Face-Off – Glass is already the most over-hyped project in Hollywood

The first Glass trailer is causing all manner of buzz coming out of Comic-Con. But is everyone getting a little bit over-excited? Here, I debate this movie’s runaway hype train with Patrick Wilson – host of the Popcorn Muncher Podcast…

Samuel L Jackson and James McAvoy share the screen in the Glass trailer
Samuel L Jackson and James McAvoy share the screen in the Glass trailer

Tom: “The Glass hype is ridiculous”

There’s a lot I don’t understand about Film Twitter. It’s a world currently tearing itself apart with glee over a new Mamma Mia movie and a world in which Neill Blomkamp went from future giant of sci-fi to talentless hack in the space of one film about a charmingly-named robot. The latest baffling event in the online film community is the ridiculous hype train for GlassM Night Shyamalan‘s sequel to Unbreakable and Split.

Cards on the table, here. I haven’t seen Unbreakable. With that said, I was saddened and infuriated by the final scene of Split. It sees Bruce Willis appear as David Dunn from Unbreakable, making reference to Samuel L Jackson‘s Mr Glass and drawing the two movies together ahead of their shared sequel. As references go, it was one that, through its use of an A-list actor, essentially sounded a deafening siren declaring “YOU SHOULD GET THIS” – leaving a sour taste in the mouth of anyone who didn’t understand the reference. At the end of an entertaining standalone horror movie, it was a sad and distracting moment of unnecessary shared universe building. And Hollywood has never been guilty of that before, right?

People loved it, though, and the only thing they love more than it is the new trailer for Glass, which debuted at Comic-Con yesterday. The Hollywood Reporter wrote that the trailer “worked the crowd into a frenzy” in Hall H and a quick flick through the #GlassMovie hashtag on Twitter suggests that fans are expecting this film to be something uniquely wonderful.

It might well be good. It might well even be great. However, the hype is ridiculous. Nobody had talked or even thought about Unbreakable in the 15 years between its release and its evocation in Split. However, it is now being held up as an innovative and significant superhero movie, as if its years of obscurity never happened. It’s a mark of Shyamalan’s cult of personality – auteur genius to most overrated filmmaker ever to auteur genius again – that he has somehow managed to turn two non-mainstream genre movies into a blockbuster big enough to wow Hall H – home of Marvel’s A-list ensembles.

There’s a clear divide here. There are those who left Split full of smug excitement about its reference to a largely forgotten noughties thriller, and there are those wondering what on Earth is happening. I’m definitely in the latter camp. There’s no Shyamalan twist here.

Patrick: “It’s great that Shyamalan is getting people excited again”

Let’s be honest. Shyamalan is not and never was the next Steven Spielberg. It’s taken a while and a nudge by Blumhouse for him to realise he is great at schlocky cinema. However, a man with enough ego to only direct movies he has also written was inevitably going to end up with Glass.

Bringing backing the characters from one of his early successes and combining them with a new success is such an egotistical move that I can’t help but be enamoured with the idea. I think the literal absurdity of this project is part of the hype. A director once touted as the next maestro of our time is having a career resurgence by dredging up his old material to get in on the superhero trend? I’m sold.

I see nothing wrong with the way this has been implemented either. The Unbreakable scene in Split comes after the narrative has reached its conclusion, as a nice bonus for those that know and a bit of fun sequel-bait for those who don’t. Compare that to Solo – a movie so desperately eager to universe build that it derails its entire third act. If a Shyamalan twist is supposed to shock and elevate a production, then this is a good example of using it in a smarter way.

I agree some are being hyperbolic about Unbreakable but it’s worth remembering it was a huge success at the time that has been overshadowed in the history books by the success of The Sixth Sense. It really was those two movies that made Shyamalan one to watch and Unbreakable‘s characters stand out. Throw in 20 different James McAvoy personas and it’s hard not to be excited.

Finally, I think it’s great that Shyamalan has found something that gets people excited again. After years of middling affairs and angering the passionate fanbase of the Avatar series with The Last Airbender, he has managed to create a project that wowed Comic-Con, and he has got to this point with movies that audiences and critics genuinely like. Glass is an egotistical idea, it’s a nutty idea, it might even be a bad idea; but it is going to be a fun ride.

James McAvoy takes on multiple roles in M Night Shyamalan thriller Split
James McAvoy takes on multiple roles in M Night Shyamalan thriller Split

Glass will arrive in UK cinemas on January 18, 2019.

How do you feel about Glass? Are you firmly aboard the hype train or do you think it has already got a little bit out of hand? Choose your side in the comments section.

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