‘I Am Legend 2‘ Needs Original Alternate Ending
Deadline dropped the big news last week, announcing that Warner Bros. were launching the “franchise” sequel with both Smith and Jordan on board.
Warner Bros. is upping the stakes on its I Am Legend franchise to a stratospheric level. For its next chapter, the studio is bringing back not only original star Will Smith but also Black Panther actor Michael B. Jordan in what will rep the duo’s first big movie together as stars and producers.
The original film starred Smith as U.S. Army virologist LTC Robert Neville, the lone survivor of a man made virus, living isolated in the deserted ruins of Manhattan. During the day, he experiments trying to find a cure to the disease, and at night he hides from the Darkseekers, the zombie like people infected by the virus. In order to continue his work, Neville “captures” Darkseers to use as lab rats, but one group of Darkseekers seem to take things personally when Neville takes a young female infected to his lab.
The film’s original ending see’s Neville sacrificing himself so that he can pass on his “cure” to a couple of survivors he encounters. This is why a sequel with Smith just won’t work, unless the studio make one simple little change, switch out the endings.
You see, I Am Legend is loosely based on the 1954 vampire novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. The novel details Neville’s life after a a pandemic has destroyed humanity and turned the remainder into “vampires”. Neville spends his years as the last man alive, hunting down the vampires whilst they sleep during the day, and hiding from them at night. However, things take dramatic turn when Neville discovers that some vampires have over come the wild urges of vampirism and have started to build a new society, one in which he is the enemy. Having killed so many of the vampires, he has become the thing of legend, the creature that strikes during the day and hides at night. Neville is the new superstition and legend, just as vampires once were to humans.
Whilst the 2007 film strayed away from most of the source material, it’s original ending was more in line with the book. The cut ending saw Neville confronted by the Darkseekers, but rather than wanting to kill him, they just want the young girl he had taken from them. Rather than being mindless monsters, they have evolved in to loving, emotional, creatures, a new society of beings. The film ending saw Neville abandoning his research and finally leaving Manhattan as a changed man. This ending never played out in theaters, as the studio changed it out for reshoots that see Neville sacrifice himself for humanity.
The new movie can only be made if the studio reconcile the alternate ending as canon, keeping Neville alive. There are other options of course. Smith could be playing a completely new character, or he could even have a much reduced role and shown in flashbacks. But I think that Warner Bros. have much bigger intent rather than just as sequel, which would indicate a bigger part for smith. After all, everyone’s world building these days, and a movie can never be just a movie anymore. It has to have sequels, prequels, a TV series and a tie in podcast, along side the usual lunchboxes and tote bags.
Whilst the new film is still in very early stages, it’s clear that there’s a lot of work to be done to tie the original to the sequel. I’m sure we’ll be hearing more as the project develops further. Keep you eyes peeled for more news soon.
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