The twist in Split, the immediate predecessor to Glass, is one that really doesn't really have anything to do with the 2016 movie's overall plot. At the very end of the film, diner patrons observe a newscast detailing Kevin Wendell Crumb's extraordinary abilities as the multiple-personality villain the Horde. As the diners attempt to recall another infamous killer, Bruce Willis' David Dunn, the protagonist of Unbreakable, reveals himself, reminding them of the 2000 film's central antagonist, Mister Glass.
While bearing no immediate impact on the story, it's important to remember that Split was marketed as a standalone horror film, with no obvious ties to any existing films. Wonderfully understated, it reframes the entire movie as part of a shared cinematic universe, tying directly into the events of the next film on the list.
Much of the 2000 film had Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah Price attempt to convince Bruce Willis' David Dunn that he was, in fact, a modern superhero. Displaying incredible feats of strength and endurance, as well as developing a form of extra-sensory perception that revealed characters' deeds when David came into physical contact with them, Willis' character finally decides to embrace his destiny as a postmodern, working class superhero. Shaking Elijah's hand, David learns that his mysterious mentor is actually the one responsible for accidents resulting in the deaths of hundreds, including the train crash where David discovered his own powers.
For much of the film, Shyamalan set up a confrontation with a serial killer as the main conflict for David to overcome. Elijah's reveal as the secret villain orchestrating the events of the film establishes that the movie is more than about just the modern mythology of superheroes, but also supervillains. In that masterstroke, the stakes immediately heightened and David discovered his true enemy.
1. The Sixth Sense
The breakout hit film that catapulted Shyamalan's career into the Hollywood mainstream, 1999's The Sixth Sense featured the filmmaker's greatest twist. As Bruce Willis' child psychologist Malcolm learns that his latest patient, Cole, can see dead people, he comes to the eventual realization that he has himself been dead for some time, killed by a former patient much earlier in the film.
There is a reason that the twist from this film has largely defined Shyamalan's career and is an association he will never completely shake. While there are clues scattered throughout the film regarding Malcolm's true fate, the twist was one of the most talked about moments upon the film's initial release 20 years ago, having audiences return for repeat viewings to pick up on the all the hints leading to the revelation. It remains the singular definitive moment in Shyamalan's entire filmography.
Directed and written by M. Night Shyamalan, Glass is slated for release on Jan. 18. The film 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.