Hot off of the critical and commercial success of Split, M. Night Shyamalan has announced plans to develop a sequel to his low-fi superhero drama Unbreakable. Bruce Willis is expected to return with recent events in mind.
WARNING: This article contains spoilers for the ending of Split, as well as the ending to the original Unbreakable. Proceed at your own discretion.
Unbreakable was released in 2000, right after Shyamalan’s breakthrough hit The Sixth Sense, but right before the superhero movie genre really took off. The film revolved around security guard David Dunn (Bruce Willis) discovering that he’s invulnerable and has super-strength, along with the psychological implications that having this knowledge would bring to a person. He is guided to become a superhero by Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson), who he later discovers has used his own powers to kill people in an effort to find someone who would give his life purpose. Price is sent to an insane asylum for his crimes shortly after Dunn rescues a kidnapped family.
Split tells a similar story, this time about the rise of a supervillain. Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a zookeeper, has developed multiple split personalities following a series of traumatic experiences, the last of which manifests as a superhuman berserker. Given the moniker of “the Horde” after a series of grisly murders and one of his victims escaping, Kevin decides to use his power to reshape his world in a way that he sees fit. The story is picked up by the media, and in the film’s final scene, we hear a group of people discuss how the incident reminds them of a similar incident that happened fifteen years ago… at which point David Dunn makes an appearance, revealing that Split and Unbreakable are both set in the same continuity.
While the original Unbreakable lent itself to the idea of a sequel, M. Night Shyamalan decided that he was more interested in developing original ideas rather than sequels. In a recent interview with USA Today, he explained why he revisited the concept of a grounded superhero movie with Split and why he’s up for making a direct sequel to Unbreakable now:
“When we were making [Split], it had to work as its own movie, which is a difficult task… You’re basically creating muscles that are for the other genre and yet they have to exist in the psychological thriller genre.”
“[Bruce Willis] was all in the second I asked him. People who saw it early were like, ‘You know what? This really reminds me of Unbreakable.’ And I’m like, ‘Really, that’s interesting.’ When they see the movie, they’ll be like, ‘I knew it!’ Maybe they’ll even think they gave me the idea.”
M. Night Shyamalan has noted that while he has plans for a different project, he also wants to give the Unbreakable/Split story a proper conclusion, so it will most likely come first. He describes the project as being “big”, suggesting that it will be a larger-scale project than either of its two predecessors. He has a ten-page outline for the project. Given the secrecy of Split being a sequel until now, the interviewers asked if this project would also be kept secret, to which he joked:
“No one’s going to trust me about anything anymore! But I think we’ll be open about this one. I’ll want everyone to know this is the end, the conclusion.”
Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson have both wanted to do an Unbreakable sequel for years, and given that the former cameoed at the end of Split, it’s likely that they’ll finally get their chance. It’s unclear if James McAvoy will also be a part of the sequel, although the ending to Split certainly raises the possibility that Dunn could be going after the Horde. Given that M. Night Shyamalan is collectively describing Unbreakable, Split, and the next project in the series as a trilogy, it seems as though the last movie would be best suited for showing such a crossover.
Source: USA Today