M. Night Shyamalan, the director of the grounded superhero trilogy Unbreakable-Split-Glass, says he turned down advances from Marvel and DC to direct comic book films because he didn’t want to dilute his filmmaking style.
Talking to Yahoo Movies UK to promote the release of Glass in cinemas on Friday, Shyamalan told us: “I want to make sure it’s right for everybody. I have a strong [filmmaking] accent. It’s very particular, and the best version of it is, to keep the accent.”
Shyamalan is resolutely a writer-director, and has created new worlds for every single film he’s directed bar one: the critical and commercial dud The Last Airbender, which was based on Nickelodeon’s hit Avatar cartoon series. It’s no wonder he’d rather retain complete control of his films than have to adjust his style to suit someone else’s universe, after that film picked up five Golden Raspberries in 2010 including Worst Picture.
“Are those movies [Marvel and DC superhero films] a place for that? Or is it appropriate for that?” Shymalan muses about transposing his unique style onto those established movie worlds.
“Because they, in and of themselves, have their own flavour. Do they want this other tabasco in there? So it’s philosophically a question. It doesn’t mean [i’ll] never [do it], but it’s very hard to imagine. Filmmakers that have a heavy accent – I don’t necessarily want them to make those movies.”
One filmmaker with a “heavy accent” that struggled to find his place in the Marvel Cinematic Universe was Baby Driver’s Edgar Wright who quit Ant-Man weeks before shooting began citing “creative differences” with Marvel Studios. Wright later explained: “I wanted to make a Marvel movie but I don’t think they really wanted to make an Edgar Wright movie.”
Shyamalan adds that no-one is really to blame when creatives clash with the studios, because it all just comes down to creating films that fit within the pre-established worlds beloved by the fans.
“It’s not fair to [studios], because they want to make [their films] in a certain language,” he explains, “And what if I said ‘Hey, I’m going to do this 3-minute shot on the back of his head, and I also want to make them very dark, and I want his motivation to be really ambiguous, and I want to challenge the audience to make them super-uncomfortable.’
“I want [the studio] to be OK with those things.”
2000’s Unbreakable, starring Bruce Willis as the indestructible David Dunn, is considered a seminal superhero movie, and one of the few in the genre not centred on a Marvel or DC comics hero. Glass picks up Dunn’s story 18 years later, with the poncho-wearing vigilante hot on the trail of James McAvoy’s Kevin Wendell Crumb, the villain of Split.
Glass is a distinctly Shyamalan-esque ending to the trilogy, offering more twists and turns than a Chubby Checker concert. What Shyamalan does next is anyone’s guess, but we’re sure it’s going to be unexpected.
Glass starring James McAvoy, Samuel L Jackson, Bruce Willis, and Sarah Paulson arrives in cinemas on 18 January. Watch a trailer below.