Was This M. Night Shaymalan's Plan All Along?
By his own admittance, M. Night Shyamalan originally planned for David Dunn to fight Kevin Crumb in Unbreakable, but it was the adult version of the Beast. Had Unbreakable encompassed the full arc of a superhero movie and not just the origin story, the third act would have essentially been what Split became: Kevin would have kidnapped three teenage girls like he does to Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy) and her friends, David would have learned about it, and set off to save the girls and fight Kevin (this would have probably replaced Unbreakable's climactic fight between David and the Man in the Orange Jumpsuit).
Night scaled down Unbreakable's scope to protect the integrity of the story he really wanted to tell, which was the intimate study of a man who learns he's super and how it impacts his relationship with his family. However, the director clearly held onto Kevin Crumb and saw the potential for the future. He brilliantly expanded Unbreakable's universe with Split while maintaining the secret that Split was a sequel to the earlier film but set 17 years later. The new magic trick Shyamalan looks to have pulled by telling the story of an adult Kevin almost two decades later is how Kevin would now have to be a child when Unbreakable happened, but Night seemingly had the foresight to insert Kevin as a child in Unbreakable anyway, setting the stage for the sequel (which back in 2000 he wasn't sure would even get made).
With Split, Night told the third act of his original Unbreakable story and tied it all together with his trademark "twist" ending which opened the door to the third film, Glass. But in hindsight, the clues were there all along, starting with Split's Philadelphia setting (which is where many of Shyamalan's films are set) and Kevin visiting the train with flowers, which seems to be a callback to Unbreakable's train crash. It appears the Eastrail 177 train crash narratively ties everything together, which puts the focus back on Mr. Glass in the third film.
What Kevin Crumb And David Dunn's Shared Origin Means For Glass
There's a moment in Glass' trailer that shows David Dunn passing Kevin Crumb on the street and he senses the Beast's malevolence - this echoes the scene in Unbreakable where a similar thing happens when Dunn collides with the people who could be the young Kevin and his mother. It is even shot by Shyamalan in a similar way, which ties the two moments together and establishes this has happened before in the past. After all, once David accepts his destiny in Unbreakable, Mr. Glass' twist was that the superhero needs a super-villain. Elijah Price is the mastermind antagonist but he lamentably can't physically fight David Dunn - the Beast can.
The key then becomes Mr. Glass causing the Eastrail 177 train accident. That tragedy didn't create David Dunn because David was born special but denied his true abilities for most of his life, but it revealed him to Elijah and led to David accepting who and what he is. But if our theory holds and Kevin Crumb's father died on Eastrail 177, then Mr. Glass also inadvertently created the Horde. Elijah Price becomes the reason Kevin grew up to be a super-villain, and thus Mr. Glass spawned the piece of the puzzle missing from David's superhero story: the villain he can physically fight who "requires David's full potential".
If Mr. Glass' train crash revealed David but also created the Beast, then M. Night Shyamalan ingeniously plotted his superhero shared universe over two decades and he intriguingly set the stage for "the bad guys teaming up" against David Dunn in Glass.
- Glass (2019) release date: Jan 18, 2019