David Dunn (character)

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David Dunn
Unbreakable character
First appearanceUnbreakable (2000)
Last appearanceGlass (2019)
Created byM. Night Shyamalan
Portrayed byBruce Willis
Davis Duffield
(Young; 1st film)
AliasThe Protector
The Overseer
OccupationSecurity guard, Football player (formerly)
SpouseAudrey Dunn (deceased)
ChildrenJoseph Dunn (son)

David Dunn is a fictional character and protagonist in the Eastrail 177 Trilogy, portrayed by American actor Bruce Willis. Dunn is a former college football prodigy and a security guard who discovers he has superhuman abilities. He is the protagonist in Unbreakable, has a minor cameo in Split, and again is a major character in Glass.

Fictional character biography[edit]

David Dunn was a football player until an auto car accident occurred. Sometime after the accident, he went off to marry Audrey who together have a son named Joseph.

In the present, David is a security guard looking for a new job. On his way home from an interview in New York, he gets involved in another accident, this time in a train explosion, which he became the only unharmed sole survivor. He is stalked by comic book store and art gallery owner Elijah Price who contacts him to explain his unique abilities but David challenges him with the theory by using a childhood incident when he almost drowned with Elijah further stating that water is his weakness. He later believes that he is a superhero which Joseph convinces him to be later on. Later that day, David begins to train using a 350-pound bench press. David uses one his abilities; one where he can see visions of crimes when people bump into him, at a train station. He finds a janitor who David follows home where he is holding children hostage. David rescues the family and is claimed a "Superhero" in the papers the following day which he shows to Joseph as a secret. David attends an exhibition at Elijah's art gallery where he meets Elijah's mother. Elijah calls David to the back of his room where Elijah shakes his hand, allowing David to witness Elijah conducting the train explosion and other similar crimes. David calls the police to arrest Elijah, who is taken to an institution for the criminally insane.

In 2016, David now has a new job. He visits a coffee shop where a woman asks about a man which David realizes she was talking about Elijah, who had taken on his childhood nickname "Mr. Glass".


When M. Night Shyamalan conceived the idea for Unbreakable, the outline had a comic book's traditional three-part structure (the superhero's "birth", his struggles against general evil-doers, and the hero's ultimate battle against the "archenemy"). However, he found the origin story most interesting, and chose to write Unbreakable as one. Willis became attached while shooting The Sixth Sense, also directed by Shyamalan.[1]

Appearances in films[edit]


Unbreakable was first released in November 2000. In the film, Dunn is a security guard who discovers he has supernatural abilities, with superhuman levels of strength, stamina, and invulnerability, as well as an extrasensory ability to see the crimes people have committed by touching them. Throughout the film, he is encouraged by Elijah Price, also known as "Mr. Glass" (Samuel L. Jackson) to become a superhero. Price, whose bones break easily because of a disease, develops a theory that if there is an extreme fragility there must be an "unbreakable" human in existence. As various people bump into him, Dunn senses the crimes they perpetrated, such as theft and rape, and finds one he can act on: a sadistic janitor who invaded a family home, killed the parents and is holding the children captive. Dunn follows the janitor to the victims' house and frees the children, but the janitor ambushes him and pushes him off a balcony into a swimming pool. Dunn nearly drowns (since mass amounts of water harm him ), but the children rescue him. He then attacks the janitor from behind and strangles him to death while once more remaining uninjured. At the end of the film, through his abilities, Dunn senses that Elijah orchestrated the train crash he had been in previously and countless other disasters that have resulted in massive losses of life, in an attempt to find Dunn. Price's justification for this seemingly is claiming the purpose of his life and condition was to be Dunn's archenemy. Dunn turns Price in to authorities, and Price is arrested for murder and terrorism and later committed to an institution for the criminally insane.


In a final reveal in the 2016 film Split, Dunn appears in a cameo role, revealing that the film takes place in the same universe as Unbreakable.[2]

While sitting in a diner, Dunn and several other patrons listen to the media coverage of the crimes committed by Kevin Wendell Crumb, a man who has been nicknamed "The Horde". The patron sitting next to Dunn notes the resemblance between "The Horde" and a wheelchair-bound criminal who was arrested 15 years prior. When she struggles to remember the man's name, Dunn tells her it was "Mr. Glass".[2]


Shyamalan expressed hope for a third installment following Split, saying, "I hope [a third Unbreakable film happens]. The answer is yes. I'm just such a wimp sometimes. I don't know what's going to happen when I go off in my room, a week after this film opens, to write the script. But I'm going to start writing. [I have] a really robust outline, which is pretty intricate. But now the standards for my outlines are higher. I need to know I've won already. I'm almost there but I'm not quite there."[3] In April 2017, Shyamalan announced that the film will be titled Glass, with Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Anya Taylor-Joy, and James McAvoy reprising their respective roles in the series.[4]


Willis received critical praise for his performance as Dunn in Unbreakable. Critic Roger Ebert believed that Willis' "subtle acting" was positively different from the actor's usual work in "brainless action movies".[5] Quentin Tarantino, who directed Willis in Pulp Fiction, has also praised his performance in Unbreakable, saying he considers it his best work.[6]


  1. ^ M. Night Shyamalan, Bruce Willis, Samuel L. Jackson, Barry Mendel, Sam Mercer, Eduardo Serra, James Newton Howard, The Making of Unbreakable, 2001, Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment
  2. ^ a b Couch, Aaron (January 22, 2017). "'Split': M. Night Shyamalan Explains an Ending Years in the Making". The Hollywood Reporter.
  3. ^ Joe McGovern (January 20, 2017). "Split spoiler: M. Night Shyamalan breaks down film's shock ending". Retrieved January 20, 2017.
  4. ^ Eric Eisenberg (April 26, 2017). "The Unbreakable And Split Crossover Movie Reveals Official Title And Four Stars". Cinemablend.
  5. ^ Roger Ebert (2000-11-22). "Unbreakable". Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved 2008-12-20.
  6. ^ Tarantino's Top 20. Spike.

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