Director M. Night Shyamalan can be excused for some of his enthusiasm; he’s finally getting to unveil the superhero world he designed back in 2000’s Unbreakable. While speaking at CinemaCon in Las Vegas to promote his upcoming film Glass — a sequel to both Unbreakable and last year’s surprise hit Split — the filmmaker referred to the project as “the first truly grounded comic book movie.”
According to Entertainment Weekly, the film will see Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price — aka Mister Glass — Split villain Kevin (James McAvoy) and Unbreakable‘s David Dunn (Bruce Willis) locked up in a mental hospital together as Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) tries to understand why they all believe they have superpowers. Eventually, Glass tries to form an alliance with the Beast, Kevin’s abhorrent personality at the core of Split.
When Unbreakable was first release, Shyamalan referred to it as the first act of a three-part superhero tale. In the film, Dunn comes to understands his powers and learns the truth about his archenemy, Mister Glass. The second film never materialized as Shyamalan went on to direct Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening and The Last Airbender. The decline in critical and financial successes with each film’s release left the director with fewer and fewer resources to come back to his Unbreakable plan. Then came Split, a modestly-made film which allowed the director to rediscover his footing. He also put an Unbreakable easter egg into the proceedings by including Jackson as Glass. Now, eighteen years later, he will finally continue the Unbreakable sequel.
But does it necessarily need to be “grounded?” It’s a word you see a lot when productions discuss the way they will be different from, say, the Joel Schumacher Batman films. The belief is that core comic book elements put movie audiences off and, therefore, need to be “grounded” in the real world. Unbreakable is the platonic ideal the “grounded” superhero film with Willis’s Dunn existing in an otherwise conventional reality. He and Glass are the only fantastic creatures in the world. But the inclusion of Kevin leads to a new phase for the filmmaker’s experiment. Can it remain grounded when the supervillains finally meet? And, perhaps, more importantly, is it something audiences now in love with the superhero craziness of Marvel want at this point? It will be interesting to see if Shyamalan can finally pull this off.
Glass opens on January 18th, 2019.