Like most sensible people, I’d completely written off M. Night Shyamalan. After all, the guy made Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth back-to-back – and those are four stone-cold cinematic stinkers. It got to the point where he’d announce a new project and my instinctive reaction would be “who the hell is giving this guy money?” So, it took me a lot of convincing to watch 2016’s Split.
I finally did, though, and despite being a very silly movie, it’s actually pretty awesome, largely thanks to James McAvoy throwing everything including the kitchen sink into his performance as a serial killer with multiple personality syndrome. The cherry on top was the post-credits revelation that Split had been a stealth sequel to 2000’s Unbreakable all along – my favorite Shyamalan film to date.
Now, this nascent cinematic universe is set to be explored further in Glass, in which Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson’s characters from Unbreakable and McAvoy’s Split character are thrown into the mix together. But could it also be the start of a continuing universe of movies? Well, in a recent interview with EW, here’s what McAvoy teased:
“I can’t speak for Night… I would like there to be more, I think there’s definitely the potential for more in terms of the roles that he’s created and the rationalization for what a superhero or villain is. There’s definitely room for more. But in terms of whether he would feel as fresh, I don’t know.”
Shyamalan, meanwhile, was a little more circumspect, saying:
“How about I avoid that question altogether? There’s no good answer to it,” said Shyamalan. “I mean, look, I have two new ideas for movies, so I want to write those. Glass is the only movie I’ve ever done that’s related to another movie I’ve ever done. So, it’s not a habit of mine. I like making up new things, and trying new colors, so that’s probably the best answer. Where my sweet spot is, is thinking of a new kind of story each time and trying to make it as best I can, and seeing if it connects with the audience at that time.”
I always thought Unbreakable was a bit ahead of its time. After all, it successfully deconstructed the superhero genre mere months after the original X-Men hit cinemas. Arguably its grounded examination of what a real superhero might be is more relevant to modern cinema than it was to what was going on in the early 2000s.
Plus, it’s just a nice novelty to see a superhero franchise that’s not based on a pre-existing property, giving Shyamalan far more freedom to do what he wants with his characters. Where he takes them next remains to be seen, but we’ll find out when Glass smashes into cinemas on January 18th, 2019.