We here at Marvelous Movies, in honor of Throwback Thursday, decided to review a crucial film from the beginning of the year: M. Night Shyamalan’s masterpiece Glass. A culmination of movies dating back a full 19 years to the first X-Men (2000), this film follows the long-anticipated Fox/Disney merger in bringing together characters from both the highly popular Marvel Cinematic Universe and X-Men franchises. It stars Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier.
It should come as no surprise to longtime fans that S.H.I.E.L.D. super-spy Nick Fury, who helped assemble the Avengers back in 2012, is now at the forefront of bridging the MCU and X-Men universes as well. What may surprise fans more is some of the unusual circumstances of this installment. Nick Fury actually spends the entire movie in a wheelchair, while Professor Xavier, who normally uses a wheelchair, is not only walking in this film, but also running, jumping, and exhibiting great feats of strength. While these departures from the characters’ normal states might strike some fans as strange, a closer look at the surrounding properties in the franchise offers a bit more insight into the plot of this mysterious movie.
Firstly, though casual moviegoers may not have picked it up, it is clear that Professor X has absorbed the powers of Legion sometime before the events of this film. As established on the FX series Legion, Legion (a.k.a. David Haller) is Professor X’s estranged son, whose mutant ability lets him absorb other people’s minds into himself–and take on the powers of whoever he has absorbed. This ability gives him an extreme case of Dissociative Identity Disorder, as he has numerous different personalities living inside his own mind all at once. In Glass, Professor X has (presumably through his own telepathic abilities) taken several of Legion’s personalities into himself, relieving some of the burden from his son but consequently splitting his own mind into several different identities.
Among these identities in Professor X’s mind, characters continually refer to “the Beast,” another established character in the X-Men franchise. Fans hoping for a cameo from Nicholas Hoult or Kelsey Grammer will be disappointed, but the presence of the Beast in Xavier’s mind seems to explain how Xavier is now manifesting superhuman strength and even acrobatic abilities. Still, some fans speculate that Professor X (rather than Hank McCoy) simply is the Beast in this timeline. The theory seems wild and certainly like a departure from the traditional character, but perhaps no more so than the X-Men’s last alternate timeline film, Beauty and the Beast (2017), in which Legion actually was the Beast, and Magneto was somehow a talking clock. #ItsAllConnected
Speaking of “It’s all connected,” Glass also features Spencer Treat Clark, reprising his role as Werner von Strucker from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series. The younger von Strucker is the son of Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, notorious scientist for villainous organization HYDRA, who has appeared in previous MCU films. Interestingly, in this film, Werner’s father is played by a different actor, and actually seems to be making an effort to stop crimes rather than perpetrate them. Conversely, some fans have even argued that Nick Fury and Professor X act as the villains rather than the heroes in this film. Due to the known good and evil nature of these characters from established movies, though, it seems like this is just sly misdirection on the director’s part.
Another key character introduced in this film is Illyana Rasputin, a.k.a. Magik, portrayed by Anya Taylor-Joy. Magik is a mutant with mystical abilities, and the sister of established X-Man Colossus. While Taylor-Joy’s performance brings life to this character’s big-screen introduction, and her character does form a clear bond with mentor Professor X, it is disappointing that her trademark magical abilities are severely under-utilized in this film. Still, now that she’s been introduced in Glass, Magik is set to appear again in The New Mutants, to be released in 2020. While the upcoming film has already encountered multiple delays due to the Fox/Disney merger and the culmination of the previous X-Men franchise, literally dozens of fans across the country are still eagerly anticipating it and hoping that it doesn’t get pushed back another two years again.
Of course, none of these myriad characters or tie-ins serve to explain what we brought up earlier: why is Nick Fury in a wheelchair, not to mention absent his signature eye patch? Well, we saved the best revelation for last. We here at Marvelous Movies strongly suspect that this figure was not actually Nick Fury, but instead a shape-shifting alien Skrull in disguise for the entire length of the film! Yes, such a revelation, if confirmed, would surely provide a satisfying resolution to all possible plot holes, and would in no way raise even further questions to be explored in future movies. What a perfect reveal that would be!
Despite its potential pitfalls and confusing character moments, Glass is still a must-watch for any fan of the Marvel or X-Men franchises, and will surely serve to set the stage for both in the years to come.