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SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains absolutely massive spoilers for M. Night Shyamalan's Split. If you have not yet seen the film, and don't wish to know any details about the movie, please bookmark this link and return to this feature after your screening!
The year 2017 is still incredibly young, but audiences have already been delivered an amazing cinematic surprise. While M. Night Shyamalan's Split came to theaters pretending to be just an original kidnapping thriller following a man with Dissociative Identity Disorder, it turns out that movie is secretly a follow-up to Shyamalan's 2000 hit Unbreakable. This is an element revealed in the final moments of the film, as Bruce Willis makes a cameo as David Dunn. Naturally, the big question coming out of the film is if Shyamalan will follow-up with another chapter in the Unbreakable/Split series, and we're here to deliver some great news: it's definitely something the writer/director wants to do.
I first got to see Split at its Los Angeles premiere at AFI Fest last November, and the morning after had the immense pleasure of talking about the film with M. Night Shyamalan. It was at the very end of our conversation that I hit him with the big question, asking him if he has plans to make a movie that will have Bruce Willis' David Dunn and James McAvoy's Kevin Wendell Crumb square off in a superhero versus supervillain battle. He couldn't be entirely definitive with his answer, but Shyamalan definitely did make his intentions very clear. Said the filmmaker,
Here's what I'll say. I want to promise a yes, but only the demons in the room with me when I get to myself alone and start writing [can answer]. That's the only reason I can't promise. That is my intention.
So there you have it. What is now standing between us and the next chapter in the Unbreakable franchise is M. Night Shyamalan sitting in a room and just figuring out exactly what he wants to do with a David Dunn/Kevin Wendell Crumb movie. Thus far he has given us both a superhero origin story, and a supervillain origin story, and now he has to come up with a few clever and creative ideas that let the leads go toe-to-toe within the rules of the universe that has been established. As fans of both Unbreakable and Split, we are wishing him the best of luck in these efforts.
One element that is certainly available to play with in a Split follow-up are the many personalities of Kevin Wendell Crumb that never make their way on screen. In total, audiences watch James McAvoy play a total of eight distinct personalities in the film (Kevin, Barry, Dennis, Patricia, Hedwig, Jade, Orwell, and The Beast), but that is only a third of the 24 identities that we know exist. M. Night Shyamalan teases us with the files on Kevin's computer, providing the names of all the personalities -- but they aren't fully formed yet. Instead, he is hoping that he can use Unbreakable 3 as a vehicle for more of these characters to appear. Talking about working with McAvoy on all of the details of the part, Shyamalan told me,
We definitely went very specifically on the eight that you saw, and then the theory is that maybe you'll see some more. [laughter] I kind of gave you the template of the screen, to go, 'And this is the whole family!'... I only did the ones you saw, because I have to write those guys. You go, 'Oh, maybe she or he is this.' It's so fun. That's the fun part. I get to write so many new personalities, hopefully someday.
As a newly-formed franchise, the Unbreakable universe is two-for-two so far, establishing an interesting world full of superhumans with incredible abilities. Right now we don't know when we will be getting the next chapter in the series, but hopefully it is something that will come together soon, as fans of Split and Unbreakable are going to want to see James McAvoy and Bruce Willis battle as soon as possible.