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Glass comes 19 years after M. Night Syamalan's hit movie Unbreakable, and with it comes the return of several characters that we met the first time around. While a couple of those characters are pretty obvious (the movie is sort of about them), others are not nearly as clear. There are far more returning characters than you might realize.
What's more, in every case, the actor who played the part in Unbreakable has also returned to play the same part in Glass. It's a level of continuity that borders on obsessive, but really, with M. Night Shyamalan we shouldn't be surprised. Here's the rundown of everybody, big and small, who's back after two decades to finish the story.
Yes, there are a couple of characters who are obviously going to be on this list, and one of them is the guy the new movie is named after. Samuel L. Jackson's character from Unbreakable didn't get so much as a cameo in Split, so this is the first time we've seen him in 19 years. Of course, it turns out the reason he hasn't appeared again is that he's spent that time drugged up in an asylum.
Samuel L. Jackson was great in the original Unbreakable, playing the dual comic book roles of both mentor and villain. In Glass, he even sort of plays mentor again, this time to the various members of the Horde. He's also spent the last 19 years plotting, planning and becoming a comic book level diabolical mastermind. It's very on brand.
The other obvious inclusion from Unbreakable who is back for Glass also appeared in Split at the last minute, literally. David Dunn is the "superhero" of the story. He's a man who is seemingly invulnerable, except for an apparent weakness to water. He eventually discovers what his mentor, Elijah Price, has been up to in order to find super powered people, leading to the hero defeating his arch-nemesis.
In Glass we learn that David Dunn has continued to play part time hero, occasionally going out to walk the streets and look for bad guys. When The Beast finally gets loose, Dunn makes the decision to go after it/him. The collision is what leads to both of them being apprehended and put back into the same building with Mr. Glass
One of the hardest actors to recognize in Glass is probably Spencer Treat Clark. At 31 years of age now, he was all of 11 or 12 when he played Bruce Willis' son in the original Unbreakable. Clark has continued to be an actor since his early role, so there was no reason he could not reprise it in Glass.
In the new film, Joseph Dunn works alongside his father in the home security store they run, and he also acts as David's "guy in the chair" who assists his father with research and other information while dad is playing hero. Clark himself has admitted to being surprised he was cast in the new movie, but it's great to see him return.
Elijah Price's mother doesn't have a particularly large or memorable role in Unbreakable, but Charlayne Woodard does appear in the film. We learn that, through her son, she has an extensive understanding of how comic book mythology works. While it's unclear whether or not she realizes what her son has been doing, it's her words that eventually lead Unbreakable to its twist conclusion.
Charlayne Woodard is back once again in Glass and once again playing a woman much older than she actually is. She is still vaguely sympathetic to her son, regardless of what terrible things he does. She is a mother, after all. In the end, she, along, with Joseph Dunn and Casey, are the ones who bring the events of Glass to their conclusion, rather than the "superheroes."
Comic Book Clerk
And now we're really getting into the deep weeds. The last person you probably expected to be returning from Unbreakable was a guy who played the clerk at a comic book shop and only had a couple of lines. But, in fact, the guy who plays that role in Unbreakable is playing the exact same part in Glass.
The actor's name is Bostin Christopher, and in Unbreakable he's the guy who's afraid that Mr. Glass is having a bit too much fun with the Japanese comics. In Glass, we see Joseph Dunn is back at the same store looking for answers, and the exact same guy is giving him a hard time. This guy's been behind the counter of a comic book shop for almost 20 years. I really hope he owns the place.
M. Night Shyamalan took a cue from the great Alfred Hitchcock and and has put himself into all of the films that he has directed. However, more than simply appearing on screen, Shyamalan frequently gives himself something more to do. He appears in Unbreakable as a drug dealer, and then appears again as a customer in David Dunn's store in Glass.
However, rather than these simply being two cameos from the same actor, Shyamalan's character has dialogue that shows that he is actually playing the same character in both films. He recognizes David Dunn from his old security job and admits that he used to run with a bad crowd. We also learn that Shyamalan's character from Split is also the same man, making him and Bruce and Willis both characters who appear in all three films.
From lead actors to character actors to cameos, pretty much everybody who could have returned to make Glass did, making the world that M. Night Shyamalan created so consistent and thus that much more immersive. Having now grossed $100 million, it certainly appears that a lot of people have been enjoying that world, and while it looks like we may not visit it again, if we do, you can be sure the writer and director will do everything to make it keep feeling real.