By George Bate
Superman remains one of the most iconic characters in pop culture and, over the years, has been interpreted in a variety of unique ways. Although typically portrayed as a beacon of hope and guardian of liberty and justice, some have found exploring the frightening consequences of an all-powerful being to be particularly interesting. For those clamoring for interpretations of Superman (or Superman-esque figures) that explore this philosophical question of a villainous, omnipotent being, there’s a number of projects to dive into.
Brandon Breyer in Brightburn
Brightburn could easily be called Evil Superman. The film asks and answers the question: what if Superman grows up to be a villain. rather than a hero. Like its inspiration, Brightburn is set in rural Kansas and follows a husband and a wife who take care of a child who lands from space. They raise the boy as their own, who soon shows extraordinary talents, including flying, super strength, and heat vision. The problem is the boy deals with his troubles by unleashing his powers on others, ultimately making him an Evil Superman.
Ikaris in Eternals
Richard Madden’s character in Marvel Studios’ Eternals is basically the Marvel version of Superman. The film even pokes fun at this similarity with several jokes and references throughout. But, while Ikaris and Superman share laser-vision, super strength, and even similarly colored costumes, Ikaris ultimately proves to be a showcase of what happens when an all-powerful being has bad intentions. The big twist or reveal in Eternals is that Ikaris is loyal to the Celestials and, in turn, is committed to allowing a new Celestial to be born from Earth, which would bring destruction to the human race.
Omni-Man in Invincible
Prime Video’s animated series features a character named Omni-Man, who, in many ways, is the Superman of the show’s universe. He comes from a planet called Viltrum and endorses views that humans are inferior to people belonging to his planet’s ultimate empire. In a brutal showing, Omni-Man kills the series’ version of Justice League, almost kills his own son, and does a number of other horrible things that make him an Evil Superman.
Homelander in The Boys
Another Prime Video series, The Boys, takes a look at a version of Superman who is narcissistic, spoiled, and radical. On the surface, he is the world’s greatest hero, but deep down he is cold and disturbing.
Superman in Injustice: Gods Among Us
An animated film adaptation of the acclaimed video game, Injustice: Gods Among Us takes place on an alternate Earth in which the Joker has tricked Superman into killing Lois Lane. Driven into madness by his act, Superman turns evil and tries to take control of Earth.