Why Unbreakable Wasn't Ever Billed As A Comic Book Movie

Mr Glass in the comic book store

Before comic book movies became the most popular genre in the filmmaking world, M. Night Shyamalan was already putting his own spin on the genre. 2000's Unbreakable is one of Shyamalan's early hits, and was a dark, gritty, and ultra-realistic dive into superheroics with Bruce Willis' David Dunn and Samuel L. Jackson's Mr. Glass. And those two characters are set to return to the silver screen with the crossover film Glass.

Unbreakable is sometimes forgotten within the superhero genre, since the movie is nothing like it peers. M. Night Shyamalan recently spoke about the upcoming release of Glass, and why Unbreakable was never billed as a superhero flick, saying:

Being totally honest. At that time, Disney felt that we couldn't sell it as a comic-book movie because they felt that nobody would come to a comic book film. They felt that this is not a subject matter that you would get a wide audience for. [Comic book films are] for weird people at conventions and things like that. After the success of The Sixth Sense, they wanted to just sell [Unbreakable] as a thriller. I was like 'OK, but I think this is a cool idea that would really ground it.' It might be a dismissible subject, but treating it as an embellished version of the truth is where the real appeal for it lies.

While the superhero genre is one that sends moviegoers into a frenzy nowadays, that wasn't the case back in 2000. And with M. Night Shyamalan becoming a household name with the terrifying Sixth Sense, it stands to reason that the marketing for Unbreakable would focus on the more thriller aspects of the acclaimed drama.

M. Night Shyamalan's comments to Joe.Ie show how much the film world has changed in the past 18 years. Bryan Singer's X-Men franchise was starting around the same time as Unbreakable, and superhero movies weren't proven as viable moneymaking strategy. As such, David Dunn's superhero origin story wasn't billed as such. It's only through seeing the film that the connection to comic books becomes evident.

When Split arrived in theaters in 2016, the marketing seemingly took a page out of Unbreakable's book. Billed as a standard psychological thriller, Split told a contained story about James McAvoy's Kevin, and the myriad personalities that occupied his mind-- one of which is a superpowered creature known as The Beast. But the final scene of the film included a cameo by Bruce Willis, revealing it was set in the same universe as Unbreakable.

Glass has been teased a super exciting blockbuster, as the trio James McAvoy, Samuel L. Jackson, and Bruce Willis' characters collide in a psychiatric facility under the care of Sarah Paulson's newcomer Dr. Ellie Staple. But M. Night Shyamalan revealed that most of the film's contents weren't included in the trailers, so we should expect the unexpected.

Glass will arrive in theaters on January 18th. In the meantime, check out our 2019 release list to plan your next trip to the movies.

Corey Chichizola
Movies Editor

Corey was born and raised in New Jersey. Graduated with degrees theater and literature from Ramapo College of New Jersey. After working in administrative theater for a year in New York, he started as the Weekend Editor at CinemaBlend. He's since been able to work himself up to reviews, phoners, and press junkets-- and is now able to appear on camera with some of his favorite actors... just not as he would have predicted as a kid. He's particularly proud of covering horror franchises like Scream and Halloween, as well as movie musicals like West Side Story. Favorite interviews include Steven Spielberg, Spike Lee, Jamie Lee Curtis, and more.