Directed by: M Night Shyamalan
Cast: Bruce Willis (David Dunn), Samuel L Jackson (Elijah Price), Robin Wright (Audrey Dunn)
Certainly the most unusual superhero film in this list (it takes a long while before you even realise that it is), and arguably the last great film directed by Shyamalan, Unbreakable is a typically glacial piece of cinema from the director, but totally, engrossingly hypnotic at the same time.
Willis plays security guard David Dunne, who survives a train crash completely unharmed even though all the other passengers are killed. He’s contacted by Elijah Price (Jackson), the curator of a comic art gallery, who suffers from a genetic disorder that make his bones especially brittle. Price is convinced superheroes really do exist and tries to convince Dunne that he is one of them. As it turns out, he’s prepared to go to some very extreme measures to do so.
The beauty of Unbreakable is how understated it all is. The basic story is really no less preposterous than many others on this list, but Shyamalan writes and shoots it like he’s making a Samuel Beckett adaptation: long scenes, lots of dialogue, characters who never say exactly what’s on their minds. The result is elegant, absorbing and much more about human failings as about super powers. Which is probably why it was far from a box office hit; the art house audience doesn’t want films about superheroes, and the superhero audience doesn’t want jaw jaw. Luckily there is a small crossover in the cinematic Venn diagram, and those lucky enough to be in it are lucky enough to have this film.