In the year 2000, years before the comic book movie renaissance of connected universes and billion dollar franchises, M. Night Shyamalan created an incredible take on the superhero origin with Unbreakable.
Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L Jackson, written and directed by M. Night Shyamalan, follows the sole survivor from a recent train wreck, David Dunn (Bruce Willis), after catching the eye of Elijah Price, (Samuel L. Jackson), Elijah tries to convince David that he has powers like a character out of a comic book. David starts to slowly investigate his own past to see if he really does have superhuman abilities.
At the end of the film, after David has figured out his abilities and saved a family from a serial killer, he meets with Elijah Price again. Elijah started him on this journey and always told him he was special. In the final scene, when David shakes Elijah’s hand, he sees that Elijah has caused a series of accidents trying to find David. He killed hundreds of people looking for an invincible or unbreakable man. “Now that we know who you are, I know who I am.” Elijah says this to David referencing that they both know their place in the world now, David is the hero and Elijah or “Mr. Glass” is his arch villain. A title card reads that David leads the authorities to Mr. Glass and then it abruptly ends.
Unbreakable seems to go unnoticed and looked over when people discuss some of the best superhero movies of all time. Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Trilogy is often praised for a lot of the things that Unbreakable also holds. Its hyper-realism in the retelling of the classic superhero story is incredibly unique, especially if you consider the time of its release, the same year as 2000’s X-Men. It may not be what audiences were looking for in 2000, but in today’s market of an otherworldly $250 Million budgeted Superhero films being mass produced by four major studios, watching Unbreakable is like a breath of fresh air and a timeless film for the genre.
The ending of Unbreakable sets up a very interesting universe. Unbreakable plays as an origin film for David Dunn and for the Villain, Mr. Glass. Unbreakable also references James McAvoy’s character from M. Night Shyamalan’s later film, Split, when Elijah’s mom mentions: “There’s the soldier villain, who fights the hero with his hands.” M. Night Shyamalan has the perfect set up for a superhero universe between Unbreakable and its next installment, Split.
In 2016, Split, starring James McAvoy and Anya Taylor-Joy, also written and directed by Shyamalan was released. The movie follows a man with 23 different personalities, all which live inside the body of Kevin Crumb (James McAvoy), who captures three teenage girls and holds them in a basement under a zoo until his 24th personality, “The Beast” arrives to feed off them. At the end of the film, when the beast comes to feed, one of the girls gets out alive and the beast leaves the basement and now roams free. Once the title card appears we see a tv playing inside a diner saying that McAvoy’s character has been named “The Horde”. The camera pans over and we see an older David Dunn sitting there.
Shortly after the movie hit theaters M. Night Shyamalan confirmed that we will finally see the rest of David Dunn’s and Mr. Glass’s story along with Kevin Crumb’s in next year’s Glass. Glass takes place 19 years after Unbreakable and we now find all three characters in a facility for people who believe they have superpowers “like out of a comic book”. Glass will finally bring a new chapter to David Dunn’s story and we will see how much he has embraced his superhero life in past two decades and what leads to all three characters being caught and kept in the same facility.
This is a story decades in the making and the way it has been created through these three films is very unique. It will be very intriguing to see how this universe will play out and how this trilogy will conclude. Glass is arriving at the perfect time in many ways. Whole Marvel and DC battle back and forth in the realm of superhero films, we get an original superhero story, without any source material, or billion dollar expectations. Being caught between two titans who rule the industry, Glass has a real chance to shine through to audiences as something special, new and unique.