This Glass article contains MAJOR SPOILERS.
Glass has arrived and with it comes the resolution to a 19-year-old story, bringing to a close auteur M. Night Shyamalan‘s epic on the birth, life, and death of superheroes. Most importantly, Glass answers many of our most burning questions about the saga’s main characters: What did David Dunn (Bruce Willis) do with his newfound power after the credits rolled in Unbreakable? Where did Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) spend his days after that shocking twist? Did Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), now free of the Beast, rid herself of her evil uncle and live happily ever after? Did Kevin (James McAvoy) ever get the light back?
There’s plenty to unpack in the final chapter of Shyamalan’s Eastrail 177 Trilogy, including plenty of easter eggs and callbacks to Unbreakable and Split, as well as the world of comic books. We’ve watched the movie and made a list of everything we found during the first sitting. If we missed anything, just tweet at John or leave a comment below.
Alright, here we go:
Unbreakable and Split Easter Eggs
– Several of Kevin’s 23 alternate personalities appear in the movie, notably the creepy Dennis, the dim-witted Hedwig, and the sophisticated Miss Patricia. But we also get to see the diabetic Jade, who is now working with Kevin’s villainous personalities, as well as Orwell, Barry, and Jelin.
– When Kevin is in Beast form and shirtless, you can see the scars of where Casey shot him with the shotgun in Split.
– Hedwig repeatedly mentions that Casey kissed him and is his girlfriend. Casey kissed him in Split to earn his trust so that she could trick him into helping her escape.
– Surprisingly, Dennis, one of the creepiest of Kevin’s alts, is remorseful toward the end of the movie and hesitant to go help Mr. Glass blow up a skyscraper. In Split, Dennis is one of the most gung-ho about being evil and is clearly sexually attracted to the teens he’s kidnapped for the Horde.
– Dr. Staple finds a note in Kevin’s file that says, “Say his name: Kevin Wendell Crumb,” written in alarmingly shaky handwriting. This is the note Dr. Fletcher leaves for Casey before her death in Split.
– Speaking of Dr. Fletcher, M. Night Shyamalan’s character, the security guard Jai, visits David’s home security store to buy a new surveillance camera. While there, he references his poor tenant’s death “off-site” as the reason for buying the camera.
– You’ll be delighted to know that Jai is actually the same character David interrogated at the football stadium in Unbreakable after his powers allowed him to see that the man was a drug dealer. “I used to run with a bad crowd,” Jai tells David in Glass, thrilled to be able to see the ex-security guard again and show him how he’s turned his life around. This is perhaps the best bit of continuity in the entire movie.
– Casey still wears the Philadelphia Zoo jacket given to her by the man who found her locked in the cage in the maintenance tunnels.
– Joseph watches someone weightlifting to the amusement of a group of kids. This is a callback to little Joseph watching his dad lift 350 pounds of weights in Unbreakable.
– The comic book shop dude from Unbreakable returns in Glass and he’s still frustrated about people masturbating in the back of the store. This time, he warns someone that they better not be jerking off “to Hello Kitty” as opposed to the “Japanese comics.” Why are comic book lovers in Philly so sketchy in this universe?
– The signs inside the comic book shop signifying books starring heroes and villains are green and purple, respectively. This is obviously meant to represent David (the hero) and Elijah (the villain).
– The anchor presenting the news on TV is the same one reporting Casey’s kidnapping in Split.
– When Elijah kills the orderly Daryl, he explains his rationalization with the exact same lines he told David when the latter learned of his homicidal tendencies in Unbreakable. “Not knowing why you’re here is a terrible feeling.”
– Things come full circle for David when he meets his demise at the end of the movie. David is scarred by the memory of almost drowning in a pool when he was in elementary school. It’s only fitting that he ends up drowning in a puddle, larger than life as a superhero but still too weak to deal with runoff.
– The movie ends where this entire saga began: a train station in Philadelphia, the same one where Elijah planted the bomb that created both the Overseer and the Horde. And the same one that David and Kevin’s father never reached on their fateful train ride, yet their heirs carry on their memory at today.
– There’s a bit of meta-commentary about the movie as Elijah dies in his mother’s arms. Elijah says this movie is, in fact, an “origin story” and not a “limited edition.” This teases the twist ending of the movie when Dr. Staple discovers that Elijah recorded and leaked the footage of the events outside of the mental institution.
Mrs. Price actually makes a similar remark to little Elijah in Unbreakable when she’s describing a comic in a flashback. She says, “I heard this one has a surprise ending.” This line actually teases the ending of Unbreakable where it’s revealed that Elijah has been the real villain of the movie the entire time.
DC and Marvel Easter Eggs
– One of the most obvious connections between Glass and the world of comics is the way each mutant has a weakness. Like Superman and Kryptonite, David, Elijah, and Kevin all have weaknesses that can be exploited by their enemies. David is incapacitated by water, Elijah has a disease that causes his bones to break easily, and Kevin snaps out of his Beast persona when someone says his full name, “Kevin Wendell Crumb.”
– David, Elijah, and Kevin all represent a color in the movie. David wears green, Elijah wears purple, and Kevin wears yellow. This is a callback to the distinct color palettes of superheroes in the comics. Superman is always blue and red, Batman is always black and gray, Green Lantern is green and black, and so on.
– Each mutant also has a “family” member that cares for him. In David’s case, it’s Joseph. Elijah has his mother. Strangely, Casey is there for Kevin, even though he’d tried to eat her just two years before (although Anya Taylor-Joy has a poignant explanation as to why). In the comics, Batman has Alfred and Robin, Superman has Lois Lane and, depending on the continuity, his parents.
– Interestingly enough, Joseph doesn’t fulfill the typical role of sidekick for his superpowered dad. Instead, he’s more like Oracle–someone who watches over the hero from HQ.
– David and Elijah’s connection as hero and villain is notable for the fact that the latter actually created the former. By planting the bomb on David’s train, Elijah activates whatever powers the security guard had hidden away inside him. As Elijah points out, he is the one responsible for the superhero’s creation.
This isn’t the first time a villain has he created the superhero he’s destined to fight forever. Here’s an example of what we’re talking about: in Batman ’89 continuity, Jack Napier murdered Bruce Wayne’s parents, thus creating Batman.
– Elijah also pointed out to David in Unbreakable that superheroes and their arch-enemies tended to be friends before enemies. This was another twist in that film’s relationship and mirrors Peter Parker and Harry Osborn, or Charles Xavier and Erik Lehnsherr from X-Men mythology. Amusingly, McAvoy has since played Xavier several times, including in this year’s Dark Phoenix.
– The Horde’s transformation into the Beast is pretty obviously a nod to the Incredible Hulk. Mild-mannered scientist Dr. Bruce Banner transforms into the green beast when he gets angry, but it’s more of a process for the Horde, almost like a ritual.
– While researching the Horde, Casey picks up a reprint of the very first issue of Action Comics, the book that introduced Superman to the world. She later references the Man of Steel during her plea to Dr. Staple to accept that Kevin might actually have powers. Casey says something along the lines of “The first Superman couldn’t fly,” suggesting that Kevin, David, and Elijah are just the first step in a whole new human evolution. She also says he was originally from New York, not the fictional city Metropolis. This is also true.
– Even though it’s definitely horrific, you have to kinda giggle at Mr. Glass’ (fake) plan to blow up Osaka Tower. After all, blowing things up is the only plan he ever really has in Unbreakable. Before he meets David Dunn, he blows up a plane, burns down a building, and detonates a bomb on a train. It’s the same plan each time, basically.
This, of course, is very reminiscent of the most famous supervillains in comics. The Joker, the Riddler, Dr. Doom, Darkseid, Thanos… they always sort of have the same plan. The Joker, for example, usually unleashes his laughing gas on Gotham or poisons the water supply with laughing gas or infects the fish with laughing poison or… you get it. The Riddler always kinda wants to get caught, which is why he always leaves riddles at all his crime scenes. To quote your boy Hedwig, “etcetera etcetera.”
Villains also have an affinity for taking the fight to the heroes in front of really public places, such as city hall. Mr. Glass hopes that his pretend trip to Osaka Tower will grab the eye of the public.
– The mental institution where David, Elijah, and Kevin are held for most of the movie might remind some of you of Arkham Asylum, where the most deranged villains go in the Batman mythos. While this institution isn’t quite as dark and grim as Arkham, it does fit the bill when it comes to making patients question reality. It’s a haunting place.
– Speaking of Osaka Tower, when the anchor is describing the building, he calls it a real “marvel.” Wink wink.
– There are plenty of comics on display during the film’s trips to the local comic shop, but some of the most prominent include issues of Doctor Strange and Thor. Shyamalan seems to have real love for Marvel characters. Taylor-Joy, again in our interview, tells us of a take that was ruined when she ran into a statue of Magik, her character from the upcoming New Mutants.
– But don’t worry, DC gets some love at the comic book store too! At one point, as Dr. Staple walks through the shop at the end of the movie, you can and hear the old 1960s Batman TV series playing in the background. What’s a loving tribute to the long history of comics without a little Adam West, after all?
– Elijah describes the movie as an “origin story,” a vital bit of storytelling in superhero comics. Basically, every major superhero has one.
– The anti-mutant secret society Dr. Staple works for is reminiscent of an organization from ’90s X-Men comics called Friends of Humanity, which was known for its bigotry towards mutants and its plots to destroy these superpowered humans once and for all. The X-Men also dealt with (mutant) secret societies like the Hellfire Club. But the extermination of mutants in comics goes even further back, including X-Men storylines such as “Days of Future Past,” which depicts an alternate future (back in the ’80s) where most mutants have either been killed or put in internment camps. Luckily, nothing as bad as that happens to Overseer, Mr. Glass, or the Horde.