Glass: Shyamalan's Fragile Twist, Explained

WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for M. Night Shyamalan's Glass, in theaters now.

Glass is the final chapter in M. Night Shyamalan's superhero trilogy, a payoff for the groundwork he laid down in 2000's Unbreakable and 2016's Split. It essentially concludes Shyamala's love letter to comic books, wrapping up the director's story of what would happen if superhumans actually existed in the real world.

As he pits Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy) -- including, of course, his Beast persona -- against each other, Shyamalan throws in not just one, but two major twists in the movie's final act, in the process changing how audiences will view not only the character's actions in this film, but in both of the trilogy's previous chapters as well.

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When we first meet psychiatrist Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) at the Raven Hill mental facility, she seems genuinely concerned about treating people who have delusions of grandeur that they're superheroes. It's her job to convince them they're not really super-powered in order to stop them from putting their bodies in harm's way.

As she presents scientific evidence to David and the Beast that they're normal, they begin to doubt themselves. That is, until Elijah pushes them into the film's climactic battle outside the compound. Eventually, the Beast is killed, David is drowned by a group of military soldiers, and Elijah himself dies after suffering numerous broken bones. It turns out the kill order was given by Ellie for reasons which come to light when she allows a dying David to touch her and peer into her memories, revealing a shadow cabinet whose members all have a black clover tattooed on their skin.

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She ordered the deaths of these superhumans because her cabal believes they shouldn't exist. This secret society has existed for centuries, maintaining order by gaslighting superhumans to the point where they believe they don't really have powers, and when the individuals resist the false reality, they murder them. When Ellie meets up with the society and lectures them on the trio's death at the film's end, we learn that their sole purpose is to ensure both heroes and villains alike are taken off the board. In short, the planet simply cannot have gods walking among men.


In Unbreakable, the big twist was that Elijah was the mastermind who engineered the train crash that killed everyone on board except for David. It was part of his experiments to see if someone who is his polar opposite (as he had brittle bone disease) existed. This is how David found out he was, well, unbreakable, a discovery that led to David becoming a vigilante, one ironically created by Elijah's selfish desires.

RELATED: Glass Features Unseen Footage From Unbreakable

However, Glass' final act adds one more curveball to this arc when we see the Beast gearing up to kill David in their big fight. David's son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) interjects and tells the beast that the Beast/Kevin's father was a victim of that crash, a tragedy that splintered an abused boy's mind beyond repair. Thus, Elijah's actions were the catalyst for over a dozen personalities emerging from Kevin's psyche, including the Beast, whose sole purpose was to kill so that no one could ever hurt Kevin again.

When Elijah tries to rationalize his actions as fate to the Beast, well, he isn't successful... at all. While the Beast is on one level thankful that Elijah helped create his violent personality, he still brutally beats Elijah, mortally wounding him and leaving the wheelchair-ridden genius bleeding out. The Beast isn't a fan of coincidence, and thus makes Elijah pay not only for what he did to Kevin, but the chaos that ensued thereafter, throughout their life.

In theaters now, director M. Night Shyamalan's Glass stars James McAvoy as Kevin Wendell Crumb/The Beast, Bruce Willis as David Dunn, Anya Taylor-Joy as Casey Cooke, Samuel L. Jackson as Elijah Price/Mr. Glass and Sarah Paulson as Ellie Staple.

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