Of all the Wednesday Warriors I’ve written about, David Dunn, the mild-mannered hero of the movie Unbreakable, and today’s highlight, is one of my favorites. If you haven’t seen the film directed by The Sixth Sense director M. Night Shyamalan, then I don’t want to spoil it for you. You can skip to the last paragraph to get the general gist of the film. For everyone else, keep reading.
A train wreck leaves everyone onboard dead except for David Dunn (Bruce Willis). In fact, he doesn’t only survive, but he walks away from the tragedy without a scratch. Returning home, his wife Audrey (Robin Wright), with whom before the accident he wasn’t getting along, takes her husband’s survival as a sign that their troubled marriage is worth saving.
In another part of Philadelphia, Elijah Price (Samuel L. Jackson) finds himself reading about the accident and about David’s miraculous event. No one should have survived that crash. No one should have just walked away without a scratch. As with David, there is more to Elijah than anyone knows.
One day, David’s son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) retreats in the shadows as his father lifts weights. It’s one of those scenes where the audience is slowly discovering something about David that Joseph is realizing himself. What exactly does Joseph see?
Joseph sees that his dad is not ordinary. Joseph sees his dad is capable of lifting more than anyone could possibly lift. Joseph sees his father as extraordinary.
In another scene, David asks Audrey if she remembers the last time he was sick. He comes to the realization that he’s never been sick–not even a sniffle.
On the other hand, at one point or another, Elijah has broken every bone in his body. Sickness follows him wherever he goes. Confined to a wheelchair is something he’d rather not admit to but can’t avoid.
From there, David dons a poncho and wanders the city. In a busy metropolis train station he extends his arms and allows the people to brush his hands. It is then a superhero rises from the devastation his life could have been. No longer does he wander to discover his abilities. He knows who he is. With a poncho acting as his cape, he can rescue those in need. He can give aid. And his life has turned from a helpless victim to that of a strong father figure boys could emulate.
Lastly, every superhero has an arch villain with whom to contend. If David were unbreakable, with neither train wreck nor bomb unable to harm him, then logically, someone who is on the opposite side of the spectrum, breakable, will have to be his archenemy. There is only one person who could fit that description.
As with all superhero origin movies, the character has weaknesses to overcome, strengths to discover and dark demons to fight. In David’s case, there is more to his life than what others may see. He possesses a disturbing curiosity as to how far he can go with his abilities. The critical question, however, is much more personal. How far would we go should we discover we are not who we think we are?
Have you seen Unbreakable? What do you think of the David and Elijah relationship?