Glass is the third film in M. Night Shyamalan’s loosely related superhero trilogy. Any viewers attached to the first film, Unbreakable, or the second, Split, will likely walk away deeply disappointed as Shyamalan delivers a surface-level narrative that belies a deep disinterest in the patterns that make superhero stories so effective. It is an extreme anti-climax to the story started 19 years ago.
Glass desperately wants to be deconstructive but doesn’t really engage with anything from comics or comics culture besides surface-level plot beats. A shame. After two decades, it’s probably time for someone to break these stories down and explore how they work. Other have tried; Zack Snyder’s DCEU movies come to mind, but those had the same problem as Glass, never understanding the genre enough to break it. Withholding catharsis is not the same as exploring why the violent fantasies of men and women in Spandex resonate so effectively.
Like Snyder’s DCEU movies, Glass does deserve some respect for trying. Not enough to say it’s worth rushing out for. Shyamalan’s loosely written, often plodding tale isn’t worth the extended runtime it asks. But in the grand scheme of superhero cinema, maybe its mere existence will help further a different auteur who wants to approach heroes from a new perspective. The box-office success certainly proved a potential small, but present, audience.
Special features on Glass are actually pretty substantial, with short documentaries focusing on stunts, writing, actors and production. One gets the impression Shyamalan runs a tight ship full of filmmakers, cast and crew who have followed him for decades. There are always layers of promotional posturing in special features but some of this comes across as genuine. Shyamalan’s commentary on the film is a fascinating example of disassociation, where the level of consideration and thought he describes while making the film simply doesn’t match the actual finished product on screen.