[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/unbreakable.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:''"Real life doesn't fit into little boxes that were drawn for it."'']]

->''“Do you know what the scariest thing is? To not know your place in this world. To not know why you’re here. That’s... that’s just an awful feeling.”''
-->— '''Elijah Price'''

''Unbreakable'' is a 2000 PsychologicalThriller that is also a {{Deconstruction}} of the SuperHero genre. Directed and written by Creator/MNightShyamalan, the film stars Creator/BruceWillis as security guard David Dunn and Creator/SamuelLJackson as comic book art gallery owner Elijah Price.

''Unbreakable'' begins with the birth of Elijah, whose mother discovers that he was born with broken arms and legs due to ''osteogenesis imperfecta'', which makes his bones as fragile as glass. The film then jumps to the present day where David, on his way home to UsefulNotes/{{Philadelphia}} from UsefulNotes/NewYorkCity, ends up in a horrific train crash that kills everyone but him — and David himself is perfectly healthy and unharmed.

Elijah — now a respected owner of a comic book art gallery — contacts David with a letter asking a simple question: [[ArmorPiercingQuestion “How many days in your life have you been sick?”]] David is caught off guard and starts thinking back on his entire life, even consulting his wife Audrey, and he cannot remember taking one sick day, having a single headache, or getting bruised. David makes contact with Elijah in return, who offers a very dramatic possible answer. If he, Elijah, is on one end of the spectrum by being so frail and brittle, then the existence of someone who is on the other end of the spectrum, having superhuman durability, must balance the equation — and he believes David to be this person. He bases this conclusion on his love of comic books, and believing that ‘super’ humans exist but are dismissed because of the commercialization of superheroes.

David doubts he’s a RealLife superhero, but the possibility leads to some deep self-examination. In addition to being (allegedly) MadeOfIron, David also seems to have a subconscious ability to ‘read’ people and know the evil things they have done… or are about to do. He begins to wonder whether it’s possible that he’s never been hurt in his life or if it’s all coincidence and selective memory, and whether his alleged extrasensory powers are all just in his imagination. David starts considering how the theory, if true, could affect his purpose in life and his family’s failing happiness, especially after being the lone survivor of a train crash, both of which have already caused him deep depression. After all of that, David has to ask himself the most important question: is it worth the risk he’ll take to discover the truth?

A sequel, ''Glass'', will be released in 2019, with Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson returning as their respective characters.

''Unbreakable'' has [[TwistEnding a hell of an ending]], and it’s pretty much the only ending to a Shyamalan film that ''hasn’t'' become an ‘ItWasHisSled’ ending. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, '''avert your eyes from the spoilers below''' and see it for yourself.

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!!This film provide examples of:

* FiveFiveFive: The film opens with a train crash; the number to call for family members to check on survivors is 800-767-1482. Originally this number went to a recording telling people it was reserved for use as a placeholder number for use in movies and tv shows, but has since become used by a fake survey allegedly offering "free" boat cruises.
* AchillesHeel: At first, Elijah is confused to learn that David is capable of drowning just like anyone else, [[spoiler:until he remembers that every superhero needs a specific weakness.]]
* AdultFear:
** The scene when David’s son [[spoiler:finds and loads his gun]]. Dear ''God''.
** In a deleted scene, young Elijah has a disastrous ride on a carnival attraction. [[GoryDiscretionShot The audience doesn't see the injuries]] because the camera is positioned from a child-Elijah’s perspective, but we do get to see the face of his terrified mother as she looks down at his completely shattered body on the floor of a carnival ride.
** The opening scene has Elijah's mother having just recently given birth and beaming with her child, and just appears mildly confused over how long the baby has been crying. The doctor then reveals her baby's arms and legs were broken in the delivery. The entire room is in shock.
* AffablyEvil: [[spoiler:Elijah.]]
* AlliterativeName: David Dunn, quite fittingly.
* AloneWithThePsycho: David encounters a family that has been helpless in the hands of a psychopath for days when he invaded their home, killed the father and tyrannized the wife and children.
* AnimationAgeGhetto: In-universe. Elijah refuses to sell a rare piece of comic book art to a father who is only looking for a gift for his four-year-old son, rather than someone who would appreciate the work of art.
* AppropriatedAppellation: [[spoiler:Elijah takes his childhood nickname of “Mr. Glass” as his supervillain name. He lampshades this when he reveals it to David.]]
* AscendedFanboy: Elijah. He used to read tons of comics in his lonely childhood, [[spoiler:and became what is essentially a real-world supervillain]].
* AuthorAppeal: It was Creator/SamuelLJackson (himself a [[OneOfUs major comic book geek]]) who suggested that [[PurpleIsPowerful purple be the theme color for Elijah]]. This is because purple is Jackson’s favorite color, and it is a color often associated with famous comic book supervillians (The Joker, Lex Luthor, and the Green Goblin, just to name a few). [[spoiler:A rather big clue as to who Elijah really is]].
* AxCrazy: The Orange Man is a complete and utter lunatic, who broke into a house, killed the adults and was about to kill the children before David takes him down.
* BadassBystander: [[spoiler:David rescues the two kids and tells them to stay low and quiet while he checks the rest of the house. After David falls into the pool and tangled up in the tarp, they rescue him by reaching a pole in so he could grab on and pull him to the edge.]]
* BadassCape: Played with. [[spoiler:It’s a rain poncho, not a cape, but it undeniably makes David look more badass during his first foray into superheroism.]]
* BaldOfAwesome: When Bruce Willis isn’t asked to don a hairpiece, you know you’re in for something good.
* BerserkButton: Don’t ''ever'' suggest to Elijah that comic books are just for kids.
* BigBadFriend: [[spoiler:Elijah is the BigBad of the film, which he reveals only when he and David are starting to become friends near the end. After becoming intrigued by the comics his mother gave him, he becomes obsessed with the hero/villian archetypes presented in the stories. Over the years, he engineers mass disasters that kill hundreds of people to find his antithesis, a real hero. He manipulates David over the course of the film to fill this archetype not to save people, but to find meaning in his own life.]]
* BittersweetEnding: [[spoiler:David is a superhero now… but his friend and mentor Elijah is actually his fated archnemesis and committed to a mental institution. To make it even ''more'' bittersweet, Elijah is ''happy'' about this outcome, as he finally knows where he belongs in life.]]
* BlackAndNerdy: Elijah grew up with comic books, because his frailty forced him to find a non-physical hobby.
* TheCape: [[spoiler:David is very much this type of superhero. He even dons a rain poncho that [[SuperheroesWearCapes looks somewhat like a cape]]]]. Underlined by a shot near the end of the film, [[spoiler:when David comes home after saving the two girls; he hangs his guard’s poncho up and the camera lingers on the word SECURITY on the back]].
* CareerEndingInjury: Subverted. David’s football career was ended ''in'' a car accident, but not ''by'' it, as he faked a leg injury because his [[CareerVersusMan career was incompatible with his love for Audrey]].
* CheapCostume: A humble poncho. David still manages to make it look good, though, especially in the newspaper artist’s recreation.
* ClarkKenting:
** Subverted; David has been unknowingly doing this his entire life, unaware of his true nature as TheHero.
** Played straight at the end, though; only Elijah and Joseph are aware of his secret as he accepts his destiny.
* ColorCodedCharacters: A deliberate addition to the style of the film. Like comic book characters, many of the people David encounters sport a ColorMotif. David’s is green. Elijah’s is purple. The janitor is orange. And, like ''Film/TheSixthSense'', red has major symbolic importance in the train station. In addition, whenever David senses someone has done or is planning to do something wrong, they are wearing bright colors or some other distinctive clothing that makes them stand out from the crowd. The wardrobe department played to this by having each character dress in more muted colored versions of their outfits initially, with the colors becoming more vivid as their heroic/villainous aspects became more apparent.
* ComboPlatterPowers: [[spoiler:David has superhuman strength, is at least MadeOfIron, and can also see a person’s evil deeds by touching them.]]
* ComesGreatResponsibility: Embraced by David, who [[spoiler:after he ended his sports career to be with Audrey, he started working as a security guard]] because he feels an urge to help and protect people.
* ConversationalTroping:
** Elijah talks about the LanternJawOfJustice and other stylistic traits and conventions.
** At the end, David and Elijah’s mother talk about VillainTropes at Elijah’s art gallery. She says that Elijah believes there are two main types of villains. There’s the [[TheDragon soldier villain]], who fights the hero with his hands, and then there’s the brilliant, evil ArchEnemy, the really dangerous one, who fights the hero with his mind. [[spoiler:Elijah is revealed to be the latter.]]
** During the scene where Elijah sells one of his comic art pieces, he explains [[spoiler:how the character has been made to look like a villain, by giving him dark skin and large eyes, both of which fit Elijah]].
* CreateYourOwnHero: Elijah [[spoiler:engineers disasters that kill hundreds of people in order to find a real-life superhero, then convinces him to follow [[CallToAdventure the call]]]].
* CreateYourOwnVillain: Elijah, [[spoiler:as he strives to locate his antithesis, purposefully creates himself as the supervillian Mr. Glass, by becoming a mass-murdering criminal mastermind who felt the deaths of innocent people was worth it to finally know his role in life. ]]
* CreatorCameo: M. Night Shyamalan plays a drug dealer.
* CrisisOfFaith: In a DeletedScene, David has a conversation with a priest who is distraught and doubting his faith in God after losing his nephew in the train crash. This exacerbates David’s SurvivorsGuilt.
* DateRape: A man David passes in the train station is shown to have done this to an unconscious woman at a party.
* DeadSparks: David and Audrey’s marriage.
* {{Deconstruction}}: This shows us a very dark version of the idea of a superhero, and of someone being GenreSavvy.
* DespairEventHorizon: Elijah and his mother spent most of Elijah’s life trying to avert this. Elijah’s goal to discover a superhero is in order to prove to himself that he’s not a ‘mistake’ and that he was born for a reason. [[spoiler:But he’ll accept ''[[CreateYourOwnVillain any]]'' reason for existing.]]
* DetectEvil: David has a variation of this. Whenever he touches someone, he gets a glimpse of the most evil thing this person has done recently.
* DisappearedDad: Going by flashback scenes to his childhood, Elijah seems to have one.
* DivorceIsTemporary: David and Audrey are not divorced, but are sleeping apart, and David is looking to move out. David surviving the train crash motivates Audrey to not give up on their relationship, and try starting over.
* DontTryThisAtHomeKids: In the weightlifting scene, David specifically tells his son that what he’s about to do is very dangerous and he shouldn’t try it.
* TheEndingChangesEverything: And we do mean ''[[TwistEnding every]][[WhamEpisode thing]]''. [[spoiler:The revelation that Elijah caused not only the train wreck, but multiple other such disasters to find someone like David, casts everything he says and does in a much more sinister light.]]
* EvilFormerFriend: It’s a plot point, and the last spoken sentences in the film are said evil former friend specifically talking about it as a trope in fiction.
* ExactWords:
** When David tells Elijah that Joseph considered trying to shoot him to prove that he cannot be harmed, Elijah points out that he never said he couldn’t be killed.
** Audrey asks David if he’s cheated on her since they started having marital problems. He says, honestly, that he hasn’t, although certainly not for lack of trying.
* {{Flashback}}: It's mentioned several times that David and Audrey were in a bad car accident in college, which factors into several plot points, including David supposedly being hurt (disproven the "unbreakable" claim) and if he stayed playing football, him and Audrey would not have married. Right before the climax, David inspects the wrecked train cars from the beginning of the film and flashes back to his car accident and what really happened.
* {{Foil}}: Explored as a concept.
* {{Foreshadowing}}:
** Most notably, every establishing shot of Elijah through his life being framed in a glass object (mirror, television, picture display panel) and his mother noting, “They say this one has a surprise endin’!” Details like this make the movie equally entertaining during repeat viewings.
** His mother’s remark that whatever {{God}} has planned for him will happen seems to portent [[spoiler:Elijah’s apparently inescapable destiny as a supervillain]].
** When Elijah is trying to sell a comic picture, [[spoiler:his description of a typical supervillain describes himself]].
** [[spoiler:The morning after David rescues the family]], Audrey mentions that they should make it a family rule if they see Elijah again, they call the police. David looks hesitant but agrees anyway. [[spoiler:The next time David sees him, he discovers Elijah was responsible for a number of mass deaths incidents, and the subtitles indicate David led the police to him]].
* FromNobodyToNightmare: [[spoiler:Elijah was a perpetually [[IllGirl Ill Boy]] who wanted superheroes to be real so badly, he decided to become a supervillain.]]
* GeniusCripple: Elijah. [[spoiler:[[EvilCripple Which is not a very good thing.]]]]
* GenreBusting: It's a psychological thriller meets family melodrama meets SuperHeroOrigin.
* GenreDeconstruction: Deconstructed the ‘Real-world Superhero’ long before that trope became popular.
* GenreSavvy: Elijah. [[spoiler:And his obsession with the hero/villian genres of comic books led him to engineer the deaths of hundreds of people.]]
* HeroicBystander: [[spoiler:The two kids who David rescues near the end of the film end up saving him from drowning.]] Definitely a crowner.
* TheHerosJourney [[spoiler:[[ProtagonistJourneyToVillain to Villain]]]]: Deconstructed. It doesn’t help that [[spoiler:the villain Elijah knows his mythology and the Campbellian elements well enough to manipulate David into accepting the CallToAdventure.]]
* IdealIllnessImmunity: One of the factors that make David realize that he is superhuman is the fact that he's never gotten sick or taken a day off from work.
* IDidWhatIHadToDo: [[spoiler:Elijah feels this way about engineering the deaths of hundreds of people.]]
* IJustWantToBeNormal: David until he accepts [[CallToAdventure the calling]].
* IJustWantToBeSpecial: Elijah has this bad. Mostly due to his medical condition.
* INeverToldYouMyName: Elijah reveals to his care worker that he knows David by asking, by name, how her husband was injured in a car wreck.
* ImmuneToBullets: PlayedForDrama when David’s son threatens to prove Elijah’s theory while pointing a gun at David. [[spoiler:Ultimately a Subversion, since David manages to talk him out of it and we never learn what would have happened if David got shot.]]
* IndecisiveMedium: With references to ComicBook visuals, by positioning the characters in door frames, and such.
* InfantImmortality:
** In a deleted scene, David asks a bishop about the crash, how he can be fine when his watch was crushed as if hit by a sledgehammer. The bishop then averts this trope by revealing angrily that the child on the train in front of David was his grandnephew.
** Also averted with Elijah, who spends most of his childhood cooped up, since he knows this doesn’t apply to him.
* ItsAllAboutMe: While it was important for Elijah to find a [[TheHero Hero]], his motivation was not for improving the world, but for the selfish reason of knowing his own place in the world.
* JadedWashout: Played with. David was TheAce in his college days and is now holding to a humble job and a crumbling family. The movie heavily implies that David's shabby life is because he has been [[RefusalOfTheCall ignorant of his true calling for so long.]]
* KryptoniteFactor: [[DiscussedTrope Explicitly acknowledged]] in the film, as every hero has some weakness. Shyamalan uses water as a weakness for the main superhero. In this case, though, it wasn’t that he was especially vulnerable to water, but rather he was just as susceptible to drowning as a normal person — though it was theorized that the dense bone and muscle that made him ''unbreakable'' also made him ''unfloatable'' and so was at a higher risk for drowning. It was also a [[WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes psychological weakness]], as he had almost drowned once as a child (probably due to the aforementioned bone density), an event so traumatic he blocked it from his memory but left him with a phobia around water, even if he couldn’t remember why.
* LanternJawOfJustice: When showing off a piece of comic book art to a prospective client, Elijah explains how the square jaw is common to superheroes, while supervillains have more pointed facial features. Later, [[spoiler:a sketch artist’s rendering of the the hero who saved the kids (David) is given a jawline to rival ComicStrip/DickTracy]].
* LawOfConservationOfDetail: Here, as in most of his early films, Shyamalan intricately controls almost every line of dialogue to have some significance. Listen carefully to the first scene between David and a fellow passenger: it all feels very natural, but reveals many current and future story elements.
* MadeOfIron: David discovers that he is highly durable when he’s involved in a train crash and comes out unharmed without a scratch on him. His durability is shown to have limits, for although he sustained no serious harm from the crash, it did knock him out for a while, since he woke up in the hospital. It is also revealed that he nearly drowned as a child. It's unconfirmed how he would respond to a gunshot, since he successfully talks his son into giving up the gun, and even Elijah points out that he never said David couldn't be killed. As a deconstruction, this ability leads to David having a serious case of SurvivorsGuilt as he is the only one to walk away from the train crash unharmed when so many others died.
* MadeOfPlasticine: Played straight with Elijah due to his osteogenesis imperfecta.
* MeaningfulRename: [[spoiler:Elijah dubs himself “Mister Glass,” a name his peers had called him when they were kids due to his condition.]] It’s a stark contrast to David, who pretty much assumes the name of the film with his ‘power.’
* MetaCasting: [[Film/DieHard John McClane]] is Unbreakable, who knew?
* MyDadCanBeatUpYourDad: Made especially ironic/funny when Potter says this to Joseph, who turns away so Potter won’t see his smirk because he knows what his dad can do.
* NotSoStoic: Elijah, and by extension, Creator/SamuelLJackson to anyone familiar with his other movies and pop culture status. [[spoiler:Hearing his tearfully triumphant delivery of his MotiveRant is a twist in itself.]]
* OhCrap: Several. One of the most notable is when [[spoiler:David realizes that he’d fallen on the plastic cover for a [[KryptoniteFactor swimming pool.]]]]
* TheOner: Many scenes of the film are one continuous shot. Several conversations feature the camera simply panning back and forth between the actors speaking rather than cutting.
* PlayingTheHeartStrings: During the flashback to the car accident.
* ProtoSuperhero: Discussed. Elijah expounds on the ways comic book superheroes have their roots in earlier forms and archetypes, and uses this fact to bolster his belief that they are ultimately based on real life.
* {{Psychometry}}: The film has David discovering that he has the ability to read evil intentions and/or actions in a person via physical contact. He never gave it much thought, as he never tried to develop it and dismissed it as intuition. Elijah eventually confirms that his intuition is extremely accurate, to the point of describing the look and design of a concealed gun.
* ReligiousAndMythologicalThemeNaming: David, Elijah, and Joseph all come from Literature/TheBible. There may be some symbolism implied: David was a warrior king, Elijah was a prophet, and Joseph was an idealistic dreamer.
* ScaryBlackMan: Played with: any character played by Samuel L. Jackson is bound to have an intimidating presence, but his character has a bone disease that makes him extremely frail and infirm. [[spoiler:He’s also the super-villain of the story.]]
* SecondaryColorNemesis: Elijah talks about the use of secondary colors to characterize villains in comic books. The first villain David faces on his path to becoming a superhero is a sadistic janitor who wears bright orange overalls, while his diabolical arch-enemy wears [[spoiler:purple, because it’s Elijah himself]].
* SerialKiller: [[spoiler:Elijah kills far more people than he probably needed to just to find his antithesis. The janitor also was one.]]
* SeriousBusiness: When Elijah is first seen as an adult, he is speaking about the artistic merit of a very valuable concept sketch for a comic character, and the customer says he’ll take it. Elijah walks out while congratulating him on his purchase, but stops when the other man remarks, “My kid’s gonna go berserk.” At that, Elijah [[TheReasonYouSuckSpeech tears into the man]].
-->'''Elijah''': Once again, please?\\
'''Customer''': My son Jeb; it’s a gift for him.\\
'''Elijah''': How old is “Jeb”?\\
'''Customer''': He’s four.\\
'''Elijah''': No. No, no, no, no, ''NO''. You need to go. Now.\\
'''Customer''': W-What did I say?\\
'''Elijah''': Do you see any Series/{{Teletubbies}} here? Do you see a slender plastic tag clipped to my shirt with my name on it? Did you see a little Asian child with a blank expression sitting outside in a mechanical helicopter that shakes when you put quarters in it? No? Well, that’s what you’d see at a toy store; and you must think you’re ''in'' a toy store, because you’re here shopping for an infant named Jeb. Now, one of us has made a gross error, and wasted the other person’s valuable time. This is an ''art gallery'', my friend, and ''this'' is a piece of ''art''.
* ShoutOut:
** Elijah’s hairstyle is based on Frederick Douglass.
** Given the movie’s comic book themes, there is a subtle one that is FridgeBrilliance on later viewings. As noted above, the ColorMotif that goes with Elijah is purple, and his office has a large Egyptian pictoral behind his chair, both of which are references to [[spoiler:Ozymandias from ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}''. It’s FridgeBrilliance after you’ve seen both movies, read the latter’s source material, or both, and know that both characters are actually secretly the villain of the work.]]
** There is another in the scenes in the house when David is wearing his green raincoat with a hood pulled up, making him look like ''The Spectre''. What do David and The Spectre have in common? They both punish the guilty and the first Spectre drowned, like David almost did as a child.
** The note Elijah left David "How many days in your life have you been sick?" is written in comic sans, a font directly inspired by its use in comic books.
* ShowerOfAngst: A DeletedScene had David taking a shower after returning home from the train crash and collapsing into tears. Shyamalan said said it was taken out because it was too much too soon.
* ShownTheirWork: [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Osteogenesis_imperfecta Osteogenesis imperfecta]] is a real disease, and was classified into four types at the time the film was made, as explained by Elijah (who explains further that he has Type I, the most common and least severe one). [[ScienceMarchesOn Today, there are seven known types.]]
** The mutation of the [=LRP5=] gene can also result in ultra-dense bones. Interestingly, this effect was only noticed by scientist Karl Insogna in 1994 after a man was found uninjured after what appeared to be a serious car accident. The only hint of the condition he had previously was his tendency to [[SuperDrowningSkills sink like a stone]] in water. People with the mutation also tend to have [[LanternJawOfJustice “unusually square jaws.”]] Sounds familiar enough to be inspiration.
* SoleSurvivor: David, in a train wreck.
* StaircaseTumble: While pursuing a man, Elijah falls down a flight of stairs, which puts him in a wheelchair and inflicts damage that necessitates months of physiotherapy.
* StarterVillain: The Janitor is the first real threat David faces, and he almost loses when the Janitor catches David off-guard, knocking him into the pool, inadvertently exploiting David’s KryptoniteFactor. Defeating the Janitor and saving the children is the first time David is hailed as a hero, and Elijah later points out that this is just the first step in his burgeoning career as a real-life hero.
* StealthSequel: The movie has one in the form of [[spoiler:M. Night Shyamalan's ''Film/{{Split}}'', as revealed by David Dunn appearing in that movie's ending]].
* {{Superhero}}: Deconstructed. Unrealized sequels could have been intended as a {{Reconstruction}}.
* {{Supervillain}}: Also deconstructed, in that the film explores what would drive a real person to become one, and what massive loss of life the scale of true supervillainy would entail. [[spoiler:The hero-villain relation is also reversed; the villain isn’t there to give the hero purpose in the plot, the villain created the hero to give himself purpose in the ‘plot’ of life.]]
* SuperDrowningSkills: Played with. David has a phobia of water due to a childhood incident. [[spoiler:It’s shown that David may be invulnerable, but he still requires oxygen, so he can drown just like anyone else, and due to his greater density with his abilities, he sinks like a rock.]]
* SuperStrength: David is clearly shown as being an incredibly strong individual, however, the film never actually confirms the upper limits to David’s strength: they run out of weights to put on the bar for him to lift and put several heavy objects on top of that.[[note]]A deleted scene shows he can lift an excess of 500 pounds.[[/note]] He’s able to wrench open the door of a crashed car. David wasn’t aware of this, as he never pushed himself beyond what he thought he could do. It’s almost StrongAsTheyNeedToBe.
* SurvivorsGuilt: David has a case of this due to being the lone survivor of the train crash. This is expanded in a couple of {{Deleted Scene}}s that show him taking a ShowerOfAngst after hearing reports about the crash, and being disturbed after talking to a priest who is having a CrisisOfFaith due to losing his nephew in the crash.
* ThisIsReality: When David finally admits he has never been injured and asks Elijah what to do, he tells him to go where people are and offers the following advice....
-->'''Elijah:''': It's alright to be afraid, David, because this part won't be like a comic book. Real life doesn't fit into little boxes that were drawn for it.
* ThisIsThePartWhere: “I think this is where we shake hands.”
* TimeShiftedActor: A flashback to the car crash David and Audrey were in while in college has them played by younger actors. The difference is notable but obscured by the low lighting.
* TragicVillain: [[spoiler:Elijah Price]] is desperately looking for a purpose in life. He thinks that being a supervillain is better than not knowing who one really is, so he so he engineers several disasters to find his antithesis, a real-life superhero. He seems to express remorse for the sacrifices necessary to complete his life’s work, but believes it was worth it to finally know who he is.
* TreacherousAdvisor: [[spoiler:Everything Elijah teaches David is so that he can be a great superhero and save people from other villains, but he has ulterior motives for guiding David on his journey. He wants David to be the hero so his own role as the villain is defined and was willing to engineer the deaths of hundreds of people in order to make this happen.]]
* UnbuiltTrope: A deconstruction of the ‘Realistic Superhero’ (sub)genre, before ‘realistic’ superheroes even became a thing in motion pictures. It’s older than ''Film/BatmanBegins'', preceded only by actual comic books such as ''ComicBook/{{Watchmen}}''. It also goes even further than later deconstructions: David is entirely human, has only some above-average abilities and no super-gadgets, and struggles with accepting his role because he thinks heroes are just the stuff of stories, whilst his EccentricMentor Elijah speculates that heroic characters are in fact inspired ''by'' real-life heroes such as him. [[spoiler:Elijah proves how dangerous applying tropes to real life can be; to force it into a narrative that makes sense to him, he arranges the deaths of hundreds of people to cement himself as a supervillain and find his natural opposite, David’s superhero.]]
* UnwittingInstigatorOfDoom: Elijah’s mother. By introducing him to his first comic book in an attempt to cheer him up, it ultimately led to [[spoiler:Elijah becoming a real-life supervillain by causing ''hundreds'' of deaths as he attempted to find his antithesis in a real-life superhero]].
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: In-story, Elijah believes that the concept of the superhero, dating back to the epic heroes of the ancient world, was inspired by real-life people with superhuman qualities.
** The film itself is based on actual medical stories, both Elijah's brittle bones and David's indestructible bones. In fact, one story has a man in a car accident and was unharmed, but went to the hospital because that's what you're supposed to do. They learned that his bones were ultra-dense, as strong as granite, and the only indication he had before the accident was that he couldn't swim.
* VillainOpeningScene: [[spoiler:The film opens with the origin story and birth of the later supervillain and David’s TreacherousAdvisor Elijah, showing why his fragility devastated his mother and ultimately caused him to became a WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds, which is further fleshed out in a later scene between the two.]]
* WalkingSpoiler: More like ‘Limping Spoiler,’ but going into great detail about Elijah’s character ''will'' spoil a majority of the film.
* WeddingRingRemoval: In his first scene, David removes his wedding ring before flirting with a much younger woman on a train. After a while, she ends the conversation by telling him she’s married.
* WhamLine: In the opening scene with the doctor.
-->''"Ma'am, I've never seen... this. It appears your baby has suffered some fractures while in your uterus. His arms and his legs are broken."''
* WoobieDestroyerOfWorlds: [[spoiler:Elijah suffers from osteogenesis imperfecta, which creates a brittleness in his bones that makes them very susceptible to fracture. He can’t do things other kids can do in his childhood, is constantly in casts, and has only comic books to bring him joy. Then he decides that his purpose in life is to be a supervillain...]]
* YourCheatingHeart: David’s awkward flirtation with a girl on his doomed train trip. Audrey later asks him, with no strings attached, if he has cheated since they've been having problems, and he tells her no. Her emotional reaction to that (and a DeletedScene) suggests she ''has'' been unfaithful.
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->''"[[spoiler:[[HeelRealization I should’ve known way back when... You know why, David?]] [[KidsAreCruel Because of the kids.]] [[AppropriatedAppellation They called me Mr. Glass.]]]]"''