At San Diego Comic this weekend, Universal Pictures released the first full trailer of Glass, M. Night Shyamalan’s conclusion to the superhero story he began with Unbreakable (2000) and continued with Split (2016).
Originally intended to mirror a comic book three part story structure, Unbreakable told the story of security guard David Dunn played by Bruce Willis who is the sole survivor of a horrific train crash. After the incident, he meets with a disabled comic art gallery owner Elijah Price played by Samuel L. Jackson who suggests that Dunn may have superpowers. Afflicted with a rare bone disability that makes his bones brittle and easy to break, “Mr. Glass” suggest that there are other’s out there like themselves. Dunn spends most of the movie discovering the extent of his powers and trying to use them to help people while trying to navigate a strained relationship with his family. Near the end, he learns that Elijah is not only responsible for his earlier crash but also dozens of other incidents all in pursuit of finding other super powered individuals. David walks away from Elijah who believes he was meant to be David’s super villain and is eventually arrested, tried, and sentenced to an institution for the criminally insane. It opened to good reviews, $248 million at the box office, and is considered both a cult film and one of the best superhero movies ever made.
After years of development and questionable movie decisions from the writer/director, Split told the story of Kevin Crumb played by James Macavoy who suffers extreme dissociative learning disorder with 23 distinct personalities within his body. He kidnaps three teenage girls Casey, Monica, and Claire and keeps them hostage as the more dominant personalities express that the girls are intended as some kind of sacrifice to “The Beast”, an unseen 24th personality. As the girls attempt and fail to escape or manipulate the other personalities within Kevin, we gradually see the emergence of the Beast as a personality that is a sociopath, cannibalistic but also grants Kevin incredible strength and speed. As the Beast hunts down and devours Claire and Monica, Casey manages to escape a similar fate upon the discovery that she is also is a victim of suffering and abuse. The Beast declares its mission is to cleanse the world of the untouched, those who he deems impure for having never suffered, and spares Casey. A while later, Kevin’s mission has the media calling him the Horde and a cameo by David Dunn proved to be the biggest twist M. Night’s done in years. Not only is Split a super-villain solo/origin story but it is the second act in a superhero trilogy that many thought was never going to be completed until now.
The Glass trailer connects all three characters: David Dunn, Kevin Crumb, and Elijah Price in one theme: they have all been institutionalized for believing they have superpowers. As narrated by Dr. Ellie Staple played by Sarah Paulson, she is a psychologist who specializes in treating people who believe they are superheroes. Dr. Staple claims that it’s a growing field which may support Glass’ previous claim that there are others out there like them and their exposure to the world may be his primary motivation in this movie. It would appear that Mr. Glass and the Horde will be working together with Dunn set as the hero who will stop them both. It’ll be interesting seeing how Dunn’s powers have evolved since we last saw him or what diabolical plans Price has setting up since his incarceration. We can already tell that there are a few new personalities within the Horde which continues to cement McAvoy’s excellent acting abilities and returning cameo from Casey, his sole survivor played by Anya Taylor-Joy. M. Night’s approach to comics and superheroes continue his trend of grounding the fantastic with elements of reality and frankly this is a welcome break in a genre dominated by comic book companies like DC and Marvel. Glass is a serious film that thinks less about how their characters will appear on action figures and more about the symbolism of the characters themselves or the cohesive flow of the film as a whole. As a fan of Unbreakable, I was taken by surprise watching Split when it was revealed both films were within the same universe. Glass completes the trilogy that M. Night started almost 20 years ago and I cannot wait to see how this story ends, words that I haven’t truly said about an M. Night Shyamalan film in a long time. What a twist indeed.