Unbreakable is a 2000 neo-noir film by director M. Night Shyamalan starring Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson. It is the first in a trilogy that would feature Split (2017) and Glass (2019). Unbreakable‘s basic plot involves the main character, David (Willis), surviving a catastrophic train wreck with very few injuries, leading to his realization that he may be a superhero.
It Is Basically A Comic Book In Movie Form
1. Unbreakable is inspired by comic books and uses several devices that come directly from the comic-book genre. One such device is that the characters have aliases and color schemes. David’s color is green, and his aliases are “Security” and “Hero.” Elijah’s color is purple, and his alias is “Mr. Glass.”
2. In the scene where David meets Kelly on the train, she is wearing a purple top in a shade reminiscent of the purple coat Mr. Glass wears throughout the film, which hints at Mr. Glass’s role in the train crash.
3. When David can sense someone is bad, it is visually signaled by them wearing a bright color that contrasts them with the dingy and dreary color scheme in backgrounds throughout the film.
4. Many of the scenes are shot through windows, between seats, and through door frames; thus, they are “framed” just like comic-book panels.
5. In the scene where a TV channel reports on the train wreck, its logo is the same used by the Marvel superhero group The Fantastic Four.
6. David Dunn is the full name of Bruce Willis’s character. It is a comic-book tradition to have superheroes’ real-life names feature alliteration: Peter Parker, Matt Murdock, Reed Richards, Bruce Banner, and Donnie Darko are some examples. Other alliterative characters from the Superman comic books were Lois Lane and Lex Luthor.
7. Toward the end of the film, Mr. Glass sits in his wheelchair between three comic book covers: Thor, Daredevil, and Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. Around the time of the film’s making, the comic-book Nick Fury character was redesigned to resemble Samuel L. Jackson. Jackson would later go on to play Nick Fury in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
8. The cinematography involves dark shadows, strange angles, and long tracking shots in an effort to mimic the graphics in comic books.
9. The first comic book that Mr. Glass receives in the film is an issue of “Active Comics.” Its logo is designed to resemble the logo for “Action Comics,” which is where the Superman character was introduced back in the late 1930s.
10. In the scene where Elijah’s mom gives him his first comic book, she says it’s a good one with a surprise ending. This is a foreshadowing of the movie’s plot.
11. When something or someone is upside down in the film, this signals that it is bad or that bad things will occur to it. A son watches TV upside down. In a scene where Mr. Glass falls while chasing someone, he falls on his back and sees the person running away upside down. David falls head-first into the pool. When Elijah first looks at a comic book, it is upside down.
12. There’s a scene where David’s son attempts to shoot him to prove that David has superpowers. This is a nod to the real-life incident in which actor George Reeves, who played Superman in a 1950s TV series, was approached by a boy while Reeves was in his Superman costume, threatening to shoot him.
13. Since David is essentially modeled on Superman, his “kryptonite” is water, which is why he wears a raincoat. It is hooded to resemble a superhero’s hooded cape.
14. Unbreakable is one of director Quentin Tarantino’s favorite films. He called it a “brilliant retelling of the Superman mythology” and suggested that the film would have performed better at the box office if it had been marketed with the question, “What if Superman was here on Earth and didn’t know he was Superman?”
15. Time magazine listed it as the fourth-best superhero film of all time in 2011.
16. Unbreakable is the fourth film to feature Samuel L. Jackson and Bruce Willis. The first three were Loaded Weapon (1993), Pulp Fiction (1994), and Die Hard With a Vengeance (1995).
17. Samuel Jackson’s character’s nickname is Mr. Glass. This symbolizes that he is breakable. His character is shown reflected in glass on three occasions: in a mirror after his birth, on a TV at age 10, and in a picture frame during adulthood.
18. Samuel L. Jackson has a large, misshapen hairdo to symbolize that he will be revealed as a villain. He foreshadows this by saying, “Villains tend to have heads that are in disproportion to their bodies.” His hairstyle was deliberately fashioned after that of Civil War activist Frederick Douglass—whose surname ends in the word “glass.”
19. David and Elijah’s characters represents two sides of the spectrum: Hero and villain, good and evil, unbreakable and vulnerable.
20. It was Samuel L. Jackson’s idea for Elijah to use a glass cane.
21. Charlayne Woodard played the mother to Samuel L. Jackson’s character in Unbreakable. In real life, she is five years younger than Jackson.
22. Unbreakable was filmed in Philadelphia like most of M. Night Shyamalan’s movies—it’s his hometown. The football game is played at Franklin Field at the University of Pennsylvania in West Philadelphia. Built in 1895 and renovated in 1922, it is said to be the oldest football field in the country that is still in use as of 2021.
23. Shyamalan has a cameo as a drug dealer in the scene at the football game.
24. Shayamalan wrote the script with Willis and Jackson in mind.
25. Shyamalan says this is his personal favorite of all the films he’s directed. His other favorite films of his are Old (2020) and Lady in the Water (2006).
26. Shyamalan received $5 million to write the script before he wrote it—a record for a screenplay written “on spec.”
27. Unbreakable only uses the first third of Shyamalan’s script. He discarded the rest after deciding the first third was sufficient.