Glass: International trailer suggests brilliant deconstruction of superhero genre

M. Night Shyamalan's Glass is coming to take apart every convention of superhero films.

The new international trailer for the upcoming flick is lighter on action than previous spots, but much more suggestive of its intention to deconstruct every aspect of the most commercially successful film genre of the modern age. It appeared this morning on the Glass Movie International YouTube page.

The trailer prominently features Sarah Paulson's Dr. Ellie Staple, the psychiatrist whose charges include Kevin Wendell Crumb AKA The Horde (James McAvoy), Elijah Price AKA Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) and the indestructible David Dunn (Bruce Willis). As it opens, we see brief shots of the three characters on lockdown in the psychiatric institution where they currently reside, as Mr. Glass intones in a voiceover: "Belief in one's self is contagious. We are part of something larger… we are fighting for the broken."

We then see Dr. Staple confronting the trio, as she begins to dig at the edges of their "delusions" — which, as we in the audience are supremely aware, are not delusions at all. "I specialize in those individuals who believe they are supernatural beings," she says. "David Dunn — you believe you are exceptionally strong, but there are men who are as strong as you." Her assertion is intercut with a quick series of shots demonstrating definitively that this is, in a word, baloney.

"Kevin Wendell Crumb," she continues, "you believe there are two dozen souls living in that body with you." As anyone who has seen Split can confirm, Crumb is absolutely correct, and one of those souls — referred to only as "The Beast" — is not only supernaturally strong and durable, but also terrifyingly wrathful and cannibalistic.

Dr. Staple then arrives at the title character. "Elijah Price. You have an extraordinary I.Q. You think you are superhuman… what if I suggested that you are mistaken?" We then see the wheelchair-bound Mr. Glass wheeling himself around a corner in a dark corridor, as he says in a voiceover: "They've been lying to us all." Mr. Glass is then seen marveling at a completely nude Crumb crawling on a wall like Spider-Man, before counseling his villainous protege. "You were sent here to be an avenging angel," he says. "How much do you want to avenge us?" Judging by Crumb's reaction, the answer is plain: very, very much.

A series of quick shots then tease Crumb's and Dunn's abilities along with a few interesting plot developments (most notably, Crumb is seen embracing Anya Taylor-Joy's Casey Cooke, the sole survivor of his rampage from Split) before returning to Mr. Glass in the corridors of the institution. As he is confronted by an orderly, he tells the hapless man, "This is where they would paint you with big eyes and bubbles of confusion above your head," as Crumb descends unseen from the ceiling in the background. The man turns around just a bit too late to avoid what is almost certainly a grim fate.

The line confirms that Shyamalan intends to conclude to the complete deconstruction of the superhero genre which he began with 2000's Unbreakable, and continued in stealth mode with 2017's Split (which didn't reveal itself to be a continuation of Unbreakable's story until the very end). The first film was released by Disney's Touchstone Pictures imprint, and the House of Mouse famously wouldn't allow it to be promoted as a superhero film, believing such trifles to be box office poison — an idea which, of course, seems absurd today. But no less an authority than Quentin Tarantino has called Unbreakable a masterpiece of the genre, saying, "It… is a brilliant retelling of the Superman mythology, in fact so much so that to me the film was very obscure when it came out as far as what it was about.  I… think they did themselves a disservice because you can actually break down what the film is about by… one sentence that I think would prove far more intriguing than their ad campaign. Which is basically, 'What if Superman was here on earth and didn't know he was Superman?' which is what the film is about."

In an era when superhero blockbusters are all the rage, Glass promises to flip the genre on its head by grounding its narrative in a real-world setting, shot through with Shyamalan's trademark touches of psychological horror, to explore the ramifications of the existence of superpowered individuals in a way that no Marvel or DC offering has yet accomplished. The film's official synopsis states: "Following the conclusion of Split, Glass finds Dunn pursuing Crumb's superhuman figure of The Beast in a series of escalating encounters, while the shadowy presence of Price emerges as an orchestrator who holds secrets critical to both men."

It would be difficult to overstate just how pumped we are for this picture. In a year shaping up to be packed with incredible releases, Glass looks to be a standout, and we don't have long to wait for it; the flick hits theaters on January 18, 2019.