I Am Legend 2 Totally Jettisoning Will Smith’s Character From The Original And Remaking Him

Will Smith's character died in I Am Legend, but the sequel takes place years after a different ending found on the DVD release.

By Britta DeVore | Updated

i am legend

With the news that I Am Legend will be receiving a sequel after 16 years, fans have been wondering how it could be that Will Smith will be reprising his role from the post-apocalyptic sci-fi thriller. In a recent interview with Deadline, co-writer Akiva Goldsman (who also co-penned the original film) revealed that although theater-going audiences saw Smith’s character Neville dying at the end of the film, the follow-up will use the DVD release’s alternate ending that saw the main character surviving his perilous mission to find a cure to save humanity. So, if you were thinking maybe the production team would go down a multi-verse route like Spider-Man: No Way Home, we’re sorry to tell you that this won’t be the case.

Lining up better with the Richard Matheson novel that the movie was adapted from, the original ending was shifted following negative feedback from test screenings. During her chat, Goldsman also revealed that the story for the sequel will pick up decades after the first movie, presumably giving us some flashback moments surrounding what happened to Neville and his companions after they reached the survivor’s encampment in Bethel, Vermont. While we don’t know much about who will be adding their names to the call sheet and what roles they’ll be playing, we do know that joining Will Smith will be Creed and Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan.

A self-proclaimed “obsessed” fan of The Last of Us, Goldsman says that she loves the way the video game-turned-HBO-sensation did a major time jump following the early days of the apocalypse. As the team did in the original Will Smith-led film, the writer said that they would continue to show “how the Earth reclaims the world” and what happens when mankind is no longer “the primary tenant.” And, although the final moments of I Am Legend saw the main characters far away from the Big Apple, the upcoming film will find them back in a New York City that will be more absent from the footprint of humans than ever before. 

Will Smith in I Am Legend

The original film introduced audiences to Robert Neville (Will Smith), a brainy scientist who has managed to survive a man-created apocalypse after a plague turns humans into monsters. A resident of what’s now the emptiest city on the planet – New York City – Neville travels with his dog, a German Shepherd named Sam, to try and find other survivors. In his spare time (when he isn’t talking to his other BFFs – mannequins), Neville seeks to find a treatment that will cure the disease that humanity created. 

The 2007 Francis Lawrence-helmed feature also starred Alice Braga (City of God), Charlie Tahan (Ozark), Dash Mihok (Ray Donovan), Emma Thompson (Sense and Sensibility), Salli Richardson (Eureka), and Will Smith’s daughter, Willow Smith. A major hit at the box office, I Am Legend knocked The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King off its December weekend throne by raking in $77.2 million during its opening weekend. Currently sitting with a 68% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, the film is seen as a beloved piece of sci-fi cinema by some, and an over-the-top adaptation by others. There is currently no release window set for I Am Legend 2.