With so many studios clamoring to conjure their own cinematic universes out of thin air, M. Night Shyamalan has managed to craft something wholly unique.
First, we must mention that’s it’s impossible to talk about Shyamalan’s movies without mentioning spoilers, so tread lightly. At the end of his hit horror movie Split, we learn it’s set in the same world as the director’s unconventional superhero origin story Unbreakable, which was released 16 years prior. Without going into specifics, Bruce Willis’ David Dunn was positioned as the hero, James McAvoy’s The Horde was set up as the villain, and the stage was set for an epic clash between the two in a third film that would unify Unbreakable and Split.
Unlike other cinematic universes, whose installments are carefully mapped out in advance—Marvel announced the first Avengers movie immediately after the success of Iron Man in 2008—Shyamalan’s developed organically. In fact, a third film featuring these specific characters wasn’t even in the works when Split was released. But that film’s eye-popping success at the box office left Universal no choice. After announcing that he finished the script in April, Glass will officially begin shooting next month with a January 18, 2019 release date. We should note that January is traditionally the dumping ground for movies the studios consider to be real dogs, so this is something of an inauspicious start.
What Shyamalan has accomplished is no small feat. Keep in mind, this is the same man who was once anointed the next Spielberg by Time magazine, and then found himself directing The Last Airbender. Now he’s at the helm of his very own cinematic universe, one that has the potential to extend far beyond a third film. Why? Because unlike say, Warner Brothers—who was so desperate for an Avengers counterpunch that it shoehorned a minute-long scene into Batman v. Superman introducing us to three separate superheroes—Shyamalan practiced one of the rarest commodities in today’s Hollywood: patience.
His route was more in line with the one Marvel took to build its own sprawling universe. Before combining its heroes, Marvel gave them each their own standalone film in order to build audience investment in the characters. Willis’ hooded hero and Samuel Jackson’s villainous Mr. Glass have lived with us for nearly two decades, while Anya Taylor-Joy’s Casey Cooke emerged as one of last year’s most compelling heroines.
In Glass, all four characters will unite in a movie that’s been twenty years in the making; the unique vision of a single auteur as opposed to a disparate team of creators trying to fit round pegs into square holes. Frankly, we can’t wait.