Brightburn Review: Creating Fear out of Hope

Why it's hard to make a simple distinction between fear and hope.

What is the difference between fear and hope?

For a lot of people, this would seem obvious and not worthy of consideration. Fear is bad and hope is good. When people give into fear, it creates division and panic among those who feel it. Whereas hope is supposed to be something that brings people together. It's supposed to give people a sense of community and strength. However, like with most things when it comes to human beings, it's rarely if ever that simple.

If you feel fear, one of the first things you look for is a way out. A way to get to safety where you no longer have to experience the panic that it creates. You're also likely to go looking for those who can help you get away from fear. The power of coming together to fight back against something fearful can bring people together, creating a sense of community and strength. Of course, in order for that to work, you need a common enemy that you can fight against.

Similarly, hope can create division and panic depending on how it goes. Being able to maintain hope is a difficult process. It requires constant reinforcement and a willingness to persevere when things are going wrong. Creating the kind of hopeful future which is often associated with hope doesn't come easy. Often, the simplest way to do that is look towards those who are in the way of creating that hope. One could even say that in order for hope to continue, you need an enemy of sorts who isn't interested in the kind of hope you have.

Previously in this space, there was an examination of the evolution of the concept of evil. How that comes about is the way hope and fear has become less clear cut. Prior to the 1980s, Superman was a powerful symbol of hope, but it's in the 1980s and after, Batman who is a symbol of fear became the person most people gravitated towards. Most interestingly, it was with The Dark Knight Returns where Superman became a villain to many people. He was a symbol of the status quo and the government power that Batman was trying to fight against, and to some extent rightfully so.

Brightburn could in many ways be seen as the ultimate example of this shift. It's an examination of what's considered to be a more realistic take on how humans would handle the arrival of a Superman like figure. A young Kansas couple discover a helpless alien in a field and brings him home to raise as their own. But of course, being an alien he grows up a little differently than other children. He has abilities unlike anyone else. Which of course brings up the question of exactly what he should do with it.

Unlike the powerful metaphor of Superman where it shows how an outsider can become strong and establish themselves in the world, Brightburn takes a different view. They turn to the idea that these powers will be misused and harm people. It's a fascinating idea even if it's not the most hopeful message in the world.

I highly recommend checking it out and consider how the concept of hope and fear has changed.

Watch it on Netflix right now as well as Amazon.

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