Glass Movie Ending & All Twists Explained
WARNING: Spoilers for Glass.
Glass' ending has three big twists, three major deaths, and leaves the future of M. Night Shyamalan's Unbreakable world irreversibly changed. Here, we'll break down what happened, what it really means, and where it could lead.
A sequel to both Unbreakable and Split, Glass picks up the stories of David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and Elijah Price aka Mr. Glass (Samuel L. Jackson) from the former, and Kevin Wendell Crumb aka The Horde (James McAvoy) from the latter. 20 years after surviving a train derailment that killed everybody else on board, David has become a vigilante crimefighter, using his powers of touch mind reading and superstrength to become The Overseer. He's now hunting The Horde, which is continuing its mission to sacrifice teenage girls to violent 24th personality, The Beast. When they showdown, they're captured and taken to the same psychiatric institution that's held Elijah Price under heavy sedation for the past two decades.
Once there, Dr. Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) attempts to cure all three of their belief in being superheroes, but ultimately fails to hide them from the truth. Mr. Glass plots a grand way to reveal the truth to the world, recruiting The Beast to his cause and taunting David into opposing them, leading to a final showdown outside the hospital. What comes next is a slew of twists, shocking turns and more surprises than any previous single M. Night Shyamalan film. Make sense of it all in our Glass ending explainer.
- This Page: The Horde Was Created By Mr. Glass
- Page 2: What The Deaths of David, Kevin & Elijah Really Mean
- Page 3: The Clover Secret Society In Glass
- Page 4: Mr. Glass' Masterplan & "Origin Story"
The Horde Was Created By Mr. Glass
Train crashes have always been important to the Glass series. The starting point for Unbreakable is the Eastrail 177 train crash, orchestrated by Elijah Price in a bid to find a superbeing, of which David Dunn is the only survivor. Then, in Split, it's gradually revealed that Kevin Wendell Crumb's father was killed in a train accident, an event that left him at the mercy of his violent mother and directly led to his various personalities.
The first of Glass' big ending twists is that these were the same train: Clarence Wendell Crumb was just a few rows behind David Dunn. This means that, albeit accidentally, Mr. Glass created not just The Overseer but also The Horde. As he sees it, he's the great superpowered mastermind, crafted heroes and villains as he pleases; killing Clarence was a happy accident, not an accidental tragedy. The Horde, of course, takes it somewhat differently, revealing a self-hatred within itself that it now directs towards Elijah.
The clues for this train twist were there throughout both Split and Glass (to the point that it became a popular fan theory). It's established in the previous movie that Kevin's father died when he was a child, which can line up with Unbreakable's 2000 setting, and The Horde first transforms into The Beast after laying flowers at a Philadelphia's 30th Street Station, the same place David was traveling to. Glass drops even more clues ahead of the ending reveal: it confirms Kevin is (somewhat unbelievably given James McAvoy is 39) 27 years old, making him six in 2000; Elijah finds a big secret in his file, one that seems to connect to him; and Joseph Dunn is further shown finding more information.
Page 2 of 4: What The Deaths of David, Kevin & Elijah Really Mean
The Meaning Of All Of Glass' Superhero Deaths
The final battle at Glass' ending between The Overseer and The Beast ends in meticulous tragedy for all involved. Each hero dies in a way fitting of their comic origin, with a loved one there to help them pass on.
First, Mr. Glass is beaten up by The Beast after learning of his role in Clarence W. Crumb's death. Elijah then collapses to the ground, breaking even more of his brittle bones and slowly bleeding out in the company of his mother (Charlayne Woodard). Mr. Glass was a person of immense intellect with a major physical disability who thus viewed himself as a background mastermind; that the osteogenesis imperfecta, a disease that has put him in immense pain since birth, is the root cause of his death is almost inevitable, but as he's the "bad guy" of this story, it's interesting that the killing blow comes hubristically from a flaw in his plan and Kevin's past being revealed too early. There is, nevertheless, a catharsis in his death; he repeats a line from the end of Unbreakable about proving he's "not a mistake", something that gets its full payoff at the very end of Glass (something we'll come to later).
Then, Kevin is shot by a sniper. The original personality is brought into the light by Casey Cooke (Anya Taylor-Joy), whose compassion for The Horde has over the movie been shown to have a calming effect. Casey's overriding care for her former captor may come across from Glass on its own as Stockholm syndrome, but it's more rooted in their shared recognition of a tortured past; Casey was sexually abused by her uncle, Kevin repeatedly assaulted by his mother. However, while this gives them both clarity - Dennis expresses regret and even The Beast admits it doesn't want to exist - it also directly leads to Kevin's death; had he been in his Beast form when shot, his stronger skin would have deflected the bullet. This was The Horde's weakness, but one Kevin accepts as he's finally able to achieve peace.
Finally, David Dunn is drowned by one of the on-site enforcers. His showdown with The Beast in an attempt to stop Elijah's proposed terrorist attack ended in the hospital's water tank (installed as a security measure against him), with him fighting against his debilitating, self-decreed kryptonite to break out. While that may see him overcome his weakness - and the memories of being nearly drowned as a child - it's undone when he's dragged to a deep puddle and drowned; Joseph Dunn (Spencer Treat Clark) tries to stop the soldier but its too late. Dunn's death is certainly the most tragic; it's one that is entirely preventable, goes against him overcoming his weakness, and ultimately provides no resolution to his arc.
David was the hero and yet got an entirely ignominious death, while the villains had their tragic arcs touchingly resolved, which is part of a bigger point made by Glass' ending; each one of these deaths is a resolution on its own terms, but its together where the real meaning comes in. The world doesn't accept these superpowered beings and as a result, they can't survive; they are destined to live troubled lives and only find purpose in their own deaths - and even that's not guaranteed. As the three-part death scene ends, the only people who even acknowledge them are the those closest to each character.
Page 3 of 4: The Clover Secret Society In Glass
What Is The Clover Organization In Glass' Ending?
However, there's something more active going on in the deaths of the main characters in Glass than just society. The sniper who shoots Kevin has a black clover tattoo on his wrist, as does the soldier who drowns David, and, in the film's next rug-pull, Dr. Ellie Staple. Glass' world-realigning twist is that there's a secret organization, symbolized by the clover, that exists to keep superheroes down.
Glass' ending doesn't reveal too much directly about the Clover organization, but through flavorful dialogue, a lot can be inferred. They view superpowered beings as a threat to humanity's development - in Staple's words, they're "not fair" - and so attempt to both pacify the people themselves and keep wider awareness of them in the population a secret. The group has existed for 10,000 years in some form, pretty much since the emergence of modern humanity, and today function like any high-end secret society. They hold private meetings in restaurants to discuss plans, and in 2019 are sending Ellie Staple around the country to pacify outbreak situations.
There's not much set up narratively for this twist in Glass. That Staple and her swat team cornered David and The Horde so quickly certainly makes more sense knowing they're monitoring them, as does her arbitrary three day grace period, and there is a recurring mention of magicians using tricks of observation and deception; yet none of these can exactly be taken as "clues". However, thematically, they're right at the core of Glass from the start...
The Clover Organization Doesn't Want To Kill Superheroes - It Wants To Trick Them
If you think that the Clover society is some sort of superhero killer by default, that's not quite right. They ultimately care about pacification of the superhero presence, something that can be done a lot more simply with just the mind.
One of the central ideas of Glass that's extended from Split is the conflation of superpowers with mental illness. In the previous film, it was taken as mental illness born of hardship was a way to elevate a person, but here it's reversed, with it suggested the very idea is a delusion. In Glass' standout pink room scene, Staple breaks down how everything seen in the series so far can be explained in entirely rational ways: David's mind-reading is just advanced a magician trick; The Beast is just a man who withstood dud bullets and bent centuries-old bars. For an entire stretch in the mid-section, the movie entertains this theory, only for it to be smashed to pieces by the final act showdown.
Starting that questioning was the Clover organization's real plan. They play David, Kevin and Elijah's abilities as delusions of grandeur inside and out, hoping to convince the subjects and the people around them that they're nothing more than ordinary people. Clover knows that in the real world, the barrier of belief in such impossible powers is high - it took David a whole movie to accept he was unbreakable, while originally only two of Kevin's 23 personalities believed in The Beast - and manipulate that.
They only turn to weapons and violence when that hypothesis is rejected. At the end of Glass', all three superpowered characters comes to embrace their powers and gets support from a close loved one who fully believes the fantastical things they say; in that moment, the Clover society has failed and so has to take drastic measures. It's a small detail, but highly important to the films' themes of belief.
However, for all that's been discussed the Clover organization and their twist reveal is rendered almost a moot point by Glass' final twist.
Mr. Glass' Masterplan Explained
The big twist of Glass is, in its simplest form, the same as Unbreakable's: Mr. Glass was behind it all. His plan was never, as repeatedly teased, to lead a terrorist attack on Philadelphia's new tallest building. Instead, the entire showdown was a suicide mission, a literal show for the cameras and a final step in his bid to bring superheroes to the real world.
Awakened after years on medication, Elijah began to use the unfortunate circumstances he was in and manipulated them to his advantage. He switched his meds for aspirin, disassembled the lobotomy machine, approached The Horde and enacted an obvious escape plan. Then, taking advantage of the hundred cameras built around his cell, enacted a perfect showcase of superpowers that he live-streamed, unbeknownst to anybody else involved. After his death, he had these videos sent to Mrs. Price, Casey and Joseph, who together agreed to reveal it the world. Glass ends with them sat in 30th Street Station as the footage begins to go viral.
This is very much a payoff to the Mr. Glass' arc across the series. In Unbreakable, he committed three acts of terrorism in a bid to find a superhero and bring them to the attention of the world. He succeeded in the former with David Dunn (and, by proxy, The Horde), but was incarcerated before he could make it public. With his masterplan in Glass, he gets to finally achieve that, albeit in death. This final twist is established throughout the movie, with a lot of steps in what he's doing shown but not given full context; one particularly nice touch is the showdown being presented heavily in security camera footage, planting its importance to the audience well ahead of time.
The one wrinkle in all this is that Glass surely didn't know about the Clover organization, to which his entire scheme feels like a targeted rebuke. Ellie Staple is clued into this when overhearing two teenagers discussion the all-seeing genius of a mastermind and it comes as a personal affront to her, and indeed it reveals them to the world in a way they never have been before. An unexpected side-effect of Mr. Glass' plan may be the collapse of the anti-superhero Illuminati.
With Mr. Glass attaining victory and that portrayed in a positive light, it'd be easy to conclude that Glass exonerates or even sides with its villain, but it's more a case of the film trying to reblur the lines between good and evil; it's a case of truth against oppression. And nowhere is that seen better than in Elijah's - and Shyamalan's - concluding sentiment.
Glass Really Was An Origin Story
One of the most confusing moments in Glass is Elijah's final words. His mother asks him why the showdown didn't go as he'd long predicted from limited edition comics, to which he responds it wasn't a limited edition, but an origin story. Considering this is very much the payoff of the Unbreakable trilogy, such a claim can come across as a little confounding; surely this is the furthest thing from an origin story? But he's right: while Elijah is delivering his final breaths, Kevin has been shot and David is being drowned, the rest of humanity discovers superpowers and what people are truly capable; it's the origin story of a world aware of superpowers. As Mrs. Price says, "it is the beginning of a universe".
Faith plays a big part in M. Night Shyamalan's films, with conflicts of belief - be it religious, divined or otherwise - a common thread through his characters. In Glass, and indeed across the Unbreakable trilogy, this idea is raised in many ways: in how David Dunn struggles with his new-found powers that Elijah believes unquestioning and his son obsesses over; in Split with the existence of The Beast and Casey learning the confidence to stand against her uncle; and in the latest movie in Ellie Staple's deconstruction of their powers, David's returned doubt, Kevin's embracing of the light, of course Elijah's returned vision, and in the end, the drive of the trio's survivors to reveal the truth. All of this is channeled into Glass' ending, where the entire world is challenged to rethink what they believe.
The Future Of The Unbreakable-Split-Glass Universe
For all its killing of the three lead characters, Glass has a rather open ending. Its final moments mark a paradigm shift for the world as we've explored it thus far, with a myriad of opportunities on the horizon. The real world is now aware of the existence of superheroes, an "I am Iron Man" ground zero that will inevitably lead to more people discovering and opening up about their own powers. On the other side, the Clover organization is surely over; their efforts have failed and now the truth has too much momentum to be suppressed. Yet they would surely not take this lying down. They've been around for millennia, so have seen equally humanity-threatening events unfold. Attempts to curb the explosion of supers through government, public opinion or other secretive means are sure to happen.
However, while all this is to come for the world, don't expect to see it. Glass has always been positioned as the end of the Unbreakable trilogy, and Shyamalan repeatedly stated he wants to step away to tell original stories; there is unlikely to be a Glass 2 or Split 3 or Unbreakable 4 any time soon. And, considering how Glass' ending thoroughly paid off the core ideas of belief and bringing superheroes to the masses that have been part of the story since 2000, is there really anywhere else to go?