we’ll have more from my interviews with the cast and filmmakers coming to CinemaBlend in the next few days – so stay tuned!