The I Am Legend alternate ending provided insight into how the long-awaited I Am Legend sequel could ultimately be produced with original actor Will Smith.
Although the conclusion to I Am Legend split people, there is an alternative conclusion that more accurately reflects the content of 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. The most acclaimed and financially successful Matheson adaptation to date, I Am Legend, starred Will Smith, although it continued the pattern of these adaptations deviating from the original work.
The conclusion of the I Am Legend novel, in which Robert Neville commits suicide rather than being put to death for his alleged misdeeds, is a significant aspect of the book that has never been faithfully adapted.
It turns out that individuals who were transformed into vampire-like monsters by the disease have established their society, are nonetheless largely sentient, and consider Neville a monster because he wiped out their race.
However, the 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 conclusion shows Will Smith’s character locked up in his lab while looking for a treatment for the mutants who resemble zombies from Dawn of the Dead.
The animals attack his home as he finds a cure for their plight. In the end, Neville gives his life to defeat the creatures and free fellow survivors Anna and Ethan.
Then, with the suggestion that humanity has been saved, Anna and Ethan set out to locate a colony of survivors while ingesting a sample of Neville’s medicine.
This keeps the storyline of Neville taking his own life but ignores the reasons given in the original work for doing so because he never knows he’s accidentally turned into the world’s villain.
There were several alterations from the early scripts in the theatrical cut, including one where I Am Legend’s dog lives.
Neville discovers that the vampire-like monsters are attacking his house in the movie’s alternate conclusion, not to murder him but to save one of their own that Neville had kidnapped as a test subject.
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.
Regrettably, the I Am Legend twist ending was modified to the more heroic one that audiences saw in theatres because test audiences had extremely unfavorable reactions to the finish where Neville had his villainous understanding, as stated by director Francis Lawrence.
This is not the first time a test audience has negatively impacted a film, and it most likely won’t be the last either.
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Will Smith and Michael B. Jordan in I Am Legend 2
There have been many inquiries ever since Will Smith and Michael B. Jordan were added to the cast of I Am Legend 2, but the alternate ending for that film clarified how it may be done.
I Am Legend 2 will pick up where the theatrical cut left off rather than the alternate ending, according to a recent announcement.
It follows that this Will Smith sequel would assert that Robert Neville is still alive, despite what viewers observed when the previous film was released.
This choice demonstrates how much the alternate I Am Legend ending is preferred to the theatrical one.
The new information for I Am Legend 2 still has to be explained in great depth, even though it does explain how Will Smith returns for the sequel.
If Neville had the cure, did he share it with the other survivors or mutants who were sick, or did he understand they should be allowed to continue living their lives as they had created them?
There is also the issue of where the movie’s suspense comes from given that it is established that the mutants are not a threat. Neville might end up serving as their guardian against hostile human beings.
Michael B. Jordan playing the hero and Will Smith playing the villain to stop him from killing the mutants may make for an interesting story.