Will David Dunn's Kid Turn Bad in the Unbreakable Sequel?
One of the big surprises this year came at the end of M. Night Shyamalan’s Split, which turned out to be one of his best movies in years. That film suddenly became a stealth sequel to Unbreakable, when Bruce Willis’ David Dunn made a cameo appearance and reacted to the existence of Kevin Wendell Crumb (James McAvoy), a.k.a. the Horde. The recently announced sequel, Glass, is also bringing back Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price / Mr. Glass in the lead role alongside Willis and McAvoy. But he’s not the only major player returning from Unbreakable.
Via The Hollywood Reporter, Spencer Treat Clark and Charlayne Woodard will both reprise their roles from Unbreakable. Woodward played Elijah’s mother, Mrs. Price, while Clark portrayed David’s son, Joseph Dunn. Not every child actor manages to successfully pivot to an acting career as an adult, so that turned out to be a very smart piece of casting by Shyamalan. It may also mean that we’ll finally see Joseph turn on his father, if he hasn’t already.
Unbreakable was a superhero story that felt like it could be real. Maybe not “real” real, but it was more easily identifiable as our world than anything that we’ve seen from Marvel and DC in the last decade of superhero movies. And one of the most intriguing parts of David Dunn’s superhero origin story is that his son plays a major part in it. David brings Joseph to his first meeting with Elijah, and he lets his son in on the secret of his superpowers.. Shyamalan has taken a lot of heat for being derivative, but there really isn’t another superhero origin that is so closely connected the father and the son nearly every step of the way.
Therein lies the problem. You see, unlike his father, Joseph Dunn has no powers. He’s just as breakable as the rest of us. Perhaps even the choice of his name indicates that Joseph isn’t cut out for being a hero. In Shyamalan’s world, as in Silver Age comics, people with alliterative names like David Dunn tend to have the grand destinies. What destiny is Joseph Dunn going to have while growing up in the shadow of his father? When he was a kid, Joseph was clearly happy to be in the loop. But he also exposed his dark side within the first film.
In a particularly tense sequence, Joseph pulled a gun on his father, and...threatened isn’t quite the right word. But Joseph wanted to shoot his dad to prove that Elijah’s theories about him were correct. Joseph needed to believe that his dad was special so much that he was willing to risk David’s life on what could have been a madman’s delusion. David and his estranged wife, Audrey Dunn (Robin Wright), managed to talk Joseph down. But those were not the actions of a kid who is easily going to be able to separate reality and fiction.
Now, we’ve got to talk about the Orange Juice theory. Throughout Unbreakable, the color orange is associated with evil. That culminates in David’s battle with the Orange Man, a deranged serial killer who held two children hostage in their own home after brutally murdering their parents. When David emerged victorious, he subtly shared the news with his son...who happened to have a glass of orange juice at the breakfast table. We don’t think that anything in that shot was an accident. Shyamalan can be a little heavy handed and the implication seemed to be clear. Joseph is corruptible. Joseph could be turned to the darkness.
There’s no guarantee that Joseph will go bad and look to Mr. Glass for guidance, but Willis’ onscreen characters don’t tend to have the greatest history of holding their families together. Plus, putting Joseph at odds with his father could make for some great drama. It certainly made for some compelling moments the first time around.
We may not know for sure until Glass opens on January 18, 2019. It took nearly twenty years for Unbreakable to come back around, but we’re eager to see if it's getting another twist ending.
Images: Touchstone Pictures