This message contains spoilers for Glass, unbreakable, and To divide.
At M. Night Shyamalan To divide, Unbreakable was the twist. In the final minutes, after James McAvoy’s The Beast goes on a rampage, leaving all but one of the teenage girls he kidnapped dead, Shyamalan reveals that he exists in the same universe as his 2000 film about dark superheroes. . Because there’s Bruce Willis as the very strong David Dunn, drinking coffee and reminding some customers of a man known as Mr. Glass.
So for A glass – its conclusion to the trilogy – the connection between these characters is a given. Still, Night, a king of twists and turns, has a few tricks up his sleeve that cement the relationship between these seemingly unrelated works.
Unbreakable, Shyamalan’s follow-up to his juggernaut The sixth sense, received mixed reviews on release, but gained more respect over time. (It was not a total bomb at the box office, but it hasn’t reached the nearly unattainable heights of its predecessor.) It’s a slow movie with more psychological drama than action: David is a security guard with a failed marriage when he ends up being, miraculously , the sole survivor of a devastating train crash. This puts him on the radar of Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), an eccentric man with a disorder that makes his bones susceptible to breaking.
Teased by his peers as a child – and called “Mr. Glass” – he retreated to a comic book world and became convinced that there were people who were as strong physically as he was physically. What follows is David’s slow awakening, culminating in his acceptance that he does in fact have powers, to be greeted with the revelation that Elijah was the villain from the start. In his efforts to uncover the gifted people of the world, Elijah became a terrorist mastermind, orchestrating train wrecks and other attacks.
While Unbreakable is slow and dark, To divide is kinetic, corresponding to the multiple personalities exhibited by McAvoy’s The Horde, who suffers from dissociative identity disorder. Behind the various characters – including a demanding Briton, a nine-year-old girl and a fashion designer – there is only Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man reeling from the abuse inflicted on him by his mother. Unfortunately, Kevin sometimes transforms into The Beast. In this form, his biceps ripple, he has a taste for human flesh, he can walk on walls and crush people with his grip. The rest of the people inside him (The Horde) are battling internally over whether the Beast should live, in the show’s lingo, “in the light.”
But David and Kevin aren’t just connected based on their abilities. Throughout the film, Shyamalan teases a mysterious detail about Kevin’s father, something David’s son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) stumbles upon in his research. (Searching on Google is so simple, and yet so few cinematic characters choose to do so.) Young Dunn finally announces his discovery during the decisive showdown between the three main characters in the parking lot of the facility where they were held. . Turns out Kevin’s dad, Clarence, was on the same train as David. Like the other unhappy passengers, Clarence passed away, leaving Kevin alone with his cruel mother, whose vicious treatment is what led Kevin to develop his multiple personalities. This means that Mr. Glass can claim to have created The Beast, which he does as he watches his grand plan unfold. He is proud of it, but it is also his loss: the Beast deals fatal blows to Elijah, who collapses.
This is a revival and deepening of one of the most controversial and undercooked topics that Shyamalan introduced in To divide: This trauma produces powers. It’s also a handy way to tie everything together a bit more completely.
If this is the strongest connection between the three films, there is one that is positively silly. It has to do with Shyamalan himself. The director is famous for making cameos in almost all of his films, and in Unbreakable he plays a drug dealer who prowls around the football stadium where David works. In To divide, this is Jai, the keeper of the apartment belonging to Kevin’s hapless therapist (Betty Buckley). It turns out it was the same guy.
As a cover for the heroism, the Dunns run a security company where Jai of Shyamalan stops by to obtain equipment. He recognizes David, and not because he thinks he is the mysterious character called “The Overseer”. No, it’s because he used to hang out Franklin Field with his “shady” buddies. He “turned around,” he said. “Positive thought.” That the drug dealer reformed his life and became a guard was a joke that Shyamalan and his company told about the To divide together, and he made his way in the A glass scenario.
The evolution of A glass is a special film, and he produced a special film. Shyamalan originally designed from The Horde as a villain for Unbreakable, and whether or not he always wanted him to be the product of the same disaster that was David Dunn’s awakening, that fits the tragic message. In the A glass universe, being a real comic book character doesn’t mean fame, it means a legacy of isolation and heartbreak.