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‘I Am Legend’ sequel with Will Smith officially in development

By Kara Santos Published Mar 07, 2022 3:51 pm

Will Smith is set to return in a sequel to the 2007 post-apocalyptic movie I Am Legend.

Smith confirmed the news in an Instagram post on Saturday (March 5), where he tagged fellow actor Michael B. Jordan, which was quickly flooded with comments about I Am Legend 2.

Smith will reportedly reprise his role as Robert Neville in the sequel and star alongside Michael B. Jordan, whose film roles include Donnie Creed in Creed and Erik Killmonger in 2018’s Black Panther.

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As reported by Deadline, both Smith and Jordan will be starring and producing the upcoming sequel that comes 15 years after the original. The plot and other details about it are yet to be released, but rumors about a potential sequel have been around since 2012.

I Am Legend (the film) is loosely based on Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel of the same name, which was highly influential in popularizing the post-apocalyptic genre. The novel was adapted to film by Oscar-winning writer Akiva Goldsman with Francis Lawrence as the director under Warner Bros. Pictures. 

Smith’s I Am Legend is actually the third feature-film adaptation of Matheson's novel following 1964's The Last Man on Earth which starred Vincent Price and 1971’s The Omega Man which starred Charlton Heston as the lone surivor of a global pandemic.

The 2007 film plot stars Will Smith as former US Army virologist Robert Neville, the last human in New York, who is trying to find a cure to a genetically re-engineered virus that turned people into vampire-like nocturnal mutants known as Darkseekers.

With Smith set to reprise his role, news of the sequel has prompted questions and theories from fans about the film's theatrical ending.

In I Am Legend, Robert seemingly dies, after heroically sacrificing himself to save two immune teens, Anna and Ethan. In the film’s climactic scene, Smith is in the process of creating a cure to the Darkseeker mutation, which makes all the infected vampiric but vulnerable to sunlight. When a hoard of Darkseekers track Robert, Anna, and Ethan to Robert's basement lab, he gives a sample of the cure to Anna and Ethan before sacrificing himself with a grenade.

The film shows Anna and Ethan arriving at a survivor's camp in Vermont to hand over the cure, narrating Robert's tale of heroics and his death, though his body is never shown. 

However, the film apparently also had an alternate ending which saw Neville survive, which is actually closer to the novel's chilling ending. 

In 2008, a two-disc special edition of the film on DVD contained an alternate version of I Am Legend's ending where Robert returns the Darkseeker he had been experimenting on to the attackers, who leave. Neville realizes, just like in the book, that the creatures are still intelligent, have a form of communication, and have developed their own society. He realizes that he has become a monster himself to the infected and lets the test subject rejoin the rest of the infected and abandons the cure to travel with Anna and Ethan to the survivors' camp.

The original ending was reportedly changed to the version released in theaters due to negative reactions from test audiences. 

While it's been 15 years since the film has been released, amid the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccination efforts in 2020, the film I Am Legend made headlines again. A story by The New York Times said that one employee was not keen on getting her vaccine shots as it “had caused the characters in the film I Am Legend to turn into zombies.”

Film writer Goldsman responded saying, “Oh. My. God. It’s a movie. I made that up. It’s. Not. Real.”

In December 2020, Reuters released a fact check piece in response to social media users sharing content online that claims characters from the film turned into zombies because of a vaccine.

"Fact check: A vaccine did not turn characters in the movie I Am Legend into zombies. This claim is false."

"This genetically engineered measles virus is the reason for the plague and the zombie-like creatures in the fictional film. It was not a vaccination but a modified virus used to treat cancer."