Let’s Talk About Glass, M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable and Split Sequel
Spoilers for Unbreakable and Split to follow…
Earlier today M. Night Shyamalan announced via Twitter that his next film will be Glass, a sequel to both Unbreakable and Split. The film will be released on January 18, 2019 and will star James McAvoy, Anya Taylor-Joy, Bruce Willis, and Samuel L. Jackson.
By the way, yes, Split is a sequel to Unbreakable. The thriller from earlier this year in which James McAvoy plays a man, Kevin Wendell Crumb, with multiple personalities—one of them being a full-blown monster called The Beast—ends with Bruce Willis’ character from Unbreakable, David Dunn, in a cafe watching the news that Crumb is on the loose.
Premiering at Fantastic Fest last year, Split’s secret remained intact upon release. When James Newton Howard's Unbreakable score started playing and then when Willis finally appeared, you were either ecstatic (me) or confused. Shyamalan has been talking up a sequel to 2000's Unbreakable for years, with both Willis and Jackson (Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass) expressing interest. It was quite mind-blowing that a sequel managed to creep up on all us by way of a Universal-Blumhouse production, which looked liked another original, stand-out thriller from Shyamalan, following 2015's The Visit.
The January 23rd episode of the podcast Happy Sad Confused with guest Shyamalan does a great job of chronicling his voyage to get Split made. The Visit's box office success turned out to give Shyamalan the confidence he needed to dive back into the world of Unbreakable. As he says on Happy Sad Confused, the story of Crumb was there in the original script of Unbreakable, and was removed to help emphasis the relationship between David Dunn and Mr. Glass.
On first watch, Split proves to be an effective supernatural thriller—a story about trauma, its lasting effects, and who we deal with it. James McAvoy performance(s) as Crumb is the film's highlight, as he jumps from acting like a nine-year-old boy to an older women. Anya Taylor-Joy is the film's heart, taking on Crumb as she deals with her past abuse. But seeing it again, you can't help but connect the dots between it and Unbreakable.
Early on in Split, Dr. Karen Fletcher, played by the spectacular Betty Buckley, theorizes that there are sufferers of Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) have the capability of having supernatural powers. In essence, Fletcher is the believer, much like Jackson's Mr. Glass in Unbreakable. There's myth making in both, with Fletcher elevating her ideas with science, while Mr. Glass had comic books. In an effort to help Crumb, Fletcher tries to unravel the sinister "Horde" that's controlling him, that will eventually turn him into "The Beast". Mr. Glass believed there were people out there with superhuman powers, and caused accidents to try and bring about these beings. Dunn was revealed to be "unbreakable" after a train accident Mr. Glass perpetrated. Both Unbreakable and Split represent two sides of the same coin—Unbreakable is a superhero origin story, while Split is a supervillain origin story.
Connections run rampant; one of Crumb's personalities describes The Beast as this: "He's tall. He's very muscular. And he's got a long mane of hair and his fingers are twice the length of ours." In Unbreakable, Mr. Glass is selling original comic book art, a caped superhero is battling a "beast" that shares the same description as Crumb's. Will we see this scene play out in Glass, with Dunn in a cape and Crumb in full "Beast" mode? Well, we can only hope.
Also, Crumb's origin, it would appear, ties directly to Dunn's. Dunn in Unbreakable is revealed to be superhuman by the train crash caused by Mr. Glass. Crumb's disorder originates from abuse perpetrated by his mother after his father left on a train; Crumb goes to a trainyard to transform in The Beast, further signalling that Crumb and Dunn might be bound by the same train crash, or...Shyamalan just likes trains, as he's confessed before.
That all leads us to Glass. Instead of Willis' reveal at the end of Split, Shyamalan originally wanted to reveal newspapers with photos and headlines revealing that Dunn and Mr. Glass were continuing their battle, with Glass out of the asylum. Shyamalan has backtracked on that a bit and we're not clear exactly were Dunn and Mr. Glass are 17 years later. With the new film titled Glass we could possibly see the story revolving around Jackson's character; Dunn's story was Unbreakable, Crumb's was Split, might Glass be a glimpse inside the mind of Elijah Price/Mr. Glass?
Shyamalan was always hesitant about making any sequel, never wanting to repeat himself, and he's stated that the third entry in the Unbreakable wouldn't be a three-way, bash 'em up—the obvious superhero movie way to go. Glass will present an original idea with all these characters converging, and after waiting so long for a sequel to Unbreakable, we're lucky we have Split and a sequel to come in 2019.