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Why the Split/Unbreakable sequel will redefine the shared universe movie (WARNING – SPOILERS!)

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WARNING - SPOILERS FOR THE FILMS SPLIT AND UNBREAKABLE!

Last week, director M Night Shyamalan announced that his next movie was to be a sequel to both his 2000 movie Unbreakable AND last year’s Split and that Glass – that’s its title – will be released in January 2019.

With Glass being the third in the series set within the same fictional universe, is Shyamalan taking on Marvel and DC? Here’s why we think Glass will redefine the shared universe movie...


What is a Shared Movie Universe?

Simply, it’s a collection of movies that take place in the same fictional world. So a character from one film may cross into another, or an event from one may be referenced in another.


What other shared movie universes are there?

Marvel certainly popularised the idea of the shared movie universe, but they didn’t invent it. Many Quentin Tarantino movies are connected, for instance (Alabama Whitman, from True Romance, is referenced in Reservoir Dogs, while that film’s Mr Blond is meant to be the brother of Pulp Fiction’s Vincent Vega), while many of Kevin Smith’s movies, from Clerks onwards, revolve around the characters of Jay and Silent Bob.


Why is this new film a sequel to both Unbreakable AND Split?

From The Sixth Sense onwards, director M Night Shyamalan has become synonymous with the shock twist ending. Brilliantly, the shock twist of Split was that we were, in fact, watching a sideways sequel to his 2000 cult hit Unbreakable.

Telling the story of a man, David Dunn (Bruce Willis), who, after a train accident, discovers he has powers of invincibility, Unbreakable was the Superman legend, sans spandex or capes. It starred Samuel L Jackson as a comic book owner, Elijah Price, who earned the nickname Mr Glass at school, due to his ultra-brittle bones. It transpires – UBER SPOILER ALERT! – that he has been orchestrating a series of terrorist disasters, including the earlier train ‘accident’, in order to find Dunn.

When Split premiered earlier this year, moviegoers were blissfully unaware that the film they were seeing had a connection to Unbreakable. Not until the very end, in fact. In the movie, after reports are broadcast about James McAvoy’s Kevin Crumb (whose multiple personalities, it’s reported, have powers), a couple of women in a diner discuss how the case reminds them of someone put behind bars 15 years before, only they can’t remember what the media called him. “Mr Glass,” comes a reply from the man sat beside them. Whoah! It’s David Dunn! And with a look that says, “The day has come…”


Why this shared universe will be different

We can’t think of another film that’s simultaneously a sequel to TWO movies! Unbreakable wasn’t a gigantic hit when it was released in 2000, but its reputation has ballooned considerably in the past 17 years. Hunger for an Unbreakable follow-up is much greater now than it was in the early noughties, and the massive success of Split (it grossed $275 million worldwide on a budget of $9 million) has helped make this sequel a reality.


What kind of film will it be?

We don’t know much at this time, but we’re presuming Glass will be more fantastical than either Unbreakable or Split. Kevin’s powers only really showed themselves towards the end of Split, while Unbreakable was light on traditional superheroics. While we’re not expecting this to be Avengers Assemble or Justice League exactly, we’re imagining that we’re going to be seeing more superpowers on show this time round.


What happens after Glass?

Shyamalan seems to love this Unbreakable universe as much as we do, so it’s entirely possible that we’ll see more movies set there. But will they always revolve around David Dunn, Elijah Price and Kevin Crumb, or will we see new characters from Glass spun off into their own films?


Whatever happens, we can’t wait.

This really will be a shared movie universe like no other. All the DC and Marvel movies are masterminded by different writers and different directors, but this triptych of films are all masterminded by ONE man – M Night Shyamalan. That alone sets it apart. One thing’s for sure – 18 January 2019 can’t come soon enough!