Shyamalan and Lucas Comparisons
The similarities between Shyamalan and Lucas don't stop there; their career arcs are fairly common. Lucas was a maverick who burst on to the scene with American Graffiti (earning him a Best Director nomination) and then went on to redefine the movie industry with Star Wars. The galaxy far, far away changed just about everything in the film industry, and Lucas was showered with more praise and accolades. Shyamalan was also a wunderkind, crowned by Newsweek as "The Next Spielberg" following The Sixth Sense (which was a major Oscar contender in 1999) Unbreakable, and Signs. But as anyone familiar with this story knows, things quickly went off track.
Lucas quickly became jaded regarding what drew people to Star Wars and soured his relationship with Kurtz as a result. He was convinced audiences only cared about the spectacle and action rather than the story, and many of the creative decisions he made in the years after (beginning with Return of the Jedi) reflect that. A case can also be made Lucas surrounded himself with yes men who wouldn't challenge his vision for the prequels, which ended up harming his reputation as an artist. Shyamalan arguably took things a step further and really let ego derail his once-promising career (see: Lady in the Water). He ended up having to self-finance The Visit, Split, and Glass partially because studios were afraid to invest in his movies and he wanted to maintain full creative control. Glass is most definitely a work of its odd auteur, and while there's something to admire about that, that's not an entirely good thing, either.
Glass' Star Wars Comparison Isn't Bad
Admittedly, being compared to the Star Wars prequels is not exactly ideal for a movie, but a closer analysis shows it's not all bad. In the years since Lucas' last trilogy was released, the prequels have seen their reputation improve, with many people being able to see past the faults and appreciate what Lucas was attempting with them. The films' most die-hard supporters wouldn't claim they're perfect works of art, but decades removed from the hype and anticipation, the prequels can prove to be rewarding viewing experiences thanks to their contributions to the overall Star Wars mythology and advances in filmmaking technology. Even Disney's modern Star Wars movies are indebted to some of Lucas' prequel concepts, with The Last Jedi basing Luke's characterization (in part) on events from the prequels and Solo brining Maul back to live-action.
Related: Reviews Are Being Too Hard On Glass
Perhaps time will be kinder to Glass as well. Already, there's a noticeable audience/critic divide (look at the Rotten Tomatoes ratings), indicating that most moviegoers were onboard with what they saw. That's an encouraging sign, as it means people are willing to give Glass a chance despite the poor word-of-mouth. And to be fair to Shyamalan, this is far from his worst outing as a director. Glass disappointed some and failed to stick the landing in the finale, but it's by no means another Last Airbender or After Earth. Shyamalan is very much working in his wheelhouse of small-scale, character-driven drama, playing up the psychological aspects in service of a fascinating story. In an era where Hollywood churns out one comic book adaptation after another, seeing something that represents the very antithesis of the superhero blockbuster is admirable, and film buffs should be able to appreciate the ambition of an auteur - even if the direction the narrative takes are maddening at times. Once people have an opportunity to really dissect Glass, it may garner a passionate following a la Unbreakable nearly 20 years ago.
The initial frustrations over Glass and the Star Wars prequels are understandable. In both cases, fans of the two series spent a prolonged period of time dreaming of what the films could be like and may have been caught off guard when the delivered product didn't match expectations or took some unconventional routes to reach its conclusion. It's incredibly rare for any highly-anticipated movie to live up to the demands of viewers, especially when a decade or more has passed between installments. It took a while, but Star Wars fans (at least some of them) came around on the prequels and now accept their place in the franchise canon. Shyamalan can only hope his supporters give Glass another shot and embrace the peculiar and different film he crafted.