The movie Glass, released in 2019, is the third in a trilogy of movies about secret superheroes/super-villains, originally characters from such movies as Unbreakable and Split. In Glass, David Dunn, the main star of the movie Unbreakable, appears in this flick with super strength. Also, James MacAvoy, the star of the movie Split, plays Kevin Wendell Crumb, a supervillain with twenty-four multiple personalities. As well, Elijah Price, also a star of the movie Unbreakable, is a genius supervillain with brittle bone disease. In the end, sadly, the superheroes/super-villains of Glass are hunted down and murdered at a fake mental hospital by fake police and intelligence agencies that want to preserve the status quo in an evil world, which ultimately benefits a secret evil society; however, before the heroes die, they expose this secret society.
As in the movie Unbreakable, here, too, we see David Dunn as a superhero. David’s son, Joseph, tells David in an opening scene: “Hey dad, I am checking the police scanners. They’re looking for you pretty aggressively. Be real careful” Dad says, “Alright.” David is a vigilante.
Likewise, as in the movie Split, Kevin reveals his multiple personalities in this movie. “The beast is going to come for you guys any minute now. And I, I get to greet him. My big reward for keeping the horde in the like. I got to take him to the masses of the broken, ” Kevin points out to his victims. “I better go. They can come at any second. Miss Patricia would find out and she would get angry.”
Additionally, David has another power even though his main power is strength. He possesses a kind of psychic power, which allows him to see bad things people have done. David has two powers in this movie.
That being said, David and the Kevin are soon captured by the authorities. Dr. Ellie Staple, played by Sarah Paulson, orders the captured pair to be taken to the Psychiatric Research Hospital: “Take them straight to Raven Hill Memorial. The west wing of Raven Hill Memorial.” Here, David and Kevin are treated like mental patients.
While at the mental hospital, Dr. Ellie Staple introduces herself to David.
“My name is Ellie Staple,” she explains to David, “and I am a psychiatrist. This room must look nefarious. The walls are equipped with 46 high pressure nozzles all connected to a 15, 000 gallon water take outside. It will only be triggered if you are threatening or trying to escape.”
Afterward, Staple introduces herself to one of Kevin’s many personalities, Dennis. She explains to Dennis, saying: “This is a hypnosis light. My pleasure Dennis. You are being monitored. If for some reason there is a threatening identity in the room, the light will automatically strobe and force a different identity to take over.”
Staple wants to treat David for delusions of grandeur because David believes he’s a superhero.
“Everyone is safe, David. Maybe this will all make sense if I explain who I am. I specialize in a particular type of delusion of grandeur. I specialize in those individuals who believe they are superheroes. I been given three days to treat you by whatever means necessary. I came here for you both.”
Furthermore, Staple extends her treatment to Elijah’s mom. She informs his mother, stating, “Would it surprise you to know there are more and more people that have this delusion? It is exactly the center of my work.”
Because David was involved in a train accident in his past, Staple believes David maybe suffering some brain damage, so she asks him for his consent to do an MRI. Staple tells David: “David, I would like you to agree to have an MRI. You were the sole survivor of a devastating train derailment 19 years ago. It is possible that there was damage to the frontal lobe that you are unaware of.”
Later, Staple and Kevin have a chat. MacAvoy smiles and looks at Staple, saying, “You treat people who think they are comic characters or something?”
Even though nobody has been fully diagnosed, treated, or convicted of any crime, Staple labels David a vigilante. She says this to David’s son, Joseph, at meeting: “In the eyes of the authorities, that is not accurate. He’s injured countless individuals that haven’t had their due process in court. And there was a teenage girl in this latest incident who broke her arm and ribs… It was the vigilante event and a victim was injured. They will claim, in court, that if they had found the girls, no one would of been hurt.”
Furthermore, Staple explains she has three days to treat David. “Joseph, I only have a few days. If I don’t get him to give up his delusion, he will remain in institutions like this for the rest of his life.”
Also, Staple feeds lines to Casey, one of Kevin’s victim who survived, about Dennis. She says to Casey, “Just because he let you go doesn’t mean he is good. He’s been held here before his trial. I am in charge of him for now, but everyone in this state wants him tried and put away.” Now, apparently, everyone wants David locked up.
Because of the super powers demonstrated by David, Kevin, and Elijah, people have become supporters and believers of the superheroes. Staple tells some of these supporters, “I am trying to get the others to stop thinking of this as a super human being.”
In fact, in one of the movie’s scene, we see a comic book with “The Horde” as the main character. And one of Kevin’s personalities makes this comment about himself, “This place is for people who think they are comic book characters. And the horde is like a comic book character name, isn’t it?”
As a treatment to delusions of grandeur for being a superhero, Staple wants to give Elijah a lobotomy. Staple explains the procedure to a comatose Elijah: “I come to the conclusion that we should perform a procedure on you. This is a corrective procedure that rebalances part of the frontal lobe that is over stimulated. It would be an honor to get to know your persificious mind. We are going to conduct the procedure in three days.”
Afterward, Elijah aka Glass tells David about superheroes. “They have been lying us all.” Superheroes are real for Glass.
Meanwhile, Glass is putting a master plan into action. He discloses it the Kevin, saying, “But you need David to convince them. You should fight David in front of the world. The tallest building in the city is opening today. All the cameras in the world will record you. You can convince the horde and the world at the same time we exist.”
Since Glass’s master plan needs some willing accomplices, he enlists the help of Kevin as the Horde. Glass tells the Horde, “I assume you were sent here to be an avenging angel. How much do you want to avenge us?”
In order for the master plan to work, Glass needs the help of David. While on escape from his cell, Glass tells David in his cell, “I found someone who will require your full potential to come out. A super human serial killer.”
Apparently, Glass tells David about his upcoming fight on the tallest building in the city. As an overseer, David will have to fight the Horde on the building: “We are going to the tallest building in the city. The Horde is going to be revealed there. There are three floors that house a chemical company in that building. I am going to blow up that building using their chemicals, David. You might want to try and stop us. Today is your coming out party. At least you know what to wear… A lot of people are going to die, overseer, if you don’t get through that door.”
However, Elijah is killed at a fight, which takes place at the mental hospital. A dying Elijah tells his mom, “This is an origin story.”
At this point, we learn about a secret society dedicated to killing superheros. Staple reveals this fact to a David while he’s being drowned in a pothole by a fake cop at the mental hospital: “They sent me here for you three. Tell me the truth. Did I almost convince you you were an ordinary man? I would of left you alone, but when the horde showed up here, then I just had to come.” This secret society, all carrying the same mark on the wrist, wants to preserve this world even though it’s a terrible place, because it’s a world where they have the power.
Aside, Staple alienates the superheroes, in a traditional Marxist fashion, in this movie. First, she attempts to alienate the superheroes from the very ideas in their heads by not letting them talk about those ideas. Further, she “gas lights” the heroes in an attempt to create doubt about their identity as superheroes; that is, Staple won’t allow the superheroes to talk about being superheroes. After a period of alienating and isolating the superheroes, Staple, in a very insidious way, is ready to dispose of them. In this sense, Staple, as well as the secret society, sound like elite classes who exploit labor workers for their surplus labor value and then dispose of them in the end.
It should be said, in functionalist social theory, the secret society serves a function for society. That function is to maintain oder, cohesion, and stability of the parts of a society. Much like shared beliefs and values contribute to the balance of society, the secret society provides balance to society by getting rid of superheroes.
Both the Marxist approach and functionalist approach are similar in this movie, though. There are structures to society as there are parts of society. Both social theories of society present society resemble a machine that is maintained over time.
Next, Staple has some words for a Elijah.
“They got it wrong in the comics. They talk about secret evil groups trying to kill heroes. I don’t think we are particularly evil. And we don’t choose sides. We try to stop both of you. If there is one of you, the opposite appears. It escalates, we step in. There just can’t be gods amongst us. It is just not fair. It has worked just fine for ten thousand years our way. Take consolation in the fact that you were right about your theory. Be at peace.”
At this point in the movie, one can see another aspect of traditional Marxist theory: binary opposition. There are good and bad superheroes, which are binary opposites. Also, there are superhero and secret society groups, which sound like traditional Marxist classes like the working class and elite class. These groups are binary opposites in the movie. Moreover, there is conflict among these groups. In this sense, these groups resemble the classic binary oppositions in Marxist theory, that being the working class and elite classes.
Meanwhile, as Elijah dies, his mother and him have a talk. A dying Elijah tells his mom, “I wasn’t a mistake momma.” He mom says, “No, you were spectacular.” Apparently, Elijah did some extraordinary.
After all the superheroes are dead, Staple goes to a local bar and waits. After some people have left, the door is locked and she makes a final report to secret society members remaining in the bar: “All there were real! Quiet special actually. If you approve, I will move to the next city… No one saw them. I know what my charge is. Convince them, this is the most humane and effective method. We’re not executioners and we don’t need murderers. If that fails, use the machine. And I understand how important what we are doing is. Maintaining balance. keeping order.”
However, before Staple moves on to the next city, she makes a stop at a local comic store. While browsing the comics, she over hears some kids discussing a comic book character. “He’s too smart. That’s why he’s the mastermind. He’ll never tell you his real plan. He sets everyone up. Gets them looking in one direction. There’s always a real plan.” Apparently, it’s a character called “The Mastermind”.
Immediately, Staple has an epiphany and returns to the mental hospital to to check video footage. She tells the IT tech: “All videos and back up video have been erased? Was any of it downloaded before that?
In response, the IT guy reports something disturbing to Staple. The IT tech says, “I don’t know how this is possible. Someone was streaming the live security feed to a private site.”
Finally, Dr. Ellie Staple pieces together Elijah’s master plan. “He went through the basement tunnels to be seen by as many cameras as possible. That’s why he didn’t go out the side entrance. He was never planning on going to that building. This was a suicide mission. I gave him all the cameras he needed right here. What have you done Elijah?” She finally understands the plan and heads down to the basement to scream to herself.
As Glass ends, we hear Elijah speaking as a series of videos appear across the internet.
“There are unknown forces that don’t want us to realize what we are capable of. They don’t want us to know the things we suspect are extraordinary about ourselves are real. I believe that if everyone sees what just a few people become when they wholly embrace their gifts others will awaken. Belief in oneself is contagious. We give each other permission to be superheroes. We will never awaken otherwise. Whoever these people are that don’t want us to know the truth, today they lose.”
In the end, the evil secret society did not succeed in covering up the truth about their existence; moreover, the evil secret society could not change the superheroes, nor could the evil secret society maintain their idea of “order” in society. In the end, the world got to see and learn about the evil society’s designs via the internet and social media. As well, the world got to see the existence of superheroes on social media. The evil secret society lost at concealing the truth while the superheroes died with integrity.
Overall, Glass is about superheroes exposing an evil secret society. Basically, the superheroes expose this secret society at a fake mental institution, which was set up by the secret society in order to hold and kill superheroes. In the end of Glass, we learn there is hope, too: One of the superheroes, Elijah, explains this hope to his mother, “Mama, this is an origin story.”