Elijah Price, also known as Mr. Glass, is the hidden main antagonist of the 2000 superhero thriller film Unbreakable. At once David Dunn's mentor and archenemy, he is also the owner of "Limited Edition" shop and (as the finale reveals) a supervillain.
He was portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, who is also known for his portrayal of Richmond Valentine, Jules Winfield and Frank Tenpenny.
Early Life Edit
Elijah Price was born with Type I Osteogenesis Imperfecta, a rare genetic disorder which left his bones extremely brittle: merely being born was enough to break baby Elijah's limbs, as the attending physician quickly discovered. Young Elijah was relentlessly mocked throughout his childhood by the other children in the neighbourhood, who often called him "Mr Glass" for his frailty; for good measure, constant visits to the hospital ensured that he remained isolated throughout his childhood, forcing him to seek solace in his one major hobby - reading comic books. However, as deleted scenes reveal, he continued his attempts to try and fit in, often with disastrous consequences: at a visit to a fairground, he attempted to ride one of the rougher rides - only to end up breaking several bones after his improvised safety padding slipped out of the ride.
Reading Comic Books Edit
Eventually, the bullying and potential for further injury got too much for Elijah, and he resolved to never leave the house again. However, his mother came up with a solution: buying a large supply of comics as presents for her son, she would regularly put one of them on a park bench just outside their house, essentially forcing Elijah to go outside to retrieve the comic before it could be stolen by a passer-by. Though this gradually had the effect of boosting his confidence and encouraging him to go outside, he never achieved much of a social life, and Elijah spent much of his time alone.
Finding a Superhero Edit
As he grew older, Elijah began to ponder the existence of a superhuman: drawing on his extensive knowledge of comic books, he came to believe that superheroes had once been a reality in history, that people with "real" superpowers had been lionized in history as mythical heroes and eventually exaggerated beyond reality by the modern entertainment industry. He even theorized that, if he represented the frailest a human being could be, perhaps there might be someone in the world who stood at the opposite end of the scale - someone who couldn't be injured like most humans. This was to form a lifelong obsession, beginning simply with him studying the newspapers for stories of people who'd survived catastrophic disasters without being harmed; however, this gradually grew to dangerous extremes.
As an adult, Elijah's devotion to comic books gradually inspired him to start his own comic book art gallery, Limited Edition; though regarded as a perfectly respectable business by the general public, it was also to become Elijah's workshop - his office becoming a planning center for continued attempts to locate his superhuman antithesis. Here, he would make bombs, plan future acts of sabotage, and chart the patterns of survival in catastrophes throughout the world - some of them planned by him, some entirely accidental.
Just prior to the events of the film, Elijah had begun his search for his opposite in earnest by bombing an airplane and burning a hotel to the ground, both incidents resulting in hundreds of casualties. Disappointed by the absence of survivors, he continued.
Meeting David Dunn Edit
The film begins with Elijah orchestrating a train crash, killing a hundred and thirty passengers and crew. However, this time there was a survivor: David Dunn, a humble security guard. Seeking him out, Elijah plants a business card on the front of David's car, inviting him to Limited Edition; however, after hearing the eccentric art dealer's theory, David isn't convinced and leaves under the impression that he's being scammed.
Injuring Himself Edit
Undeterred, Elijah follows him to the football stadium where he works, gradually charming him into an extended conversation. However, while walking past a queue of people waiting to be allowed into the stadium, David reveals an instinctive power to sense criminal behavior or past wrongdoings by touch, intuiting that one of the men in line is carrying a gun. Though Elijah considers this further proof of superhuman powers, David is once again dismissive. However, Elijah decides to follow the man out of the stadium, but trips while descending a flight of stairs and shatters several bones - though he is vindicated when he discovers that his quarry is indeed armed.
Helping David Dunn Edit
Now wheelchair-bound for the next few weeks, Elijah is assigned to physiotherapy and, as luck would have it, his therapist is David's wife, Audrey. Over the course of their time together, he learns that David supposedly injured himself in a car accident, ending his football career; however, Elijah believes that David faked his injuries and abandoned his future in sports in favor of his marriage to Audrey - a theory eventually proved true. David continues to disbelieve Elijah's theories of superhuman resilience, citing an incident in which he almost drowned, and considers ending their discussions after his son almost shoots him in an attempt to prove his powers exist. However, Elijah eventually convinces him that this vulnerability to water is merely a superhuman Achilles Heel, and encourages him to use his powers to seek out wrongdoers.
The Handshake Edit
After doing so - managing to rescue two children from a murderous home-invader in the process - David attends an exhibition at Limited Edition to celebrate: here, Elijah congratulates him on finally discovering his true purpose in life, and shakes his hand. However, David's power to sense wrongdoing reveals Elijah's crimes to him - including the train crash - and he can only stare in horror and disbelief as his mentor reveals himself, claiming that the deaths were all justified as a means to find a true superhero.
Overwhelmed with emotion, Elijah explains that he finally knows his purpose in life - to be the arch-villain to David's hero, even going so far as to suggest that his childhood moniker, "Mr. Glass," should have alerted him to the fact that he was always a meant to be a villain. Unable to bear the truth, David leaves. The final captions reveal that David led police to Elijah, who was committed to an institution for the criminally insane.
Elijah is a remarkably complicated man, in no small part due to the double life he leads as a terrorist and budding supervillain. For much of the film, he appears to be a perfectly respectable member of society; intelligent, immensely knowledgeable in his chosen field of study, and anxious to see the world improved by the presence of a superhero, he even serves as a mentor of sorts to David in encouraging him to achieve his true potential.
However, long before the final revelation, Elijah demonstrates a pronounced obsessive streak - both in regards to comics and in regards to proving David a superhero: in the case of the former, he's prepared to get into an argument with a high-paying customer over the proper use of comic book art, while in the case of the latter, he's willing to go so far as to stalk David at work in an attempt to persuade him. In a further show of obsessive dedication, he risks death or serious injury while pursuing a criminal down a flight of stairs (an incident that ends with Elijah tripping over and shattering several bones) in an attempt to see if the man was actually carrying a gun, as David had suspected.
He also demonstrates a remarkable gift for charisma and manipulation, proving himself able to enthrall his audience with lectures and unexpected topics of conversation: even during a fairly mundane talk with his physiotherapist, he is able to steer the course of the conversation away from his physical therapy and towards his therapist's marriage - to the point that the therapist herself puts aside all talk of work in favor of an extended discussion of her husband. On a much grander scale, Elijah is able to gradually convince both David and his son of the reality of a superhuman, until even the immensely skeptical David finds himself enthralled by the idea.
The finale of the film ultimately reveals that Elijah's obsessions are far more dangerous and violent than first appearances suggest: suffering an intense inferiority complex as a result of his disability, he is driven to find his heroic antithesis by any means necessary, believing it to be the only means of justifying his existence. To this end, he has gone so far as to engineer the deaths of hundreds if not thousands of people in airport bombings, hotel fires, and (most recently) train crashes. Though lacking a criminal organization or henchmen of any kind, Elijah was able to accomplish these acts simply by applying his impressive intelligence to manufacturing explosives and planning unimaginable acts of sabotage - not to mention his noted gift for manipulation: not only was he able to beguile a hotel employee into discussing the structural weaknesses of the building he was planning to incinerate, but he was able to make himself effectively beneath suspicion simply by seeming too helpless to pose a threat; at one point in David's flashback, Elijah is seen limping out of the driver's compartment on the train he sabotaged, but the driver quickly dismisses the sighting without another thought.
In the end, Elijah makes no apologies for his actions, nor does he ever believe that his crimes are anything but justified. However, rather than letting his activities go undiscovered, he decides to reveal himself by shaking David's hand, allowing him to witness the full extent of his efforts to find his opposite; though he is arrested soon after, Elijah is last seen smiling through his tears, overjoyed at his success in validating his own existence.
- Mrs. Price - Mother
- Dr. Mathison - Doctor
- Elijah Price is considered - alongside John Doe, Kylo Ren and General Zod- to be one of the greatest delusional villains in fictional history.
- Fan theory further speculates that the father of Kevin Wendell Crumb, aka The Horde, could've been killed in the same train derailment that David Dunn was the only survivor of. If this proves true, then Price not only created a superhero, David, but a supervillain as well, Kevin, as he was raised by his abusive mother due to his father's death.
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