After a series of rough missteps like The Happening, After Earth, and The Last Airbender, it's good to be M. Night Shyamalan again. The thriller master got back on track with his low-budget film The Visit, then found a massive hit in Split, which turned out to be a back door sequel to Unbreakable. Now, all of those elements will converge in Glass, but don't expect Shyamalan to go the route of the cinematic universe.
Glass, which hits theaters later this month, will merge the worlds of Unbreakable and Split into a story of heroes and villains, as David Dunn (Bruce Willis) faces off against the multiple personalities of the being now known as the Horde (James McAvoy) and his old nemesis Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson). It's a film many Shyamalan fans didn't even know they wanted, let alone that they were getting, just three years ago, and now it's about to be real.
Speaking to Vulture about the genesis of the film, Shyamalan expounded at length on the virtues of working with a low budget and keeping a tight control on his own storytelling, so that the success of Split eventually allowed to make the "Avengers for nothing" that is Glass, a relatively low-budget team-up film that still carries the weight of a tentpole mash-up. We don't yet know what twists and turns await us in Glass' runtime, but one thing Shyamalan definitely doesn't seem interested in is keeping the story going beyond that, though he acknowledges that "it could."
"Yeah, but that’s not interesting to me," Shyamalan said. "There’s no danger in that. Or not enough danger, let’s say that."
When pressed on why he doesn't want to keep building this universe with sequel upon sequel, showing us even more showdowns between David Dunn and its various villains, Shyamalan's answer basically boiled down to a matter of style.
"For me, my weapon isn’t matching pyrotechnics against pyrotechnics. I’m just not good at it! I just can’t — Avengers and movies like that — I mean, I don’t even know how they do these things," he said.
The interviewer continued, noting the significant box office success of Split and the potential Glass has to be even bigger, but Shyamalan was steadfast.
"I have the sequel rights to most of my movies, essentially for the reason to not do them," he said.
So, what exactly is next? Well, throughout his conversation with Vulture (which is well worth reading), Shyamalan talked about his long, up-and-down relationships with both failure and success. For him, success can be "confusing," because it creates the illusion of control, while failure can be "cleansing" because it offers a clean slate. No matter which side Glass falls on, he wants the experience of the blank page again.
"For example, whatever happens with Glass, good or bad, I just want to go back to the blank piece of paper again and feel a connection to whatever the next idea is. When no one is calling you, it helps you do that."
Glass is in theaters Jan.18.