Alex Casey takes you on a guided tour of the M. Night Shyamalan superhero universe to prepare you for the final piece of the Eastrail 177 Trilogy.
For those of you who crave a good cinematic crossover, there’s a quietly ambitious superhero ensemble coming out next week that has been over 18 years in the making. The master of the movie twist, M Night Shyamalan, pulled off his biggest blindside yet in 2016’s Split, revealing in the final frame that the psychological thriller was, in fact, a surprise sequel to Unbreakable, a film he made 16 years prior. Never one to do things by halves, he THEN announced that the two films were to form part of a TRILOGY.
If you are still scratching your head, all you really need to know is that M. Night Shyamalan did a bloody number on all of us again and is now bringing together three of his most iconic characters and weaving his disparate cinematic world into a rich tapestry of surprises. So it’s time to do some homework – here’s a brief tiki tour through what and who to expect from the latest instalment of M. Night Shyamalan superhero universe.
Major spoilers and plot twists lie ahead for both Unbreakable and Split, so proceed with caution.
Mr Glass will be there…
Crimp your cravats and iron your comic books, because Samuel L. Jackson will be reprising his role as Elijah Price, better known as Unbreakable supervillain Mr Glass. First given the nickname as a child due to having brittle bone syndrome, wheelchair-bound Price found solace in comic book characters. Immersing himself in superhero mythology, Price became obsessed with the idea that his exact opposite exists somewhere in the world: an infallible, heroic man with superhuman strength.
It’s his quest to find the heroic counterpart to his villainy that leads him to David Dunn (Bruce Willis), the only survivor of the devastating train crash in Unbreakable. Masquerading as a mentor figure for Dunn and teaching him how to harness his superpowers, it is revealed at the end of the film that Price was the evil one all along, orchestrating the very same train disaster that brought them together. In Glass, he’s back to face Dunn for the first time in well over a decade… and you can bet your ass he’s still rocking that cravat.
As will David Dunn. At the end of 2016’s Split – the second film in the Unbreakable series, even if we didn’t know it at the time – we learned that David Dunn and Mr Glass exist in the same universe as split personality juggernaut Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde (24 roles played by James McAvoy). Long after the events of Unbreakable, where Dunn (Bruce Willis) became a vigilante superhero, several important things are worth remembering in Glass. He still has a phobia of water, he still has a strong moral compass and he can still throw a hell of a punch. That’s probably all you need to know for now.
… along with Kevin and every member of The Horde
The Horde is the catch-all phrase for the 23 personalities that inhabit the mind and body of Kevin Wendell Crumb, the antagonist in Split. There’s Patricia, the prim matron; Hedwig, the nine year-old boy who loves Drake; Dennis, the aggressive creep and many, many more characters to get to know. But the most terrifying of all is The Beast, the malevolent supervillain that inhabits Kevin’s body and is worshipped by all the other personalities.
When The Beast comes to play in Split, Kevin’s veins bulge and his eyes turn black. He can climb walls, he can tear people apart with his bare hands, and he can generally cause a right scene. When it comes to Glass, it pays to remember Kevin’s relationship with Casey, one of the young women kidnapped by The Beast in Split. Also keep in mind The Beast’s philosophy that those who are broken are society’s strongest, a moral standpoint that may or may not be crucial.
It won’t be your average superhero film
In recent years, we’ve been wowed with big, bright, bold superhero movies that are as enthralling and in your face as the nipples on George Clooney’s Batman suit. Glass, like Unbreakable, is different. There won’t be any explosions, or giant metal snakes, or undies being worn on the outside. Instead, Shyamalan envisages a universe that looks a lot like this one, where the heroes walk among us without detection. Could you be one? Could your neighbour? Very possibly.
But you can still expect a LOT of superhero genre nods
There’s no way around the fact that M. Night Shyamalan is a huge nerd who appears to live off pop culture references, meta-commentary and really huge pieces of schnitzel. With all that considered, you can expect a pile of clever winks throughout Glass. Whether it is Shyamalan himself popping up in the most self-aware cameo of all time, or Mr Glass’ endless commentary about the very notion of superhero mythology itself, you’ll be spoiled for brainy tidbits.
Surely this isn’t a surprise coming from the man they named Twisties after (this is 100% not true… or is it?). I don’t want to spoil anything in Glass for you, but stay vigilant throughout because there are a couple of sharp turns that might just knock you out of your seat. And the beauty is, even though I’ve told you just now, you still won’t see them coming.
This content was created in paid partnership with The Walt Disney Company. Learn more about our partnerships here.