James Gunn explains why superhero-horror film Brightburn is a perfect summer movie
The James Gunn-produced Brightburn (out May 24) is a horror twist on the superhero genre. Elizabeth Banks and David Denman play a couple raising an extraterrestrial child (Jackson A. Dunn) who doesn't exactly share Clark Kent's love for the human race. The moral? "Maybe adopting an alien baby you find in the woods isn't the best idea," says director David Yarovesky.
Brightburn is very much a family affair. The script was written by Gunn's brother Brian and their cousin Mark Gunn. "Brian and Mark were talking about doing this new take on the superhero myth," says the producer and Guardians of the Galaxy franchise director. "It was a creepy, scary, almost independent-movie-type script. We just kept bashing this thing out for about six months, eight months before we got the script to a place where we thought, 'Yeah, let's go make that.'"
Meanwhile, the creepy mask worn by Jackson's character Brandon was created by the film's costume designer, Autumn Steed, who is also the wife of Yarovesky. "I just gave so many notes on that mask," says Gunn, "trying to create a really truly iconic horror movie character in the same way that Freddy Krueger is, or in the same way that Leatherface is, or in the same way that Jason is. Trying to create something with that same sort of feel that is instantly scary [and] plays with the superhero-ness of it all but at the same time is most definitely rooted in horror."
"In the process of getting to the final result — that we're all incredibly proud of — she was like a factory," says Yarovesky. "She would just make so many different iterations of the mask. At a certain point, I came into her office, and her wall was wallpapered with iterations of the mask, just the evolution of it is crazy. I just think she did an incredible job. I'd buy it because she's my wife, but I do think she did an incredible job."
Gunn previously worked with Banks on his 2006 horror film Slither. "We wanted to create a movie that was not only a great movie but was actually pleasant to make with people who we trusted and loved around us," he says. "Elizabeth is one of my very close friends and since she starred in Slither I've wanted to work with her again. This was a perfect opportunity to create something that I think spoke to her very specifically, so she was excited about it."
The Brightburn release date moved from November 2018 to May 2019 after controversy erupted last summer around Gunn's old tweets, but the producer contends that Brightburn is "a great Memorial Day movie. Who doesn't want to see an alien child on a murderous rampage as we begin our summer?"
See an exclusive image from the movie above.
For more of our Summer Movie Preview, read it here, or pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly — on stands Friday, or buy it here now. Don't forget to subscribe for more exclusive interviews and photos, only in EW.