I Am Legend, a box office success for Will Smith in 2007, had a polarizing ending, but there is an I Am Legend alternate ending that more accurately reflects the book. I Am Legend, written by renowned author Richard Matheson and first published in 1954, is one of the most well-known pieces of postapocalyptic literature to date. It, therefore, comes as no surprise that the book has been three times adapted for the big screen.
Ten years after I Am Legend‘s release, in 1964, the first adaptation was released. In the movie The Last Man on Earth, horror icon Vincent Price played the lead role. The Omega Man, the second adaptation, starred Charlton Heston in 1971. In 2007, Will Smith starred in I Am Legend, the most well-received and financially successful Matheson adaptation to date.
Oddly enough, none of the three movies truly succeeds as a text adaptation because they all diverge greatly from the original. For starters, whereas Robert Neville in the book is not particularly knowledgeable about the disease that has wiped off humanity, Neville in every film adaptation has been a brilliant scientist capable of coming up with a cure.
The conclusion of the I Am Legend novel, in which Neville commits himself rather than being put to death for his alleged misdeeds, is another significant aspect of the book that has never been faithfully adapted.
It turns out that individuals who were affected by the plague and turned into vampire-like creatures have established their own society, is nonetheless largely intellectual, and consider Neville as a monster because he exterminated their race. However, the I Am Legend alternate ending of the Will Smith film I Am Legend comes far closer to the meaning of the book. Here is a description of the alternate ending to I Am Legend.
I Am Legend alternate ending explained
The theatrical version of I Am Legend’s ending shows Will Smith’s character locked up in his lab while looking for treatment for the mutants that resemble vampires. The animals rush to his house and are shut out on the other side of some sturdy glass where he can see them waiting for him as he eventually finds a cure to their ailment. In the end, Robert Neville sacrifices himself and kills several of the creatures in an explosion, giving his fellow survivors Anna and Ethan the opportunity to flee while carrying a sample of his experimental treatment.
Following tales of an uncontaminated colony, Anna and Ethan find sanctuary in Vermont, receive the cure, and leave with the impression that humanity has been saved. This keeps the storyline of Neville taking his own life but ignores the novel’s original motivations for doing so because he is unaware that he has unknowingly turned into the world’s villain.
There were a number of alterations from the early scripts in the theatrical cut, including one where I Am Legend’s dog lives. In the I Am Legend alternate ending, Neville finds out that the vampire-like monsters are attacking his home because their leader is the partner of the most recent “test subject” that Neville had abducted in an effort to find a cure.
Neville allows his test subject to reunite with her comrades after realizing that, just like in the book, the creatures still possess intelligence, a means of communication, and a developed social structure. He also appears to recognize that he has turned into a monster in the eyes of the Darkseekers.
With Anna and Ethan on his side, Neville gives up his studies, takes the medication, and returns to Vermont a transformed man. Neville discovers that he isn’t quite as righteous as he believed, bringing the movie considerably closer to the novel yet being still fairly distant from it.
Sadly, as director Francis Lawrence disclosed, the I Am Legend alternate ending was changed to the happier one that was shown in theaters because test audiences had extremely unfavorable reactions to the part where Neville realizes he is a villain. This is not the first time a test audience has negatively impacted a film, and it most likely won’t be the last either.
Will Smith is still attached to the second installment despite his character’s death
Given how the first film ends, the idea of I Am Legend 2 seems absurd. However, Will Smith is still involved in a project that is now under development. Although it isn’t specified how his character will appear in the sequel, he would probably appear in flashbacks.
Numerous of Will Smith’s projects have been shelved or placed on indefinite hold as a result of the infamous Oscar slap. Even though Smith received 20 pages of the script by hand just before the Academy Awards, Bad Boys 4 was put on hold. Short version: It’s unlikely that Smith’s many planned projects, including I Am Legend 2, will be completed any time soon.
Although the I Am Legend alternate ending would’ve given the plot a more satisfying conclusion, it wouldn’t leave the door open for a sequel in which humanity is saved. Michael B. Jordan (Black Panther) is already linked to the upcoming episode of the franchise, and both he and Smith will serve as producers. The proposal is still awaiting approval from Warner Bros., which is the sole catch.
I Am Legend 2 will therefore still happen (in theory), but whether it will advance or be approved depends on who is prepared to bring Will Smith back to their cast. It will be fascinating to see how his character is used in the official version without him being alive and without the I Am Legend alternate ending.
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