What a twist
So I was very surprised to hear from many online that several audience members didn’t “get” the ending to Split or understand what it was referring to. Granted it’s been a while to the film being referenced and several teenagers watching Split were probably not even born when the source was even released (Christ I feel old). So for viewers who didn’t quite understand the significance behind the ending and for those who want to speculate what Split’s ending signifies in M. Night Shyamalan’s future, let’s do a bit of spoiler discussion. Obviously, if you haven’t seen the movie I wouldn’t recommend reading any further, and you should check it out because as my review mentioned, it’s a pretty good watch. Also, I’d recommend seeing M. Night’s Unbreakable, because I’ll also be discussing that film. For everyone else, let’s jump in.
So after the resolution to Split where our protagonist is spared from The Beast as she too has suffered pain and therefore worthy of life, the worshipers of the Beast remark that the Beast’s power is incredible and will be able to “change the world.” Cue the the title card ending the piece when the camera comes back on to focus on a diner where the patrons listen to the news report about the murders committed by Kevin. The reporter ends her coverage with dubbing Kevin’s multiple personalities as “The Horde.” One of the patrons says the name reminds her of a guy in a wheelchair who committed a bunch of murders 15 years ago and the press gave him a nickname, trying to remember the title. A man behind her (played by Bruce Willis) with a uniform name of “Dunn” replies that the man in the wheelchair’s name was “Mr. Glass.”
So Bruce Willis was portraying David Dunn, the main protagonist of Shyamalan’s Unbreakable from the year 2000. This was essentially a great superhero movie before the age of great superhero films and it wasn’t based off any specific comic series. Dunn was a simple security guard who survives a train wreck that killed over 100 people, however not only was Dunn the sole survivor of the wreck but Dunn didn’t even have a scratch on him. As the world discovers Dunn’s survival, a wheelchair bound man named Elijah Price is hellbent on meeting him. Fascinated with comics at an early age to due to his disability of Type I osteogenesis imperfecta that makes his bones as brittle as glass, Price always believed that someone with the exact opposite of his condition must exist.
Believing he found the polar opposite in Dunn, Price encourages the guard to test his abilities further. Soon, Dunn realizes he is truly invulnerable, he can never get sick, and he discovers he can even see memories of misdeeds perpetrated by those he comes into physical contact with. After a display of heroism, Price then invites Dunn to shake hands…where Dunn’s abilities reveal that Price was behind the trainwreck and numerous acts of terrorism. Apparently, Price’s mission to find his polar opposite was so intense, that he sacrificed hundreds of lives to discover him. As Dunn leaves in disgust (and to call the cops), Price laments about his condition of how weak he felt and how children always picked on him to call him names, names like “Mr. Glass.”
So the end of Split is what’s essentially a Marvel post-credits stinger for what Shyamalan has in store for an Unbreakable sequel that he had always talked about making, but never got around to writing. Given the characters of both films, I do like the possibility of a series of films featuring superhuman characters deriving their strengths from extreme versions of what’s essentially medical conditions. You know Kevin is going through Dissociative Identity Disorder, Mr. Glass is going through an extreme form of brittle bones, and Dunn has a condition that could be considered high bone density from LRP5, a gene linked to causing low bone density. So M. Night Shyamalan has the potential to mine several of the world’s strangest and rarest forms of diseases and treats in which protagonists and antagonists can duel and shape the world in their own, subtle ways.
And I’m fine with a film featuring low-budget super heroics as it’ll require someone who can operate on a low budget to make cool and intriguing stories. Kind of like what M. Night Shyamalan just did with Split, which has not only received critical praise but managed to enjoy financial success on top of that. I hope Shyamalan continues with the budgetary limits as it has effectively controlled his more bizarre habits while encouraging him to take more risks outside of his usual wheelhouse to keep people interested.
So will Kevin’s Beast get into a big ol’ fist fight with Dunn? Probably, as it’s apparently in M. Night’s plans, but I do hope the actual match up isn’t as silly as the third act of Split and he chooses to explore a world of those living with trauma to become better than those who did not while also exploring the concepts of curses versus gifts. Can M. Night pull it off? Eh…look I’m not ready to jump on the bandwagon that M. Night is back in form, but if he succeeds with his Unbreakable follow up, then I’ll definitely be more receptive to his films thereafter. Here’s hoping to a brighter future for a man who desperately needs redemption. Hey, it happened for Robert Downey, Jr. and Ben Affleck, so it can happen for anyone.
So the best of luck to M. Night, and drop your own theories as to where M. Night could take his concept. Who knows? He might come across this post and be convinced to not do something stupid in an upcoming film…a guy can dream can he?