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In the movie Glass, Osaka Towers is referred multiple times throughout the movie.

For example,

the television sets and the news anchors explain the opening of Osaka Towers. And Glass telling the Horde that it will be the place for the world to see the showdown between him and the Overseer. But ultimately in the end of the movie, we don't reach the Osaka Towers, there was no showdown there.

What is the purpose and significance of these buildings as they are referred to multiple times throughout the movie? Is it purely supposed to be a detail in the movie, not something the audience really has to think about?

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    Subtle Bruce Willis callback to the Nakamora Tower in Die Hard? He seems to like being in movies that feature a Japanese skyscraper. (Okay, so maybe it's just those two, but first thing I thought of...) – Darrel Hoffman Feb 5 at 19:57
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The Osaka Tower is what is known in fiction as a Red Herring ; in other words, a seemingly important element that serves only to distract the viewer from the truth. A traitorous Chekhov's gun if you will. In Glass, the Osaka Tower is the mother of all Red Herrings at it dupes both the viewer and the characters trapped in the narrative.

Every character in Glass' setting is aware of the Osaka Tower and its relevant characteristics : it's massive, it's nearing completion, and heavily mediatized. Once Mr. Glass puts his plan in motion, he puppeteers everyone around to make them believe he's staging a fight between The Overseer and The Beast at Osaka Tower, leaving a note stapled to a newspaper showcasing the building. He even gives a perfectly good reason for this strategy : the media attention around Osaka Tower would out superhumans as a component of reality. That is why The Overseer and the psychologist are so adamant about foiling Elijah's plan and keeping The Beast from leaving the hospital's grounds.

However, Mr. Glass never once seriously thought about holding a final showdown at Osaka Tower. As he explains to his mother, he was staging an 'origin story', not a 'limited series' in which a final battle would be necessary to fit into narrative tropes. The tower is but a smokescreen to goad every character into playing their cards at the hospital and outing themselves to the world. It could be said the battle at the asylum was in itself a final showdown, but as it resolves inconclusively, I wouldn't say it fits Glass' universe's definition of a 'final showdown'.

Now, from the viewer's perspective, it seems only logical to hold a final battle at Osaka Tower. First, a newscaster can be heard at the beginning of the movie highlighting the massiveness and celebrity of the building. A savvy film-goer may then be tricked into believing there will be an obvious showdown at Osaka Tower, because it fits within a typical 3-acts story structure, both within Glass and within the Unbreakable trilogy. This guess is reinforced by Elijah's note on the newspaper. Notice that the journal describes the Osaka Tower as a 'true marvel', hearkening back to stereotypical Marvel movies where a gigantic brawlfest is expected to take place, preferably in an epic setting.

Of course, this illusion of understanding is shattered when The Beast and The Overseer are both killed by the Clover Society. The Osaka Tower was never meant to be the final showdown's location, because Shyamalan had already decided it would not be this kind of movie. It was just a shiny beacon to lure away the viewer from the final twists. As the Huffington Post puts it :

“Glass” teases the big Osaka Tower calamity so hard you might believe it’s actually going to happen. Without a third-act battle, how can this saga hew to the comic-book blueprint that Elijah routinely references? Even Elijah’s mom (Charlayne Woodard) knows that a culminating “showdown” where “all the skills are revealed” is pure formula ― something we’ve seen over and over and over in Marvel and DC leviathans. (A magazine headline touting Osaka as a “TRUE MARVEL” is no accident.)

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    This was a well descriptive answer and goes beyond answering my question. Enjoyed reading this! – aonepathan Feb 5 at 18:07
  • I haven't seen Glass, but from a storytelling perspective, the description you offered for Osaka Tower sounds an awful lot like a MacGuffin as well – Lord Farquaad Feb 6 at 21:02
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Might not be the complete answer you want.

I haven't seen the film, but reading the plot on Wikipedia:

Elijah convinces the Beast to battle David during the public unveiling of the city's new highest tower to revive the Horde's faith and reveal the existence of superhumans to the world, before turning his attention to David and forcing him to accept the truth of his superhuman abilities to escape, lest Elijah destroy the tower in place of the showdown.

I would say the purpose and significance is the fact that the city is unveiling this new building and a public showing of superhumans would be the best venue because it would be highly publicized to start with.

Why the showdown didn't happen at the tower?

The Beast retreats and promises to finish him off at the tower. However, Casey confronts the Beast before he can escape and summons the real Kevin to take control by speaking his full name. Without the Beast's superhuman strength and durability to protect him, Kevin is fatally shot by one of Staple's men and dies in Casey's arms.

The Dr. interferes, but Glass had planned for all this it would seem and that could mean the setup for a showdown was just to lure out the Dr or just a fallback plan.

  • Thanks for the answer, I was worried I had to watch the complete trilogy possibly to understand why. But the movie put a lot of emphasis on the Osaka Towers, I believe @Caelistis explains it well its purpose. You need to watch the movie, you're in for a treat! – aonepathan Feb 5 at 18:11

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