Filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan's superhero trilogy of Unbreakable, Split, and Glass was hyped as a grounded, mature retelling of the superhero mythos where capes and tights are nowhere to be seen, and having superpowers is as much a curse as it is a gift. But while Shyamalan's trilogy is praised for its out-of-the-box approach to superheroes, the grand finale of the series came in for a certain amount of criticism.
A lot of the criticism had to do with David Dunn, played by Bruce Willis. First introduced in Unbreakable, Dunn was set up as the hero of the story, a superpowered man with unbreakable skin and a weakness to water, who tries to stop the machinations of the supervillains, Mr. Glass and The Horde. Unfortunately, Glass brings the adventures of David to a close by having the character drown in a puddle of water. In an interview with Uproxx, M. Night Shyamalan explained why David had to go out in such an ignominious manner.
"Well, in the end, that the simplest thing can take the strongest person down. That it's like more of Achilles' heel that, in the mythos of it, you don't need an army to take down the strongest man if you know their weakness."
So it seems the scene with David Dunn drowning helplessly in a puddle of water was meant to evoke one of the most time-honored traditions in superhero mythos, that of the "Superhero's Kryptonite". If you remember, Superman might be the strongest man in the word, but holding a shard of kryptonite in front of his face will immediately turn him into a helpless mess who can barely stand upright.
Still, while David's demise makes sense in context, the visual impact of watching the strongest character in the series be defeated by a puddle was too much for critics. Glass received terrible reviews from many sites, and although the movie had a decent showing at the box office, Shyamalan admitted last year that seeing a film that he had poured so much effort into getting torn apart had hit him hard, and all that he could do was cry.
"I was in London when I heard the U.S. reviews for 'Glass' were poor. I was in a makeup chair for a TV show, and I cried... We'd just come back from the London screenings, which were through the roof. We had only great screenings of the movie around the world. So essentially I wasn't prepared. I had this false sense of being a part of the group in a safe way. But boy, did I feel distraught that day. Honestly, I was feeling like, 'Will they never let me be different without throwing me on the garbage pile?' The feeling of worthlessness rushed me, and to be honest, it doesn't ever really leave. But anyway, the film went on, right? It became number one in every country in the world, and it represents my beliefs."
These comments first appeared at Uproxx.