The idea of superheroes has been monopolized ever since the Marvel Universe began serving blockbusters in 2008. These kinds of heroes are draped in capes, shields, and badass equipment, often accompanied by a great team of other superhumans to help them save the day. What makes director M. Night Shyamalan exceptional, however, is that he drapes his superheroes in real-life scenarios.
Glass is the final film of a series that began in 2000. Shyamalan’s first movie of the series was Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis as David Dunn, the lone survivor of a tragic train wreck. The film also introduces Samuel L. Jackson’s character Elijah Price, who is wicked intelligent and a comic book collector suffering from osteogenesis imperfecta (his bones are break super easily) but believes that comic books are depictions of people who once existed in the past. The second film was Split (2016), starring James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb. Crumb has Dissociative Identity Disorder, which means that he had 24 personalities—ranging from a nine-year old, a cowboy, a British man, and one that transforms his body into an animal-like creature called “The Horde.” An utterly terrifying movie with a tremendous performance by McAvoy, Split introduced us to a new character while bringing attention to mental illness and traumatic victims (although Shyamalan’s portrayal is definitely overdramatized for the thrill). I strongly recommend seeing both of these movies before viewing Glass because you’ll able to catch some small references and you’ll have a deeper connections with each character.
Glass begins a couple of weeks after the incidents from Split, which is announced in a frightening voiceover. Shyamalan does not hesitate to have our hero, David (also known as the Overseer to the general public), and Kevin (“The Horde”), meet face-to-face. Shyamalan keeps it realistic with both demonstrating their strengths and raw power. Their brawl is close to the climax when they are interrupted by Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson), a psychologist from the local psychiatric hospital. They are both taken prisoner to the ward that Elijah Price has been held in for the past 15 years. Dr. Staple is prepared for her superhuman patients, with each room catered to each character’s weakness: David’s is water, so his room is filled with high-powered faucets in every corner, and Kevin’s is extreme light, so there are massive lights that are automatically triggered if a hostile identity is in the room. Since Elijah has been sedated heavily and is in a wheelchair, Dr. Staple assumes he shouldn’t be a problem— which is what he wants us to believe. Elijah’s mother— who we met briefly in Unbreakable—returns in Glass to explain that Elijah was able to memorize a blueprint of the facility and shutdown the electrical grid by memory. Dr. Staple’s job is to prove to these three are not superheroes, so they don’t go to prison for the rest of their lives.
The movie flows quickly to a point where our superheroes are interviewed together by Dr. Staple and she almost convinces them that they are not super at all. But with their faith in their powers down, Elijah presents a masterful plan to break out. With no care at who dies, Elijah and Kevin “The Horde” team up as the villains to reveal that superheroes exist and the only one to stop them is David.
Overall, Glass is an entertaining movie, but isn’t Shyamalan’s best work. He makes sure to include the important side characters from the prior two movies, Elijah’s mother, David’s son Joseph, and the lone survivor of The Horde’s last attack, Casey. These characters feel forced, as though they had to be a part of the equation. We learn more about them than our superheroes; I would have preferred some backstory to David, Elijah, and Kevin’s powers. They show some sad and painful flashbacks, but should have added a few more and decreased the side characters.
The finale is nothing like Avengers: Infinity War but it is realistic with a couple plot twists that leave you questioning reality when you leave the theater. I’ve always been a fan of M. Night Shyamalan movies especially Signs (2002), The Village (2004), and the well-known The Sixth Sense (1999). He is extremely unique in this Hollywood era because he regularly writes, directs, and produces his movies, which is a talent many don’t have. Glass was definitely closure for the Unbreakable and Split fans, but wasn’t his best work.