Those who waited for an Unbreakable sequel finally got their wish nearly two decades later, as earlier this month, Glass, which also followed the events of Split, hit theaters. Just like Unbreakable, Glass put its own spin on comic book storytelling, which has become much more prominent in Hollywood in the years since Unbreakable came out. So naturally there familiarity in Glass for people who’ve been following superheroes, and writer/director M. Night Shyalmalan believes familiarity is the key to a sequel to succeeding nowadays. In his words:
Audiences need familiarity right now in a very unique way. In the ’90s, we didn’t need that – you could barely get a sequel made. But now, everything is a sequel or a reboot. It’s a cultural thing. People want to feel connected, and they want to feel safety. They want to know what they can expect. Framing is really important to them right now. And maybe that will change, and we’ll move back to original movies. And comic books are stories about the power of regular people saving us, becoming gods amongst us. How titillating is that? Something I touch on very tacitly in the movie, is that these are the opposite of the stories of powers outside of us. And that obviously appeals to audiences right now.
Re-telling stories has been part of moviemaking since the beginning, but nowadays reboots, remakes, sequels, prequels, etc, have definitely become more prominent, which is what M. Night Shyamalan brought up during his interview with Hot Press. In his mind, audiences crave that feeling of connection and safety, which comic book stories in particular provide. But whether it’s a tale about people with special powers or just a general follow-up to a previous movie, Shyamalan believes that “familiar” feeling is crucial to deliver a cinematic product audiences will like.
While Glass received mixed-to-negative reception from critics overall, its commercial performance certainly strengthens M. Night Shyamalan’s argument. Made off a $20 million budget, the Eastrail Trilogy 177 capper has made over $166 million worldwide, although Unbreakable and Split still have it beat monetarily. In any case, Shyamalan has already ruled out Glass getting a sequel, so we won’t learn what happens after the threequel’s ending. In fact, Shyamalan isn’t working on a follow-up to any of his preexisting stories, because he wants to give moviegoers another “original thriller.”
As far as sequels in general go this year, once again, there won’t be any shortage of those to enjoy. From Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far From Home to IT: Chapter 2 and Frozen 2, audiences will be getting that familiarity that M. Night Shyamalan talked about, while the former two examples are, needless to say, filling the comic book movie void quite nicely amongst the other genre offerings.