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Film / Glass (2019)

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This page contains unmarked spoilers for Unbreakable and Split. You Have Been Warned!
"Everything we will see and do will have a basis in science. But it will have limits. This is the real world, not a cartoon. And yet some of us don't die from bullets. Some of us can still bend steel. That is not a fantasy."
Mr. Glass

Glass is a psychological superhero thriller film. It is the crossover sequel to both 2000's Unbreakable and 2017's Split, directed and written like them by M. Night Shyamalan, and stars Bruce Willis as David Dunn/The Overseer, Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass, James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Horde, Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, Spencer Treat Clark as Joseph Dunn, Charlayne Woodard as Ms. Price and Sarah Paulson as Dr. Ellie Staple. It was released on January 18, 2019.

The Overseer tries to stay one step ahead of the law while delivering vigilante justice on the streets of Philadelphia. His special abilities soon put him on a collision course with the Beast – a psychotic madman who has superhuman strength and 23 distinct personalities. Their encounter leads them to Mr. Glass, a criminal mastermind who holds critical secrets for both men.

Also notable for the fact that Universal Pictures and Disney have produced and distributed the movie together, with Disney using the Buena Vista International brand for the release of the film.

Previews: Trailer 1 (preview 1, preview 2, preview 3), Trailer 2.

Has nothing to do with the Interactive Fiction retelling of Cinderella by Emily Short, or the Yu-Gi-Oh! fanfic.

Glass contains examples of:

  • Abandoned Hospital: Although the asylum was not abandoned in the film itself, some of the asylum scenes have the look, with long dark corridors and empty space. The scenes were filmed in the actual abandoned (and since demolished) Allentown State Hospital, a former mental hospital in Allentown, Pennsylvania.
  • Above Good and Evil: The Ancient Conspiracy considers itself this. Ironically, the things it does firmly establish it's the greatest evil of all in the setting.
    Dr. Staple: They got it wrong in the comics. They talk about secret evil groups trying to stop the heroes. I don't think we are particularly evil, and we don't choose sides. We try to stop both of you. If there is one of you, the opposite of you appears. It escalates. We step in. There just can't be gods amongst us.
  • Absurdly Youthful Mother: Once again, Charlayne Woodard as Mr. Glass' mother. Woodard is five years younger than Samuel L. Jackson. This is because most of her scenes in Unbreakable were flashbacks to Mr. Glass' youth, and only had one scene in the present day.
  • Actionized Sequel: Both prior films were mostly slow burns with only one or two actual "action" scenes. While this film retains the psychological thriller elements, the action quotient is heightened.
  • Actor Allusion: This is yet another M. Night film with Bruce Willis, so of course, he threw in a subtle reference to Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense (trying to talk to a vision of his dead wife), but he also added a major reference to Bruce Willis as John McClane in Die Hard (the villain's scheme is to suggest a fake terrorist plot against a large corporation tower).
  • Ancient Conspiracy: There is a group of people that has spent millennia enforcing the Masquerade, and killing or imprisoning superhumans whenever they start attracting attention. Dr. Staple claims they have been doing this for 10,000 years. Deconstructed in that The Reveal explains that they're Well Intentioned Extremists that view the existence of superpowered people as fundamentally unfair to ordinary people and want to prevent a Beware the Superman scenario from happening.
  • All for Nothing: The ancient conspiracy has spent ten thousand years trying to uphold the masquerade, and everything they have done to preserve it has been destroyed by a single video.
  • Anticlimax: Seemingly an Invoked Trope. Rather than any kind of standard heroic death scene, the Overseer is unceremoniously drowned in a puddle, as superhuman ability aside, he’s still just an old man being faced with his greatest weakness.
  • Archetypal Character: Both The Overseer, The Horde, and Mr. Glass end up played as archetypal figures for larger-than-life figures in comic books. The end implies they'll end up as the "founding myths/archetypes" for a new era of superheroes and supervillains.
  • Arc Welding: The ending of Split revealed that it was a Shared Universe with Unbreakable, but it wasn't until then that the Overseer was aware of the Horde's existence. Now, the Overseer is actively hunting him down. It also turns out that Kevin's father was killed in the same train crash that Mr. Glass engineered to reveal the Overseer's powers.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Dr. Staple, in an attempt to convince The Overseer, The Horde, and Mr. Glass that they couldn't possibly have superpowers, asks them why there's only three of them in the whole world. This is devastating enough that even the Overseer and some of the Horde start to doubt their powers. The answer: because the Ancient Conspiracy kills them all.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Played With. While Mr. Glass posthumously succeeds in his Broken Masquerade, his villainy had already been eclipsed by the Cape Busters Ancient Conspiracy by that point, making it feel like a more heroic aim. The same can be said for the Ancient Conspiracy; as while they basically get away with successfully killing the Overseer, the Horde, and Mr. Glass, their main goal to hide the existence of superhumans is foiled by Mr. Glass outwitting them.
  • Being Good Sucks: Dr. Staple is able to get the Overseer to surrender to the police at the beginning by pointing out to him that, while he might be able to get away, he'd have to hurt innocent police officers to do so.
  • Beware the Superman:
    • Carried over from Split, the Beast is depicted as this in contrast to the Overseer. A direct contrast is made between the Overseer pushing a group of riot police into a a cargo container and nonlethally trapping them for their own safety...with the Beast being likewise confronted with a group of riot police and slaughtering them with his bare hands.
    • This trope is also deconstructed, with the Ancient Conspiracy all but said to be so paranoid about this trope coming to pass that they gaslight and kill anyone, heroic or villainous, who develops superpowers.
  • Big Bad:
  • Bittersweet Ending: On one hand, Mr. Glass, the Overseer, and the Horde are dead at the hands of an Ancient Conspiracy that's dedicated to keeping superheroes and supervillains from the public eye. Ms. Price has lost her son, Casey lost a friend, and Joseph is now an orphan due to losing his mom and now his father. On the other hand, the Ancient Conspiracy failed, as Mr. Glass was able to leak footage of the climactic fight to the public with the help of Joseph, Casey, and his mother, thereby ruining the conspiracy's 10,000-year plan in a single bound and ushering in an era of true blue heroes and villains.
  • Book Ends:
    • Not counting flashbacks, the entire trilogy began when the Overseer was taking a train back to Philadelphia, with the resulting crash secretly awakening a superhero and a supervillain. This film ends with Casey, Joseph, and Ms. Price sitting in the Philadelphia train station and being responsible for superheroes being known to the general public. As this happens, the sound of a train stopping can be heard, symbolising a chapter closing on the Overseer, the Horde, and Mr. Glass, and a new one opening for those who are inspired by their actions.
    • The endings of Unbreakable and this film involved the Overseer shaking hands with a hidden villain and learning about their past crimes. Before, it was with Mr. Glass, and the shock caused him to call the authorities and arrest that man. Now, he finds out that Dr. Staple is part of a group that kills off super-powered beings, but he fatally ends up at the mercy of his water weakness to do anything that can stop her misdeeds.
    • Joseph's arc in Unbreakable ended with the Overseer subtly telling Joseph that he has embraced being a superhero, and shushes Joseph to prevent him from telling anybody else about his first superhero foray. His arc in this movie concludes with him broadcasting sent videos depicting the battle between the Overseer and the Horde to the general public. To hammer the point home, there is a flashback of the aforementioned Unbreakable moment, just seconds before Joseph does the deed.
  • Break Them by Talking: Dr. Staple's specialty. She gives rational, logical explanations for various superpowers that cause the super-people to doubt themselves. She doles them out to Joseph, too, when he tries to convince her that his dad is wrongly imprisoned.
  • Broken Masquerade: At the end of the movie, Joseph, Casey, and Ms. Price complete Mr. Glass's plan and blow the Masquerade wide open by broadcasting multiple recordings of the battle at the mental hospital.
  • Brutal Brawl: The fights between the Overseer and the Beast, rather than being slick and highly choreographed like in a modern superhero film, consist of the two of them using heavy punches, slams, and attempts to choke one another out. They are, after all, two completely untrained people who both get by on the fact they have super strength.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Pierce knows that Mr. Glass is an insane criminal mastermind responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people, and yet thinks being condescending to him at best and abusive at worst is a good idea. Mr. Glass makes sure Pierce has a very messy, very final, meeting with the Beast.
  • Call-Back:
    • The Overseer freeing the four cheerleaders chained to pipes is very similar to when he freed two children, who were similarly chained by the Orange Suit man.
    • When Joseph is musing on the lie that the Overseer's powers are a delusion, he ruefully looks at a weightlifter in his school, referencing the Overseer's increasingly heavy bench pressing in Unbreakable.
    • As his last words, Mr. Glass declares "I wasn't a mistake, mama", which is a call back to one of his final lines in Unbreakable ("I'm not a mistake!").
  • Cape Busters: The Ancient Conspiracy, which includes Dr. Staple, focuses on eliminating superhumans at large, be they supervillains or superheroes.
  • Cold Open: Manages to do both a Villain Opening Scene and a Batman Cold Open. The film starts with Patricia approaching kidnapped cheerleaders in her disarming manner, and jumps into a series of credits. Then it shows some violent guys videotaping themselves beating up random people, where the Overseer confronts them at home. Cue opening title.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Like in Unbreakable, all three main characters have a distinctive color they're associated with, to continue the superhero and supervillain theme. As seen on the poster above, the Overseer is green, Mr. Glass is purple, and the Beast is mustard yellow. This also extends to those associated with the characters; Joseph wears a green jacket, Ms. Price wears a purple sweater, and Casey wears a red, white, and yellow note  blazer. Noteworthy that Dr. Staple is almost always wearing a muted grey in contrast to the more vivid colors associated with the three main characters, hinting at her more significant role opposing them.
  • Comic-Book Time: Hinted at in a conversation between Hedwig and Dr. Staple. Hedwig is supposed to be nine years old, and presumably has been ever since he first manifested in the Horde's body however long ago. Dr. Staple pressures on him the absurdity that he is really nine years old, saying his life experiences has to compound.
  • Continuity Nod: Shyamalan's Creator Cameo brings up that he was the drug dealer at the stadium in Unbreakable, who the Overseer approaches for a pat-down, and Jai, Dr. Fletcher's building manager from Split, and mentioning that he was looking for added security because "one of the tenants was killed off site."
  • Contrived Coincidence: The train crash that revealed the Overseer to Mr. Glass in the first place also, seemingly by accident, created the Horde, by killing Kevin's father and leaving him in the care of his abusive mother. Him developing superpowers and becoming the Horde and the Beast as a result was probably not supposed to be part of the original plan for Mr. Glass.
  • Cool Old Guy: The Overseer is nearing 60 by the time of this film. However, this doesn’t seem to have slowed him down in the slightest. Having super strength and super health probably helps too.
  • Cooldown Hug: Emulating the comic book use of this trope, Casey making physical contact with The Horde manages to instigate Kevin to return to the light, despite the fact the other personalities typically overpower him.
  • The Cowl: The Overseer's style of superheroics, being a dark, shadowy figure who finds people that have already commited violent crimes and punishes them for it, quite unlike what Mr. Glass was hoping for. Incidentally, also the style of the Overlord's costume, which is a poncho.
  • Creator Cameo: M. Night Shyamalan appears as a customer at the Overseer's shop. This is also a Call-Back to Unbreakable, as the Overseer recognizes him and Night states he's gone legit and cleaned up. The end credits reveal he was Jai, from Split, making he and the Overseer the only characters who have appeared in all films of the trilogy.
  • Creepy Child: The Horde's Hedwig personality, shown roller skating around the captured cheerleaders happily talking about the Beast coming to eat them.
  • Crossover: The Stinger of Split featured a cameo of the Overseer, establishing a shared continuity with Unbreakable. The main characters of both films all appear in Glass.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Riot police confront the Beast. The end result is a lot of dead police and the Beast without any visible injury.
  • Deadly Hug: The Beast's preferred Finishing Move.
  • Decoy Protagonist: The marketing and opening of the movie heavily imply the Overseer is the protagonist, fighting the antagonist, the Beast. The actual protagonist is the titular Mr. Glass, and his goal is to defeat the Ancient Conspiracy and reveal heroes to the world.
  • Doing In the Wizard: Dr. Staple offers plausible explanations for the characters' more outlandish abilities, and it's convincing enough that the Overseer and the Horde begin doubting themselves. Mr. Glass counters that yes, everything they are capable of is based in science and reality, but that doesn't make them any less extraordinary.
  • Don't Create a Martyr: The less altruistic aspect of Dr. Staple's work. Gaslighting superhumans into believing they don't have powers avoids the possibility of creating martyrs. Unfortunately for her, Mr. Glass creates a triple whammy of himself, the Overseer, and the Horde at the ending.
  • Double-Meaning Title: The name Glass is both the supervillainous identity of Mr. Glass ("First name: Mister. Last name: Glass.") and thematically similar to the names of the previous films, Unbreakable and Split, which are related to the theme of "broken" people.
  • The Dreaded: The Overseer has made a name for himself; in the Batman Cold Open, he breaks into the home of some violent thugs and one mentions in terror "It's you!"
    • The Horde is also terrified of the Overseer. Since the whole point of the Beast is to be stronger than anyone, the alters finding out there's someone even stronger than that causes the normally unflappable Patricia to visibly worry in the asylum.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: The Overseer is killed in an entirely anticlimactic way via simple drowning, as he is still Unskilled, but Strong, is still recovering from nearly drowning in the tank, and is faced with people prepared for his abilities.
  • Dying as Yourself: At the end, Casey helps the Beast revert back to Kevin through gentleness and compassion. A sniper uses that opportunity to shoot him in the chest while he is no longer Nigh-Invulnerable. The other personalities take over and try to say their Last Words, but Kevin manages to regain control and is determined to hold on to the light.
  • Evasive Fight-Thread Episode: Put up against each other, neither the Overseer or the Beast are quite able to get the advantage over the other. The Overseer seems to have a more practiced and precise form of fighting, while the Beast is a berserker who stays ahead primarily through dexterity and speed. The Beast throws the Overseer into the water tank and tries to drown him, but the Overseer holds him off long enough to punch his way out and they spill out into the lawn. Both are winded, but any attempt to continue is interrupted.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • The Beast doesn't kill the homeless and the disabled. Why would he, they are broken and thus pure. He even likens himself to them.
    • The Beast also objects to Mr. Glass causing the abuse of Kevin by engineering the train crash that killed his father and left Kevin in the 'care' of his abusive mother. Mr. Glass feels the full extent of that ire.
    • And Dr. Staple objects to the killing of superhumans and would rather they were made to think they were normal, rather than made dead.
    • Dennis draws the line at destroying a skyscraper, not wanting to butcher that many people. He gets shut out of the light for his trouble.
  • Evil Cripple: Mr. Glass, as already established. While Unbreakable shows him getting hurt and put into a wheelchair for the rest of the film, this movie shows he has taken to using a wheelchair permanently.
  • Evil Gloating: On a rewatch, it becomes clear that that's what Dr. Staple is doing whenever she takes the time to list the ways that each prisoner's cell is designed to contain them.
  • Evil Is Hammy: It's as if the Beast was doing a General Zod impression when pronouncing "KNEEL!"
  • Face–Heel Turn: In Split, the Horde consisted of Dennis, Hedwig, and Patricia, who had evil intentions and helped bring out the Beast, but the other personalities were benign and would try to fight against them whenever possible. In this film, none of the personalities like being locked up and are confrontational with Dr. Staple and the orderlies. Notably, Jade is shown trying to make a clever escape (flirting with Daryl and positioning him directly in front of the lights to give her a fighting chance). After meeting with Mr. Glass, Patricia says that ten of the personalities are now in agreement, which only makes the Horde more dangerous.
  • Five-Second Foreshadowing: After Kevin is shot by a sniper, the camera pans to focus on a clover tattoo on the wrist of the latter. Another policeman with the same tattoo drowns David in a deep puddle of water. Moments later, it is revealed that this tattoo is the mark of the Ancient Conspiracy that suppresses the existence of superhumans.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • At several points in the story, people question the fact that if superhumans really exist, then why there are only just three of them. The answer is because there is a powerful Ancient Conspiracy that makes it its work to kill or neutralize any super that draws the attention of the world.
    • Observant viewers will note that for all of Dr. Staple's talk about how she doesn't believe they're superheroes, she puts multiple safeguards in place, like a steel door and waterpump for the Overseer, to keep them from escaping, despite the fact there'd be no reason to if they were normal. She also refuses to shake hands with the Overseer... until it's too late.
    • Similar to the above, Dr. Staple never takes the easy way out and simply asks them to demonstrate their powers.
    • In a Deleted Scene taken from Unbreakable and used for this movie during Mr. Glass' self-sabotaged laser surgery, Mr. Glass tried a carnival ride as a child. Because of his brittle bone disease, he decides to put a big stuffed teddy and lion on each side of his seat, to cushion him. However, as the ride gets faster, the stuffed animals fall off and he is flung onto his left shoulder, breaking that first. More collisions occur afterwards, breaking more of his bones. They actually tell us how Mr. Glass dies. Firstly, Joseph informs the Beast that Kevin's father died in the same Eastrail 177 train disaster that Mr. Glass orchestrated to find super-powered beings. Like the stuffed lion lost in that carnival ride, Mr. Glass loses the Beast's trust in him in one fell swoop. As retaliation, the Beast crushes Mr. Glass' left shoulder with his hand, referencing the first aforementioned carnival ride injury. And then, to continue his fight with the Overseer, the Beast shoves Mr. Glass back hard, rupturing Mr. Glass' organs. Finally, Mr. Glass tries to get off his wheelchair, but falls and breaks more bones in the process, sealing his fate.
    • When Casey goes to a comic shop to get some comics, the owner of the shop (who's played by the same actor who yelled at Mr. Glass to get out of the comics store in ''Unbreakable''), he mentions how superheroes in comics pretty much all started when Superman picked up a car with his bare hands. During the climax of the movie, the Beast does the same when dealing with the riot police and with that footage, it leads to the age of supers coming into the public.
    • A subtle blink and you'll miss it foreshadow. The shot of the water tank outside of the hospital is framed in a strange way where you see part of the parking lot earlier in the film, including a pot hole with a construction guard marking it. During the final climax, that pot hole, full of water from the tank being popped open, is used to drown the Overseer.
  • Gaslighting: Dr. Staple's life work revolves around convincing people with superhuman powers that their abilities aren't real and it is all in their heads. She considers this a more humane alternative to simply killing them. The method is so effective that in a matter of days, the Overseer and the Horde were beginning to doubt their own powers.
  • Genre Savvy: Almost every named character is or becomes conversant in the tropes of superhero comics, using them to guide their actions or to explain their reality.
  • Good Is Not Soft: The Overseer tracks down people who have done bad things and finds some way to enact justice. Sometimes it's just beating them up.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: We don't get to see the details when the Beast pummels Pierce to death.
  • Grand Finale: The film is intended to be the closing chapter of M. Night Shyamalan's trilogy of movies based on superheroes and supervillains.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: In one of the most brutal examples, just as Casey manages to reach out to Kevin and he finally has the Beast and his other personalities under control, a sniper shoots him, and without the invulnerability of the Beast, he seems to take the shot like a normal human.
  • The Hero Dies: Played With. While the Overseer dies (followed by Mr. Glass and then the Horde), the ending seems to set up Casey, Joseph, and Ms. Price as new protagonists for The Unmasqued World.
  • Hollywood Law:
    • Dr. Staple leads the police to the Overseer and the Horde, has them stunned unconscious and dragged off to an insane asylum under her care with absolutely no trial or lawyers or any due process, and not even the Overseer's son (who, granted, might be worried about being labeled an accomplice) seeks any legal recourse other than going to the doctor and pleading her to let his dad go. Granted, the existence of the Shamrock conspiracy might help explain this, as any judges or lawyers might be in on it, but given that the Overseer is a well known hero, even being known as a local hero outside of his superheroics, and nobody seems to even think about the plainly criminal lengths Dr. Staple went to capture and detain him, it still fits this trope.
    • Her decision to give Mr. Glass a lobotomy is completely unethical and illegal as well, but again the Shamrock conspiracy would mean that legality wasn't high on her list of priorities; the bigger issue is that nobody else, including the seemingly ignorant staff at the hospital, call her out on this.
  • Hyper-Awareness: Dr. Staple tries convincing the Overseer that his Touch Telepathy is actually more a subconscious analysis of the situation, comparing it to mentalist magicians. The Overseer questions that reasoning, as it assumes a completely different thought process than what actually goes through his head.
  • Idiot Ball: With 24 personalities to do the thinking for the Horde, you would have thought that at least one would have come up with the idea of negating the light flash apparatus by shutting his eyes really tight, wrapping some clothing around his eyes, and clamping both hands tightly over his eyes — any light bright enough to penetrate two hands, clothing, and eyelids would be bright enough to burn, and he clearly wasn't burned by the light. This would have got him past the line and allowed him to destroy the lights, allowing the Beast to break out of the cell proper.
  • I Have Many Names: News and social media nicknames for the Overseer's superheroic identity are mentioned. For a time they called him the Green Guardian, before landing on the Overseer. One that was proposed but didn't get traction, to his relief, was "the Tip Toe Man" (presumably due to how quietly he walks).
  • Juxtaposed Reflection Poster: The teaser poster shows the three main characters of the trilogy: The Overseer, Mr. Glass, and The Horde, seated on chairs from the neck down, in their civilian identities. Their reflections show their "true selves", the Overseer, Glass, and the Beast, standing up and looking intimidating.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The crux of Mr. Glass' plan to outwit the Ancient Conspiracy. He spends most of the film acting like his ultimate endgame is to have the Overseer and the Beast fight in public at the Osaka Tower, allowing Dr. Staple to intercept and kill them all before they even make it off the sanitarium grounds. By the time Dr. Staple realizes she's been had and the real plan was to upload a video of the final fight to the internet using the sanitarium's own security cameras, it's far too late.
  • Karma Houdini: Subverted Trope. While Dr. Staple and her partners seem to get away with full-blown murder (especially in the Overseer’s case), Mr. Glass managed to outsmart Dr. Staple and her organization, leaking the battle between the Beast and the Overseer, both toppling their whole conspiracy and presumably leading to a thorough investigation into their cover-ups and the murders that they have been committing.
  • Killed to Uphold the Masquerade: The Overseer, the Beast, and Mr. Glass are all killed by the Ancient Conspiracy in order to cover up the fact that superhumans exist. Mr. Glass makes sure that it fails.
  • Kneel Before Zod: It's mentioned twice that the "unbroken" are expected to kneel before the Beast.
  • Kryptonite Factor: As established in Unbreakable, the Overseer still needs air to breathe and sinks like a rock in water. With the Horde, bright flashes of light can trigger a random alter to take control, preventing the Beast from keeping the light for long or otherwise allowing the alters to coordinate an escape (which only works at night or in indoor conditions, as existing outdoor light nullifies the effect).
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Split is a sequel to Unbreakable, and this is the third film of the trilogy. At the time it was released, Split was a Stealth Sequel.
  • Legacy Launch: During the climax, Ms. Price observes how the story is deviating from the formula established by "limited editions", and Mr. Glass can only smile and respond "Oh, Mama... this is not a limited edition. This was an origin story the whole time." We are later shown that what he means is effectively a in-universe Legacy Launch: The Overseer, The Horde, and Mr. Glass all die, but their deaths act as a cataclysm/origin story for the rise of several other supers carrying their legacy.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Mr. Glass's goal is to force the Overseer to fight the Beast in front of the world, showing people the truth about superheroes. He succeeds.
  • A Lighter Shade of Black: Mr. Glass vs the Ancient Conspiracy. Both of them are Well Intentioned Extremists and mass murderers, but whereas Glass has killed people in major incidents to expose the existence of people with super abilities, hoping to create superheroes for the greater good of humankind, the Conspiracy has been doing this to suppress the superheroes for 10,000 years. Ultimately, Mr. Glass succeeds in tearing down their entire operation in a single swoop thanks to a video of the Overseer vs the Beast.
  • The Lost Lenore: Audrey Dunn died five years prior due to cancer. The Overseer imagines still seeing her sometimes; we see a glimpse of him seeming about to tell her about his superheroics, but don't know if this is a Flashback, or an Imagine Spot, or even something about his vision powers.
  • Magnetic Plot Device: Mr. Glass is implied to be this, as he has somehow masterminded things, resulting in the whole world seeing, for the first time, a superhero fighting a similarly super-powered supervillain.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event:
    • The ending shows Casey, Joseph, and Ms Price sat on a bench, watching crowds of normal people, while news reports show on large public screens, discussing the leaked video of The Overseer, confirming it was real, and observing that there has been a mass break-out of inmates from Raven Hill, as supers awakened by witnessing the battle between the Overseer and the Horde, both in person at the asylum and by observing the footage being shown.
  • Mission Control: In the time since we last saw him, the Overseer started up a business selling and advising on security systems with his son Joseph. Joseph has a computer station in the back where he looks up and tracks potential targets for the Overseer to look into, and the Overseer's poncho has a microphone letting him communicate with Joseph in real time.
  • Mook Horror Show: In his Batman Cold Open, the Overseer tracks down some violent guys and they are alerted to someone entering from the back door. One goes to investigate and all we hear is a scuffle and see them thrown into the wall. As he emerges from around the corner the other guy is terrified and the Overseer slams off the light switch.
  • My Death Is Just the Beginning: Mr. Glass pulls one of hell of a Xanatos/Thanatos Gambit at the end of the film wherein his plan to stage a very public fight at the Osaka Tower would expose the world to supermen and women and inspire more heroes in the end (achieving his goal), but thanks to all of the security cameras he has set up, stopping that plan completely tanks the Ancient Conspiracy that has been trying to hide them all these years, achieving his goal.
  • New Era Speech: In Mr. Glass' emails sent to Joseph, Casey, and Ms. Price, not only are there recordings of the Beast and the Overseer, there is a message from Mr. Glass.
    "There are unknown forces that don't want us to realise what we are truly capable of. They don't want us to know the things we suspect are extraordinary about ourselves are real. I believe that if everyone sees what just a few people become when they wholly embrace their gifts, others will awaken. Belief in oneself is contagious. We give each other permission to be superheroes. We will never awaken otherwise. Whoever these people are who don't want us to know the truth, today, they lose."
  • Nightmare of Normality: The crux of the trio's stay in the psychiatric hospital, being compelled into believing that they are ordinary human beings with mental illnesses.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The poor Overseer gets smacked with this throughout the movie. In going after the Horde and saving the girls he had abducted, he ends up getting taken to a psychiatric hospital. Then, when he breaks out to stop Mr. Glass and the Horde from destroying Osaka Tower, he ends up being cold-bloodedly murdered by the secret society.
  • No-Sell: In their first encounter, the Beast tries to crush the Overseer the same way he did Dr. Fletcher, to no effect. In fact, almost none of his attacks hurt the Overseer at all, who can catch a table without even flinching and throw it back (causing the Beast to need to take a step back to catch it in turn) and seemingly casually walk the Beast over to a window to throw them both out of it into the street below, all demonstrating how the Overseer is significantly stronger than the Beast in raw power.
  • Not Allowed to Grow Up: Dr. Staple brings this to Hedwig's attention, almost something of a Hannibal Lecture. He is supposed to be nine years old but has been as long as he has existed. She affirms that his stated age doesn't align with his life experiences. Played with later when Mr. Glass calls always being able to see the world through the eyes of a child a power in its own right.
  • Obfuscating Insanity: Mr. Glass pretends to be virtually catatonic. In reality, he's anything but, and has been playing the asylum staff for years.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • Joseph and Mr. Glass both have this expression when they find out that Kevin's dad died in the same train accident that the Overseer was in, at separate occasions. For the latter, he even drops the documents that he was reading.
    • Mr. Glass has another one when the Beast turns towards him in utter rage, angry that the former unintentionally killed the latter's father and caused Kevin to suffer his mother's abuse.
    • Dr. Staple also has one when she overheard some comic book nerds saying that the mastermind always has a secondary plan. She realizes that Mr. Glass has been playing her by having her install more cameras to keep an eye on him, allowing him to send the recording of the Overseer and the Beast's battle to the internet for the world to see.
  • Older Hero vs. Younger Villain: The Overseer is much older than the Horde. (On the other hand, Bruce Willis is also six years younger than Samuel L. Jackson.)
    • The Overseer has a good 20 years on Dr. Staple, the true villain of the story.
  • Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Shamrock conspiracy has meetings by taking over a restaurant, waiting for non-affiliated patrons leave, and then beginning proceedings. One wonders about the restaurant staff, but we're shown them doing this twice (once in a flashback), so it seems to be S.O.P.
  • Once More, with Clarity: Twice.
    • After Dr. Staple finds out about Mr. Glass' visit to the Horde and immediately orders laser surgery on the former's brain, it appears that the surgical laser was malfunctioning. When his surgery is therefore delayed, a still-sane Mr. Glass slices a mental health worker in the neck with a shard of glass, and it is revealed that he wanted to be seen in the surveillance cameras, and had already removed a major component in the laser machine beforehand to avoid losing his mind.
    • In the denouement, Dr. Staple visits a comic book shop and overhears some geeks talking about how the master criminal always has a secondary plan. This makes her revisit the hospital, only to learn that setting up cameras all over the campus to keep an eye on Mr. Glass was exactly what he was hoping she would do. He rigged the system to stream all CCTV footage into a private server, and eventually send it to Joseph, Casey, and his mother so they can leak the entire superhero battle to the public (which they do).
  • One-Man Army:
    • The Overseer is shown shoving an entire line of riot-gear police into a cargo container by himself, demonstrating the level of Super-Strength he possesses.
    • The Beast is shown ripping a SWAT team apart with his bare hands with ease.
  • Only I Can Kill Him: The Overseer states he's the only one that can stop the Beast and Mr. Glass. And it's quite evident he's right, as the riot police who try to stop the Beast are effortlessly slaughtered by him.
  • Out-Gambitted: Glass uses Dr. Staple's own security and precautions to not only beat her, but completely destroy the so-called balance she was helping to maintain.
  • Plausible Deniability: One key facet of the plot is that the actual superpowers of the Overseer, Mr. Glass, and the Horde, can be explained away as Charles Atlas Superpower, Hyper-Awareness, or otherwise some form of mundane answer. Dr. Staple is able to make both the Horde briefly doubt themselves, while Mr. Glass later asserts that you can always just "explain away" their gifts, but that doesn't mean it isn't true. Dr. Staple turns out to belong to an Ancient Conspiracy whose goal is to eliminate the truth of superhumans from the public, as them having super-powers is "not fair on the rest of us."
  • Plot Twist: An Ancient Conspiracy that kills supers exists and Dr. Staple is part of it, who kill the Overseer and the Horde.
  • Police Brutality: Cops in the employ of the Ancient Conspiracy murder the Overseer and the Horde under a guise of taking down dangerous threats (when both were actually no longer threats when this happened).
  • Precursor Hero / Predecessor Villain: The ending of the film shows that the Overseer and the Horde (and possibly Mr. Glass) will end up as the precursor hero and predecessor villain to a new generation of supers that will rise in their wake.
  • Reconstruction: Unbreakable was a deconstruction of the comic book genre, holding it to a real world setting and with real world consequences. Before becoming the Overseer, "David Dunn" was strong but didn't know how strong because he never pushed beyond what regular humans do, and his Touch Telepathy was dismissed for just good intuition. Split approached the premise from a different angle (that of a Supervillain), but this film revisits the end of Unbreakable, really embracing comic book trappings the way that ending had done, while still holding to realism. Mr. Glass more fully embraces being a Diabolical Mastermind, deceiving and misdirecting the people around him while using his immense intellect to cause havoc.
  • Red Herring Twist: The opening of the Osaka Tower that features prominently in the background of many scenes and which Mr. Glass claims will be the target of his master plan. The Tower is never visited and it turns out to be a red herring in-universe as well.
  • Remember the New Guy?: The Ancient Conspiracy has existed for 10,000 years and is introduced at the end of this film. Despite this, nothing in the previous two films suggested their existence at all.
  • Revenge: It's hinted that part of Joseph's motive for sending out the footage he had received from Mr. Glass was to make the Ancient Conspiracy pay for murdering his father.
  • Revised Ending: According to Samuel L. Jackson, the film originally had a very different ending that needed to be changed due to Real Life Writes the Plot. Whether or not this ending will ever be made available is unknown.
  • Rule of Three: Noticeably in the dynamic of the three hero/villain characters — the Overseer, Mr. Glass, the Horde - and in the three supporting loved ones/allies — Joseph, Ms. Price, Casey. It is also symbolized by the three-leaf clover mark of the Ancient Conspiracy, reflecting the common clover representing people trying to stop superhumans from ever going public.
  • Serial Escalation: Split had the Horde display 7 personalities, despite being said to have 24. This film increases the number of personalities McAvoy has to portray (said to be upwards of 12, although may change in the editing), even though the original 7 are more prevalent.
  • Serial Killer: The Horde targets "unbroken" girls as literal sacrifices to the Beast, with the same pattern established in Split. It's implied they've done it a couple of times since those events.
  • Shout-Out: "Active Comics" is an obvious nod to "Action Comics".
  • Shown Their Work: Mr. Glass has numerous surgical scars on his legs and arms; having your bones break so easily and often requires intensive repair work.
  • Sickening "Crunch!": Very. Happens to Mr. Glass since his bones easily break. The Beast crushed his shoulder and hit him in the guts before attacking the Overseer. He then tries to get up from the wheelchair, but fails, and every part of his body that touches the ground breaks. One could imagine how's that going to sound.
  • Signature Move: The Overseer is fond of throwing people into walls and cars. The Beast uses a Finishing Move with a Deadly Hug from behind.
  • Split Personality: The Horde has 24 different personalities, as established in Split.
  • Stealth Sequel: Averted. This movie makes it clear that it's a sequel to both Unbreakable and Split, which is amusing considering that the second Twist Ending to Split is The Reveal that it takes place in the same universe as Unbreakable. (After the reveal of the super-powered alter-ego "the Beast".)
  • Superhero Prevalence Stages: Over the course of the two previous films, we saw the very early stage of a superhero universe, with the rise of a superhero and two supervillains and the whole thing still being very recent and covered in shadows, where we're still dealing with very much our world but with a handful of minor breakaways. This film deals with the development of that world as the superheroes and supervillains collide. More specifically, Glass shows that there is an enforced masquerade going on, and the final battle between the Overseer and the Horde (the world's first true public bonafide supervillain vs superhero showdown) act as a cataclysm that leads to the changing of the world, to that masquerade being broken, and to a Mass Superempowering Event, leading to the implication that the world is now heading into the Middle Stage of an abundance of superheroes and villains that are public knowledge.
  • Super-Strength: Both the Overseer and the Beast possess this.
  • Super-Toughness: Both the Overseer and the Beast have this, with the Overseer having previously survived a train wreck unharmed while the Beast can shrug off point-blank shotgun blasts with only minor wounds.
  • Supervillain: Continuing from Split, this is once more deconstructed. In this case, how utterly outmatched normal people are against a superpowered killing machine.
  • Talking the Monster to Death: Casey does this to the Beast, using her sympathy and compassion to give him a Cooldown Hug which causes Kevin to resurface. Dr. Staple takes advantage of this by having a sniper shoot Kevin while he is no longer Immune to Bullets.
  • Tailor-Made Prison: The Overseer and the Horde are placed in rooms designed to counter their abilities. The Overseer's room is outfitted with high-pressure water hoses designed to subdue him. The Horde's room is outfitted with bright lights that can trigger a different personality, preventing them from using the Beast's strength to escape.
  • They Call Me MISTER Tibbs!: "First name: Mister. Last name: Glass."
  • This Is Reality: Twisted around. Mr. Glass points out that real life isn't a cartoon, "...and yet some of us still don't die with bullets. Some of us can still bend steel."
  • Time Skip: Takes places three weeks after the events of Split.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers feature a line from Dr. Staple saying "We are not meant to have this much power". Observant viewers will notice that this line gives away the fact that Dr. Staple does know that her patients' powers are real, spoiling the Twist Ending.
  • Truth in Television: Some violent kids are shown recording themselves attacking random pedestrians. There was a trend several years prior of teenagers playing a game called "Knock out" where they hit an unsuspecting passerby and try to knock them out.
  • Two-Part Trilogy: Downplayed example, but consider that only two years will have passed since the release of Split, the Sequel Gap between Unbreakable and Split was seventeen years.
  • The Unmasqued World: Mr. Glass's ultimate goal is to bring super people into the light for the world to see.
    Mr. Glass: This is not a cartoon, this is the real world. And yet, some of us still. Don't die. With bullets. Some of us can still bend steel. I have been waiting for the world to see that we exist.
  • Vigilante Man: The Overseer has become this in the 19 years since Unbreakable, sticking mostly to low-level criminals.
  • Villain Team-Up: Mr. Glass and the Horde have ultimately joined forces, and as per usual, the former heavily lampshades it.
    Mr. Glass: May I meet the Beast?
    Patricia: I hope, for your sake, that he likes you.
    Mr. Glass: That sounds like the bad guys teaming up.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Ellie gets a short but satisfying one when she realizes that Mr. Glass had played her that would ensure that the world knows of the superhumans and the conspiracy that she is a part of. She walks into an empty hallway, pauses, then starts screaming.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: The different alters of the Horde try to change clothing appropriate to their personality; the Beast typically removes his shirt.
  • Wham Line:
    • Joseph tells the Beast one very crucial fact about Kevin's father, who was mentioned in Split as having left on a train when Kevin was young.
    • Dr. Staple decides to check on the Raven Hill Memorial security cameras, after having wiped the footage of the Ancient Conspiracy killing the Beast and the Overseer. This is followed by her piecing together Mr. Glass' real plan:
    Raven Hill Memorial computerman: Someone was streaming the live security feed to a private site.
    Dr. Staple: Mr. Glass went through the basement tunnels to be seen by as many cameras as possible. That's why he didn't go out the side entrance. He was never planning on going to that building. This was a suicide mission.
  • Wham Shot:
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Both Mr. Glass and the Beast have done horrible things, but the movie underlines a sincere tragedy to the trauma they've endured. At one point, even the Beast looks about ready to cry after fighting the Overseer and realizing they aren't the strongest and toughest, as their entire purpose was to protect Kevin and all the alters.
  • Worf Had the Flu: After being thrown in the water tank, the Overseer manages to punch his way out while fighting the Beast, but is winded and gasping for air. One of Dr. Staple's henchmen then grabs him and proceeds to drown him in one of the shallow pits that were created. If he were at full strength it would have been easy to resist.
  • Worthy Opponent: After their first encounter, both the Overseer and the Beast recognize each other as particularly strong opponents. One of the reason Mr. Glass sends the Beast after the Overseer is to give the Overseer a fight worthy of a superhero of his caliber so that he can release the video evidence of their existence to the world, proving his life-long convictions to humanity.
    Mr. Glass: I have found someone who will require your full potential.
  • Wrestler in All of Us: Both the Overseer and the Beast primarily use grapple moves, taking advantage of their invulnerability and strength. The Overseer leans more towards arm locks and throwing people into walls, while the Beast prefers latching on and trying to crush his opponent.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Late in the movie, Mr. Glass corrects his mother that what we are witnessing is not an epic limited edition story, but is still just a Super Hero Origin. The full context implies a degree of Leaning on the Fourth Wall as well, aimed at the audience, as M. Night Shyamalan has always claimed that Unbreakable was not a true origin, but just the first third.
  • Xanatos Gambit: Mr. Glass's stated plan was to use the opening ceremony of a high rise, the Osaka Tower, to attract attention and let the public see the Overseer and the Horde fighting out in the open. He seemingly didn't account for her adding extra cameras around the hospital to catch the breakout. He, the Horde, and the Overseer aren't able to make it past the front lawn and are killed by Dr. Staple's henchmen to make sure no one learns the truth of what they are able to do, with her erasing all camera footage of the event. She then realizes that Mr. Glass set her up to think that she foiled his plans, and realizes he never needed to reach the tower, and instead the footage from her own extra security cameras was secretly streamed to a private server, which is then leaked to the press by Joseph, Casey, and Ms. Price.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: Mr. Glass to the Overseer, when he was doubting his powers and his sanity, convinces him of this in his own twisted way to get him moving and his self-confidence back. At the end, he also gives humanity at large this by showing them their potential for superpowers, which was his motivation and goal all along.
  • You Monster!: While his dialogue is silenced during the scene, it's clear that Joseph is yelling this at the conspirators who murdered his father.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: A bit of a unique example. The primary reason Supers aren't known all over the world is because people believe it's impossible. It's that mindset that the Ancient Conspiracy has been keeping intact over the years. Of course, that's not enough to keep everyone in line...

"Are you ready?"

Alternative Title(s): Glass