The news that I Am Legend 2 has an “unbelievably cool” premise hints at the possibility that the sequel will do more than merely retcon the existing ending of I Am Legend. 2007’s I Am Legend seems like a tricky movie to follow up with a sequel after an infamous change to I Am Legend’s original novel ending. This saw the movie adaptation of the post-apocalyptic sci-fi horror kill Will Smith’s heroic loner, Dr. Robert Neville, with the doctor sacrificing himself to ensure that a cure for a widespread zombie-like virus made it out of New York.
However, the long-awaited I Am Legend 2 is in the works, and Smith is returning, meaning the sequel will at the very least need to retcon the ending of I Am Legend. That said, I Am Legend 2 producer John Mone recently claimed that Smith, screenwriter Akiva Goldsman, and new star Michael B Jordan came up with something “unbelievably cool” for the sequel. As a result, these comments could imply that I Am Legend 2 may do more than merely continue on from I Am Legend’s alternate ending.
In the alternate ending’s version of events, Neville doesn’t die but rather discovers that the “monsters” he has been hunting are sentient beings with thoughts and feelings. I Am Legend’s big twist proves its scientist antihero has secretly been a mythical villain to them all along, in line with the source novel’s ending. This would be an easy point to pick up the story from, but Mone’s tease that I Am Legend 2’s story will be something “unbelievably cool” suggests it may attempt something more ambitious than simply following on from this alternate ending. In this way, there is a chance that Smith’s character could be a clone he produced during his lifetime or a clone created by later generations after his death, neither of which would require the creators to retcon I Am Legend‘s theatrical ending.
Retconning I Am Legend’s theatrical ending to bring Smith’s Neville back would be logical and appease the critics who argued that the new ending missed the novel’s message. However, Smith playing a sweet I Am Legend 2 hero after his recent behavior at the Academy Awards may be hard for audiences to swallow. Meanwhile, the possibility of Smith’s character being a clone would mean the sequel would make more sense without viewers needing to know the original movie had an alternate ending before viewing I Am Legend 2.
After all, bringing Neville back via a retcon would make I Am Legend 2 undeniably different from the original movie, shifting its genre from being a survivalist story into one where the monsters and humans presumably coexist. As such, I Am Legend 2 trying something more ambitious than using the movie’s alternate ending to retcon I Am Legend should be commended – but altering a cinematic ending 15 years after the fact is already quite a radical move in and of itself.
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