Superhero movies are hot property right now, and they will be for the foreseeable future as well. No living soul in the current time can deny that, and numerous superhero movies from the comic book giants DC and Marvel coming out by the dozens every year will ensure that. Not just movies, superheroes and the accompanying mania have effectively taken over our television slots, our merchandise spots, even the social media, and in the process, have established themselves as a full-fledged genre of films in themselves.
Amidst the current clutter of superhero cinema that we have, I wonder how a film like ‘Unbreakable’ would do. M. Night Shyamalan’s seminal piece of superhero fiction, ‘Unbreakable’, is a completely original product that spawned a franchise of its own, deconstructed the genre and the hype behind it, effectively exploring the very genesis of what makes a superhero. There is a reason that till date, the film is counted as a frontrunner when it comes to listing the best superhero movies ever made, even though it is unlike any other superhero movie that you may have seen. It’s a definite slow burn, takes time to set things up, but in the process, raises some important pointers about the genre and its commonalities and tropes as well, while at the same time appealing to the inherent superhero fan in you.
The way the film puts a twist on everything that you know and love about superhero films is, for the lack of a better word, unprecedented, and though this writeup is one too many years late, I sincerely hope that reading it can certainly add to the experience of it. In conjunction with that, if you have seen ‘Split’ and ‘Glass’, among the unlikeliest sequels ever made, you are in for a good read because I will be drawing parallels to these later films somewhere in the writeup. Read on.
“You know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world. To not know why you’re here. That’s just an awful feeling. I almost gave up hope. There were so many times I questioned myself. But I found you. So many sacrifices, just to find you.Now that we know who you are, I know who I am. I’m not a mistake! It all makes sense! In a comic, you know how you can tell who the arch-villain’s going to be? He’s the exact opposite of the hero. And most times they’re friends, like you and me! I should’ve known way back when. You know why, David? Because of the kids. They called me Mr Glass.”
In my opinion, this is quite simply one of the most iconic endings of its decade. Not the best twist ending I agree, especially when you consider something like ‘The Sixth Sense’, the other Shyamalan directorial that redefined the term twist ending for 21st century audiences, but certainly quite iconic, especially the last part, wherein Elijah Price introduces himself with his now famous moniker, Mr. Glass. The meaning of it too is quite clear. Right after discovering his powers and confessing to his son that he was right about his superpowers, he visits Limited Edition, Elijah’s comic book art gallery, wherein he indulges in a conversation with Elijah’s mother about villains, their kinds and their dichotomous relationship with the hero.
Thereafter, David confronts Elijah at the back of the store when the former urges that he shake his hand. It would be worth noting that Mr. Glass actually wishes to confess, since he is aware of David’s extrasensory abilities, and knew that his truth would be out the moment David touched him for a handshake, which would also explain his rather sinister and unperturbed reaction later upon the revelation.