James McAvoy Split - Bruce Willis Unbreakable
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Credit: Universal Pictures/Buena Vista Pictures

James McAvoy's Split character was originally supposed to fight Bruce Willis in Unbreakable

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Dec 27, 2018, 12:12 PM EST

M. Night Shyamalan proved that he was still the king of movie twists when he revealed that Split was set in the same universe as 2000's Unbreakable, effectively creating his own superhero cinematic universe nearly 20 years later.

While Bruce Willis' David Dunn will face off against James McAvoy's Kevin Wendell Crumb in Glass (out January 18), his character was actually meant to meet the man with two dozen personalities a lot sooner. Speaking with Empire Magazine for the 2019 preview issue, Shyamalan talked about how Crumb was originally in the script for Unbreakable

"I couldn't get the balance right," he said. "It just kept wanting to eat away at the movie. So I pulled Kevin out. I wanted a really slow-burn movie, and Kevin's not a slow burn."

Luckily, ol' Kevin was not dead, but in a state of suspended animation. Once the filmmaker proved (via The Visit) that he wasn't out for the count after flops like The Happening and After Earth, he revisited the idea in one of his creative diaries. And so, Split was born, setting up the playing field for Glass, which brings Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah Price, brittle-boned super genius, back into the mix as well. 

The first 20 minutes of the film center around an older Dunn, who is still fighting crime as a superhero. This do-goodery brings him face-to-face with Crumb's Beast (Kevin's super-strong/super-invincible 24th personality), a sequence that Shyamalan likens to the opening of a James Bond movie.

Sadly, Dunn and Crumb get chucked into an insane asylum, placed under the supervision of Sarah Paulson's Dr. Ellie Staple, a psychiatrist that is skeptical about the idea of bona fide super powers. Based on the trailers, Price (also grey-haired) forms an alliance with the Beast in an effort to show the world that heroes and villains aren't just exclusive to comic books. In the end, it was an excellent oppurtunity for Shyamalan to subvert a Jack Nicholson classic.

"What if I did a comic book version of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest?" the director added. "How cool would that be? How weird and cool?"

Less than a month away from release, Deadline estimates that Glass could make around $75 million or more during its debut over the four-day MLK weekend.