HEAT VISION

'Glass': What to Remember From 'Unbreakable' and 'Split'

What came before the end of M. Night Shyamalan's ersatz superhero trilogy?

[This story contains spoilers for Unbreakable and Split]

Glass is a week away from hitting theaters, completing M. Night Shyamalan’s trilogy of almost-superhero movies with the one thing that, ironically, everyone in the audience has expected all along: a crossover. But for those who haven’t don’t remember everything about the Shyamalan-verse to date, here’s what you need to know before heading to the multiplex.

The trilogy started in 2000, with Unbreakable, the movie that introduced the term “Type I osteogenesis imperfecta” to audiences across the world. That’s the “brittle bones” disease that Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price suffers from, which makes him particularly susceptible to injury. It’s that condition that made Price — a Philadelphia comic book art dealer, because why not underscore the comic book inspiration for this world? — search for someone who represents his physical opposite: a man impervious to harm.

He found that man in David Dunn (Bruce Willis), a security guard who happened to be the sole survivor of a train accident that killed 131 people. Price tracked down Dunn and, through a combination of persuasion and being unnervingly creepy, managed to convince him that he is more than just lucky; it turned out that Dunn was superhuman, beyond his seeming invulnerability — he could also sense the criminal pasts and futures of people simply by touching them. Unsurprisingly, the combination of these abilities meant that he turned to crimefighting, because … well, wouldn’t you …?

The ability to uncover evil intent upon touch also meant that Dunn discovered the truth about Price — he’s a psychopath who, in his attempt to uncover his opposite, has been the cause of a number of terrorist attacks and “accidents,” including the train crash that Dunn survived. Moreover, he sees himself as a supervillain called Mr. Glass, and believed that Dunn was his arch-nemesis. As Unbreakable ends, it’s revealed that Price has been committed to a psychiatric hospital.

Cut to 15 years later, although Split was actually released 16 years afterward. (The “15 years” figure is referenced in the movie itself.) Three young girls have gone missing in Philadelphia, having been kidnapped by Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a man with multiple distinct personalities; it’s revealed that the girls have been kidnapped as a potential sacrifice toward a mythical figure for multiple of Crumb’s personalities — “The Beast,” which turns out to be another personality of Crumb’s.

There is, of course, a complication to all of this: Like Dunn, Crumb, too, has superpowers, with his body chemistry changing depending on which personality is dominant at that moment. In terms of The Beast, this manifests as a cannibalistic super-strong monster who is unnaturally agile. The cannibal angle is revealed by the fact that Crumb/The Beast eats two of the three kidnapped girls; the third, Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), is rescued after being abandoned by The Beast because she had been abused as a child, and was therefore considered “pure” by The Beast’s reasoning. Along the way, she learned that the only way to reach Crumb and disable the beast (albeit momentarily) was to speak Kevin Wendle Crumb's name aloud. 

By the time Split ends, Crumb is still at large, but his existence is known to the public after Casey’s rescue. The news media has already nicknamed him “The Horde,” due to his multiple personalities, and coverage compared him to Elijah Price — something which caught the attention of none other than David Dunn.

As trailers for Glass have shown, the movie will bring Dunn, Price and Crumb together under the eye of Dr. Ellie Staple, a psychiatrist played by Sarah Paulson — a character brand new to the series with this final installment. But that’s not to say that she won’t have hidden connections to anything already established, or even that there aren’t hidden connections between characters we already know about. For example, if Price manipulated events relating to Dunn’s past, who’s to say he hasn’t done the same to Crumb? 

All — or, at least, some — will be revealed when Glass opens on Jan. 18.

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