After the success of M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable in 2000, the India-born Pennsylvania-native filmmaker released a secret follow-up in January of 2017 titled Split. The twist ending of that film had people asking what would come next. This month, Shyamalan pulled through with his promise and released a third film titled Glass.
In this article, we review the film as well as the filmmaker’s integration of comic book elements as he uses his famous surprise twist endings.
As the title suggests, we will have spoilers. If you have seen the film or do not mind spoilers, please proceed. Otherwise, watch the movie first, then return to this article. We also recommend having seen Unbreakable and Split, too, as plot details from those two films are found in Glass.
The film begins with Kevin Wendell Crumb’s personalities (also known as the Horde) arguing as they have four teenage cheerleaders restrained in chains inside of an abandoned factory. The Beast has “shown [his form] twice” and will return soon. Patricia, one of Kevin’s twenty-four personalities, walks into the room and asks the high school girls if any of them would indulge in a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Elsewhere, two young male adults are filming themselves jump an innocent citizen with a “Superman punch.” At one of the two’s household, a man wearing a hooded rain poncho enters through the back and takes down the men.
The man, David Dunn, retreats to his company store, Dunn Home Security, where the back room serves as his secret headquarters. In the back room, his son, Joseph Dunn is behind computer monitors as David’s eyes and ears of Philadelphia. David’s superhero alias, The Overseer is wanted by police authorities. The father and son discuss a criminal kidnapping his victims, the first of which is a girl that escaped the city’s zoo three weeks ago (implying the initial events of Glass takes place shortly after Split). David heads home, where his wife Audrey is revealed to have passed away.
Back inside the abandoned factory the next morning, Hedwig (Kevin’s 9-year-old male personality) is on rollerskates as he warns the Horde’s captives about the arrival of the Beast, the twenty-fourth personality with superhuman strength. He says the girls have fallen victim to the Horde’s crimes because they are “impure and have not done any suffering.”
Meanwhile, at Dunn Home Security, Jai, a security guard from Kevin’s former psychologist Karen Fletcher’s apartment building is purchasing a security system from Joseph. David walks in. Jai notices him as a former security guard from the city’s university stadium. Jai also hints that David confronted him about selling drugs at the stadium in his “youth.”
David and Joseph get a lead on the kidnapper, and David investigates an area full of construction workers, all of whom are found not involved with the kidnapping. He runs into a childish man with headphones on, revealed to be Hedwig. David heads into the abandoned factory while Hedwig walks in the opposite direction. Hedwig walks into an underground section of the city, where he meets a group of homeless people. Kevin’s body switches personalities from Hedwig into the Beast as the homeless asks who he is. The Beast replies, “I am you.”
David, as the Overseer, frees the cheerleaders only for the Beast to arrive. The Beast and the Overseer fight as the girls flee. In the ensuing battle, the two break through a window and land outside the factory under the rainy night. They are surrounded by authorities, who flash a series of lights at the Beast. Kevin’s body turns into another personality, Barry, and is taken to “the West Wing [of] Raven Hill Memorial [Hospital]” along with David. Joseph takes note of this as the Overseer’s eyes and ears.
At this mental institution, psychiatrist Ellie Staple introduces herself to David and Kevin as a woman who “specializes in delusions of grandeur” to people who are convinced they are superheroes. In David’s room, she tells him that she has seen footage of the train wreck that changed his life. She suggests the event caused his frontal lobe to be damaged. (His room’s ceiling has water pressure hoses that are connected to a tank and will weaken him if he ever decides to escape.) Both David and Kevin ask Staple to leave, but she refuses.
Pierce, Elijah’s caretaker at Raven Hill, tells a sedated Elijah of David Dunn’s arrival at the hospital.
At a high school in the city, the Horde’s former victim Casey Cooke is notified of her captor’s confinement. (Joseph Dunn is also revealed to have attended this school.)
At Raven Hill, Kevin’s body annoys an employee, Daryl, while taking the form of the personalities Jade, twins Ian and Mary Reynolds, and Norma. Elijah’s mother visits the institution to speak to Staple. Mrs. Price tells the psychiatrist that her son “has changed over the years until he has given up. He thinks that he is a mistake.” In response, Staple states that Elijah has a “notion that superheroes are based on people like him.”
Soon afterward, David and Kevin discover their rooms to be across the hall from each other.
Joseph visits the institution to plea for his father to leave, but Staple says this cannot happen. (It is revealed that his mother and David’s wife Audrey Dunn had died some years ago from “acute lymphoblastic leukemia.”) As he leaves Raven Hill, Casey arrives on a bus. She asks Staple to speak to the Horde. At first, Staple is reluctant due to the fact that Casey is a victim of theirs.
In Kevin’s room, Hedwig tells Casey that Dennis (another personality) had “persuaded Kevin to give up the Light.” He adds that “the Beast will start a revolution and is the highest form” of being. Casey touches Hedwig’s arm and he turns into Kevin Wendell Crumb. Casey tells him that her uncle has been put in jail. As she leaves Raven Hill, Casey and Staple discuss that there may or may not be “something supernatural” to Kevin and that the “true version can heal it.”
In Elijah’s room, Staple tells him that over “one hundred” security cameras have been installed throughout the institution (both inside and out), that “everything is being recorded.” As he is sedated, she speaks of his “perspicacious mind” and that his “frontal lobe [will have to be] worked on.”
Some time passes, and Staple makes her final evaluation on Elijah, Kevin, and David. She puts the three in a room and tells them that they only “think they are superhuman” and that living and/or believing this idea is “not normal.” She tries to convince them that this notion is “something out of a comic book.”
In her analysis, trauma is addressed in regards to Kevin Wendell Crumb’s domestic abuse as well as David Dunn’s pool accident when they were both children.
- Staple shows David his magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and suggests that his “frontal lobe [had been] damaged during the train accident [of Unbreakable].” She asks David about his abilities, which are described as a “touch of intuition [that] gives [him] a vision or moment of sin to see who is good or bad.” Staple likens him to a magician and tries to convince him that all of this is just an illusion. Kevin (as Patricia) applauds the psychiatrist for having “dissected” David.
- Staple then speaks of Kevin and his personalities (as well as the events of Split‘s ending). The cage bars he bent were made when the zoo opened in 1874. The shotgun and ammo that Casey Cooke used on him were also old. She tells him that there was moisture in the boiler room and tries to convince the Horde that “the Beast isn’t as powerful” as they believe.
Casey Cooke is purchasing some comic books at a shop then leaves. At the same time, Joseph Dunn is at the back looking for comics as well, hoping to find something that could help him with his father, Kevin Wendell Crumb, and Elijah Price. He gives up and is about to leave until a section of the shop labeled ‘VILLAINS’ catches his eye. He picks up a comic titled “Whisperman” and leaves.
Joseph does further research on Kevin. He discovers Kevin’s father’s first name is Clarence Wendell Crumb. Another revelation comes to him. Meanwhile, Casey is reading the comics she bought from the comic shop at her new foster home.
At Raven Hill, Pierce hears a noise coming from one of the rooms. He enters Elijah’s and finds a sedated Elijah sitting in a wheelchair. He wonders if he should drop his heavy flashlight onto his lap to break his bones but catches the flashlight at the last second. Pierce’s shift ends and leaves the hospital as Daryl arrives.
Daryl has a lengthy conversation with a security guard regarding health and vitamins before heading inside the building right away. As this happens, Elijah leaves his room to enter the security room. He looks through files on Kevin and David. (Kevin’s mother’s first name is revealed to be Penelope.) Elijah then enters Kevin’s room, where he speaks to Patricia. He revealed he was never really sedated as he has been hiding his pills in his wheelchair’s armrest. He tells her about his love for comic books and would like to meet the Beast. Before leaving the room, one of them says, “Everything extraordinary can be explained.” Patricia asks what the Horde should call him, to which he replies, “First name: ‘Mister.’ Last name: ‘Glass.'”
Daryl sees footage of Elijah leaving his room and exploring the hallways. (At this point, we are given a flashback which shows Elijah child at a carnival. He rides an attraction called “Dark Cyclone,” where his mother finds him and pleads for the ride to stop. His bones break as the ride moves too fast. The employee enters Mister Glass’s room, where Elijah then slits the man’s throat with a broken shard of glass he meticulously chose himself. He tells Daryl, “You don’t know what it’s like to [not know] where you fit [in the world].” Elijah leaves him to die on his bed then breaks Kevin out of his room.
Kevin (as Hedwig) and Elijah enter the surgery room. Hedwig turns into the Beast and tells Elijah that perhaps “the Horde is losing faith.” A building of architectural significance called the Osaka Tower is opening to the public in the city, and Glass tells the Beast he wants him to fight David there to show their abilities to the world for them to learn that superhumans exist. He then asks if the Beast sees himself as an “avenging angel,” to which the twenty-fourth personality of Kevin Wendell Crumb affirms. Glass replies, “Avenge us, partner.” The Beast lets out a feral roar, to which Elijah then says, “That sounds like the bad guys teaming up.”
Mister Glass allows David Dunn to leave his room with ease. He shuts off the water hoses and tells David through the intercom that he wants the Overseer’s full potential to come out. He tells David of his plan to blow up the Osaka Tower which holds chemicals at its third floor.
The next morning, Pierce returns to Raven Hill and sees Daryl dead in Elijah’s room. He enters the Patient Item Storage Room of the hospital. Glass rolls into his view. The Beast is on Pierce’s behind, preventing him from leaving. The Beast demands the caretaker to “kneel [for] the Broken.”
David busts down the metal door of his room. Meanwhile, Elijah and the Horde take an elevator down to the basement. David retrieves his wedding ring and hooded rain poncho from the Storage Room.
Outside the front of the building, Casey arrives in a taxi and confronts Staple about Kevin. Elijah’s mother and Joseph Dunn arrive as well to speak to Staple. In her office, the psychiatrist tells the three that “comic books are an obsession” and that this notion is a “lost perspective.” She tells them of the typical characters in these stories, then tries to convince them that such stories told on the pages of these comics “aren’t valid history.”
Down in the basement, the Beast emerges from one of Kevin’s other personalities then takes down a few security guards as Mister Glass rolls down the hallway of the floor.
Back in Staple’s office, the psychiatrist, Mrs. Price, Joseph, and Casey see the news broadcast and realize Mister Glass’s plan. (This current day is also revealed to be December 7th.) Staple calls a “Code 3” on Raven Hill. She has employees keep the patients away from the windows so they do not observe. Elijah’s mother tells Staple, Joseph, and Casey that this could be what is referred to in comics as “the Showdown [in which superhumans’] skills are pitted against each other.”
Outside the building, the Beast takes down a car of two security guards and puts two female Raven Hill volunteers into a van. Two more guards arrive, and the Beast takes them down. Glass observes his mother, Joseph, Casey, and Staple leaving out the front of the building, to which he refers to as “the collection of main characters.”
David (donning the rain poncho as the Overseer) is spotted on top of the van. He and the Beast brawl. Beast tells the Overseer, “You will learn to kneel for the Broken,” as more armed men arrive. Casey tells the guards not to hurt Kevin because he has “D.I.D.” (or dissociative identity disorder). The Overseer puts four men into a cargo load for their safety while the Beast brutally kills other men. Staple gets Casey to persuade the Beast to go back into the Light and revert into the form of Kevin Wendell Crumb.
Joseph tries to intervene in the fight between the Beast and the Overseer by revealing to them Glass’s ulterior motive: Clarence Wendell Crumb was a victim on the train wreck that David Dunn was in. He was on his way to have his son’s condition treated. Because of his father’s death, Kevin was abused by his mother and the Horde was created, thus creating the Beast as well. The Horde had been made to protect Kevin. Mister Glass argues that he creates superheroes. The Beast turns on him, to which Glass says, “The enemy becomes the ally.”
The Beast pushes the Overseer into a tank of water but the hooded hero eventually breaks out of it. Some of the tank’s water makes its way into a nearby pothole, creating a puddle. The Beast then fatally crushes the bones of Elijah’s torso as more authorities arrive at the scene. Casey approaches the Beast and speaks, “Kevin Wendell Crumb,” reverting the twenty-fourth personality into Kevin, bringing him back to the Light and taking away his superhuman strength and invulnerability. Kevin then is shot in the abdominal region by a sniper.
One of the armed men drags David’s body to the pothole and drowns his head into it. As he dies, Staple holds her hand out for him, revealing she and the armed men are part of a society of people who work behind the scenes. She tells Elijah that comic books have been wrong about societies of supervillains impeding the heroes and that there are secret societies of anti-superhumans that are the true masterminds that take down both heroes and villains.
- As Elijah dies in his mother’s arms, he tells her, “This is not limited edition. This was an origin story the whole time. I wasn’t a mistake, Mama.” In response, her mother says, “No, you were spectacular.”
- As Kevin dies in Casey’s arms, he tells her that the Horde had been trying to “hold the Light until the end.”
- Staple tells a dying David that comic books told of “secret evil groups [of people]” who prevent superhumans from exposing themselves to the world. She says, “There just can’t be gods amongst us.”
She tells the employees of Raven Hill not to speak of the event to anyone.
Sometime after the event, Staple reports to a room full of her secret group’s member of her success in taking down Mister Glass, the Overseer, and the Horde. She tells them that footage of the superhumans’ fight had been erased and, with their approval, she shall move to the next city to continue her work and assures them that their purpose of “maintaining balance [and] keeping order” will remain alive.
Staple walks through a comic book shop as footage of the 1960s’ Batman plays in the background. He overhears two patrons discussing that “there’s always a real plan” in a comic book’s story. She remembers telling Elijah Price that “everything is being recorded.” She returns to Raven Hill’s security room and comes to a revelation: Elijah had escaped through the basement rather than the front entrance of the hospital as a means to tamper with the institution’s security footage and live-stream the fight from a private website. She says that Elijah had been on a “suicide mission” from the start and had never intended to blow up the Osaka Tower. She realizes that she “gave him all the cameras he needed” when security systems were installed throughout Raven Hill. Because of her failure, Staple screams in fear and anger.
The footage is sent out to Joseph Dunn, Casey Cooke, and Mrs. Price. They are urged to leak the footage to the world so that “other [superhuman]s will awaken.” Elijah’s voice is heard, saying that “belief is contagious” and that “we give each other permission to be superheroes.” The three share cups of coffee at a train station as they watch all of Philadelphia receive the footage, which had been sent out “two hours” prior. Mrs. Price tells Joseph and Casey, “This is the moment we are let in on the universe.” The film ends on a hopeful note.
- David Dunn aka the Overseer (played by Bruce Willis)
- A former university football stadium security guard and owner of Dunn Home Security. The sole survivor of a train wreck event that transpired almost two decades ago. He had been convinced by Elijah Price that he has superhuman strength and invulnerability. He also has an extrasensory ability to see people’s committed crimes by touching them, although he has a weakness to water.
- Kevin Wendell Crumb aka the 24 personalities of the Horde (played by James McAvoy)
- An ex-Philadelphia Zoo employee whose body chemistry changes with each personality. His twenty-fourth personality, the Beast, has superhuman strength and invulnerability.
- Elijah Price aka Mister Glass (played by Samuel L. Jackson)
- A highly intelligent mastermind behind the Eastrail 177 train wreck event. His only weakness is his Type I osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease, in which his bones will break upon contact as easy as that of glass. He had been put into confinement after David Dunn discovered his secret.
- Dr. Ellie Staple (played by Sarah Paulson)
- A psychiatrist at Raven Hill who specializes in delusions of grandeur who treats patients believing they are beings with superhuman abilities.
- Joseph Dunn (played by Spencer Treat Clark)
- David’s son who perceives his father as a bona fide superhero and believed so since he was a child.
- Casey Cooke (played by Anya Taylor-Joy)
- A teenage girl with a history of self-harm due to abuse from her uncle (her father’s brother), who was sent to jail shortly after the events of Split, in which she had been a victim and sacrifice of the Horde but was set free by the Beast after seeing she had “suffered and is therefore pure.”
- Mrs. Price (played by Charlayne Woodard)
- Elijah Price’s mother who took care of her son, assuring him he is special no matter what other people told him.
- Jai (a cameo by M. Night Shyamalan)
- A security guard from Dr. Fletcher’s building in Split. (Dr. Karen Fletcher is the Horde’s psychologist.) Jai is also the same man whom David confronted about drug dealing at Philadelphia’s university stadium during the events of Unbreakable. In Glass, Jai is purchasing a new security system from Joseph Dunn from the father and son’s store, Dunn Home Security.
M. Night Shyamalan’s Glass is a brilliant film that (as the filmmaker’s movies usually do) challenges the thought processes of fans of his work as well as moviegoers worldwide. As the third film in the Eastrail 177 film series, it is arguably a rather magnificent end to something he had started since 2000. Most of his projects have one plot twist, whereas this, however, had three.
- The revelation about Kevin Wendell Crumb’s father and the creation of the Horde.
- The revelation about Ellie Staple.
- The revelation regarding the footage of the film’s third act.
The typical moviegoer would be confused by the film had they not paid attention to Unbreakable and Split. Shyamalan weaves details of these movies with that of comic book concepts and ideologies well into this one in such a way that no one could ever think this could work the way it had. For example, comic book film adaptations of modern cinema convey the cliche of how the third act always has the heroes fighting the villains atop a rooftop of a skyscraper or a landmark above the earth and leaves behind dust, decay, and destruction. With Glass, this is found to be rather grounded and instead has this “final showdown” occur just outside the mental institution. The film is good for the most part, but its ending had fans debating whether this is a satisfactory one.
One laudable aspect of Glass is the filmmaker’s use of unseen footage from Unbreakable. Impressive that we can have some development of David Dunn in the form of a flashback that would have been told as a then-present day scene.
One element found unusual and peculiar is the final scene in which the fight’s footage is leaked to the public. This does not seem too believable as there should at least some people who would care less about superhumans existing around them. The civilians’ reactions aren’t that convincing, and the hope of a new world after the death of the film’s primary characters is reminiscent of the Wachowskis’ Matrix trilogy, which ended on a similarly hopeful note following the death of the films’ main hero, Neo. Then again, the existence of social media and the instance exchange of news and information can pretty much accomplish this feat depending on the severity of what the public views.
Could this trilogy expand itself with the release of a fourth film? Perhaps not. It seems Shyamalan did all he could as Mister Glass undermined Ellie Staple and her organization with their attempts to foil his supposed plans. The Illuminati-esque society’s ruse backfired, and this fictionalized world now knows what does exist.
On a budget of $20 million, we cannot expect something too special. The placement of the Osaka Tower can be both a pretty sight and a horrendous one, but it is great that the filmmaker ended the film where it started: Raven Hill. Aside from its financial aspect, M. Night Shyamalan directed, produced, wrote, and briefly starred in this film, and we should commend him for the effort he put into this.
With a film by Shyamalan, people would expect themselves to hate Glass while others hope to love it, but let’s not forget people have done this with Unbreakable. Simply put: People do not like what they are not familiarized with and they are averse to the strange and unusual. Shyamalan brought something new to the table that is not quite like any other superhero film. His use of the hero, the villain, and the outer forces of power have been brought to life wonderfully. Where Elijah Price teaches us that nobody was born a mistake, his mother continues to remind us that we are all special. We are also reminded by Ellie Staple that we are all be watched and recorded, whether it be our phones, computers, or other forms of surveillance. Perhaps Shyamalan is teaching is that higher hidden forces are keeping us from reaching our full potential.
For that, Glass gets a rating of 7.5 out of 10.
Which moment of this film was your favorite? Was the ending to your liking? What did you think of the film overall? Let us know! Check out Glass today while it is still fresh in theaters. For more superhero and comic book related news and reviews, follow Geek Motivation on Twitter (@GeekMotivation) and Instagram (@geekmotivation).
Written by: John Daniel Tangalin