Warner Bros. and producer Akiva Goldsman‘s company Weed Road are working on a sequel to director Francis Lawrence’s 2007 Richard Matheson adaptation I Am Legend (watch it HERE), which will see Will Smith reprising the role of Dr. Robert Neville, now joined in the cast by an unspecified character played by Michael B. Jordan. Lawrence has said he would “love to” return to the direct the sequel… which is made possible because there were two different endings filmed for I Am Legend. The version of I Am Legend that reached theatres ended with Neville sacrificing himself (using a grenade to blow up himself and the attacking “Darkseeker” creatures) to protect other characters. But that ending was actually a reshoot. The original ending was more low-key, with Neville making peace with the Darkseekers after realizing that he was the monster in the eyes of these creatures. That alternate ending was included on the special edition home video release of I Am Legend, and it’s that ending the sequel will be continuing on from. During an interview on the Happy Sad Confused podcast, Lawrence revealed that neither of the two endings he shot are his preferred ending for I Am Legend. He actually prefers the ending from Matheson’s novel, and regrets that they didn’t use it.
Lawrence said (with thanks to Coming Soon for the transcription), “I prefer the original ending to the two that we have. But the truth is now I would’ve done and built it to be able to do the ending from the novella, to truly just do that story. But, I think, with the money being spent, everybody was nervous about doing something so nihilistic. But looking back I feel like everybody went to see The Last Man on Earth and enjoyed it for that reason and would’ve still enjoyed [I Am Legend] with the nihilistic ending.“
The ending of Matheson’s novel found that the vampires Neville was fighting against were forming their own society and saw him as a monster for destroying so many of their kind. While I Am Legend and 1971 film The Omega Man were both based on Matheson’s novel, the 1964 adaptation The Last Man on Earth remains the most faithful to date.
Directed by Lawrence from a screenplay by Goldsman and Mark Protosevich, the 2007 I Am Legend had the following synopsis: Robert Neville, a brilliant scientist, is a survivor of a man-made plague that transforms humans into bloodthirsty mutants. He wanders alone through New York City, calling out for other possible survivors, and works on finding a cure for the plague using his own immune blood. Neville knows he is badly outnumbered and the odds are against him, and all the while, the infected wait for him to make a mistake that will deliver Neville into their hands.
Do you think Lawrence and his collaborators should have stuck to the ending in the I Am Legend novel? Share your thoughts on this one by leaving a comment below.