SPOILER WARNING: The following article contains massive spoilers for The Invisible Man. If you have not yet seen the film, please proceed at your own risk!
With 2020’s The Invisible Man, writer/director Leigh Whannell takes a whole new approach to the classic horror/science-fiction story from H. G. Wells. Far beyond just modernizing the setting, the new take delivers a completely different protagonist with Elisabeth Moss’ Cecilia Kass being tortured by Oliver Jackson Cohen’s Adrian Griffin – her optics genius ex-husband who can’t handle her rejection. It’s an excellent, reinvented plot that is exciting all the way through – up to and including its thrilling ending.
So what exactly goes down? What really happens to Adrian Griffin? What does it mean for a potential sequel? We’re here to answer all of those questions and more in this Invisible Man ending analysis feature, so without further ado, let’s dig in!
What Happens At The End Of The Invisible Man
The Invisible Man begins its descent into its conclusion following one final attack by the titular villain inside the home of James Lanier (Aldis Hodge) and his daughter Sydney (Storm Reid) … but it turns out not to be what audiences are expecting. When the suit-wearing stalker is shot and killed, removing his mask reveals that it wasn’t Adrian trying to attack the Laniers and Cecilia, but instead his brother Tom (Michael Dorman).
A news report on television suggests that it was actually Tom who was responsible for Cecilia being terrorized, as Adrian is discovered bound and gagged inside the walls of his house. However, while we do know that Tom was working with his sibling, Cecilia is in no way convinced of Adrian’s innocence. She can’t move on until there is justice, so she devises a plan.
Wearing a wire, and with James surreptitiously posted outside in his car, Cecilia agrees to have dinner with Adrian at his house, and every step of the way he attempts to act both sincere and apologetic about his past behavior. Sitting in the living room he discusses the idea of a fresh start, while simultaneously refusing to admit to her that he had orchestrated his own fake suicide and had been using his special optics technology to psychologically torture/gaslight her.
Cecilia is insistent that he tell her the truth, and recognizing that he doesn’t really have much of a choice, Adrian essentially agrees in the most sly way possible. Approaching her side of the table, he makes reference to how their future lives together will feature “surprises” along the way – which is a nod to the single word text that he sent her when he was supposed to be dead.
It’s not quite enough of a confession for the cop outside to enter the home, arrest Adrian, and bring him up on a myriad of charges, but Cecilia gets a degree of satisfaction in her tormentor admitting to her that she hasn’t lost her mind. She excuses herself from the room, and her former husband is left alone at the dinner table thinking that he has won, seen through one of his home’s many security cameras.
In a flash, though, we recognize that he hasn’t. Similar to how Adrian murdered Cecilia’s sister Alice (Harriet Dyer) by slitting her throat in a restaurant, we only have a second to register the knife floating next to the psychopathic narcissist’s shoulder before its blade is gently sliding across his throat and letting a stream of blood flow down his chest.
Stepping out of range of the security camera and taking off her invisible suit, Cecilia begins to put on an act for the recording device that is attached to her, and she calls the police to inform them that Adrian has committed suicide. Her revenge is complete.
Her business completed, Cecilia walks out of the house and encounters James outside – who comes to the understanding that he has been used as a pawn in his friend’s final move against her deranged ex-husband. With her new invisible suit stored in her bag, our protagonist leaves the scene of the crime, prepared to start a whole new life for herself with the aid of some nifty technology.
What Really Happened To Adrian Griffin?
In case this hasn't been made abundantly clear just yet, Adrian Griffin was a seriously bad dude. Sure, he was a genius in the field of optics, and he was able to invent some remarkable technology, but his motivations were far from moral, and he was an even worse human being on a personal level than he was professionally. He kept Cecilia as a prisoner in their marriage because of a need to exert control over her, and his actions following her departure came as a result of his massive ego being unable to fathom a person he dominates escaping his grasp.
Adrian openly threatened Cecilia that should she ever leave him, he would be able to stalk and haunt her without her ever seeing him, and he very much made good on that promise. Using his incredible resources, and having his brother as an accomplice, the psychopathic inventor successfully faked his own suicide, and used it as an alibi to literally disappear. Finding out that his estranged wife was living with James and Sydney, he made a nest for himself in the attic of the house, and used it as a base of operations for gaslighting Cecilia.
As we learn late in the second act of the movie, however, Adrian's goal isn't simply to try and drive our protagonist crazy. His real ambition is to be a father, and while she doesn't know it, Cecilia is pregnant with his child. Working with Tom, he sets up the will with the mental incompetence/felony clause and frames his abuse victim for murder, all in the pursuit of getting her to return to him and give birth to his progeny.
Of course, it's not a plan that pans out even after Adrian throws his brother under the bus and is "rescued" from kidnapping himself. He severely underestimates Cecilia, and he pays the ultimate price for it.
Could We See An Invisible Man Sequel?
The plan that currently for the Universal Classic Monsters going forward is definitely not the same approach that was being taken a few years ago. Back in 2017 there was a plan to create a large-scale interconnected franchise with the movies called the Dark Universe – but those ambitions completely fell apart when The Mummy starring Tom Cruise wound up being a box office bomb. Now the goal for the brand is to simply make standalone projects motivated by interesting takes from talented filmmakers, hence Leigh Whannell's The Invisible Man... but what's unclear at this stage is how the current strategy is going to take sequels into consideration.
Given that the film ends with Cecilia Kass having a chance at a fresh start and in possession of a suit that makes her invisible, there is plenty of material that could be molded into a follow-up story... but at present we're not actually sure if that's an idea that is in the realm of possibility. Not only is it unclear how sequels might fit into Universal Pictures' future plans, but it's also currently unknown if the movie will make enough money to justify the investment in another one.
We'll be patiently waiting for updates in the coming weeks and months regarding this question, but there is one thing that we know for certain: Elisabeth Moss would absolutely be interested in coming back and reprising the role:
During the Los Angeles press day for The Invisible Man (prior to the film's theatrical release), I had the wonderful opportunity to sit down with Elisabeth Moss to talk about the project, and one subject that we covered was the possibility of exploring Cecilia Kass further in another movie. Moss is certainly no stranger to serialized storytelling and reprising roles, having spent her career making shows like The West Wing, Mad Men, and The Handmaid's Tale, and she expressed real enthusiasm about the possibility of telling another story involving horror and invisibility suits.
While acknowledging that it's not really her say whether or not there is an Invisible Man sequel, Elisabeth Moss said,
It should be noted that there is an interesting complication here. Given the events that transpire in The Invisible Man's ending, you'd think that the natural sequel title would be The Invisible Woman... but the problem with this is that Universal Pictures is already developing a totally different project with that title. In November 2019 it was reported that Elizabeth Banks is set to direct and star in a film titled The Invisible Woman, and apparently that project has absolutely nothing to do with the film made by Leigh Whannell (similar to how James Whale's 1933 Invisible Man is completely separate from A. Edward Sutherland's The Invisible Woman in 1940 – which was a screwball comedy instead of a horror flick).
With no firm answers available just yet, for now we just play the waiting game as Universal examines the box office performance of The Invisible Man and weighs the potential of a follow-up, while also continuing to develop making other films based on the Universal Classic Monsters.
What did you think of the ending of The Invisible Man? Would you like to see a sequel get made? Hit your thoughts, feelings, and opinions in the comments section, and stay tuned here on CinemaBlend for more of our coverage of the exciting new film!
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Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.