Michael B. Jordan's I Am Legend 2 Is Going To Retcon The Will Smith Original, And It's The Sequel's Best Move So Far

Making a sequel to Will Smith’s I Am Legend felt like a prospect for disaster considering his character, Dr. Robert Neville, dies at the end. The Francis Lawrence-directed adaptation of Richard Matheson’s chilling novella made some huge choices in its theatrical ending that made a sequel almost impossible. However, thanks to the decision to retcon the original movie’s events, this Michael B. Jordan starring legacy-quel has made its best move so far.

I don’t say that solely on the basis that I Am Legend’s “controversial” alternate ending is the superior chain of events. In addition to feeling that way, there are also some practical reasons this decision had to be made. Before we dive too deeply into that discussion though, let’s refresh ourselves on the theatrical ending and how the alternative being made canon opens some crucial doors.

Will Smith with a vampire

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

What Happened In The Theatrical Ending To I Am Legend?

Not to put too fine of a point on our previous exploration on this subject, but at the end of I Am Legend, Dr. Robert Neville (Will Smith) sacrificed himself in the name of humanity. Like, “pulled the pin on a grenade and ran head first into a pack of Hemocytes, destroying his entire lab” sacrificed. Coincidentally, this is the only version of the ending you can access with an HBO Max subscription; at least, until some sort of potential sequel connected re-issue is contemplated in the years to come.

Before taking his Big Willy Swan Song, our supposed hero sheltered fellow human survivors Ethan (Charlie Tahan) and Anna (Alice Braga), and gave them the cure to the plague that ravaged the world. It’s a bittersweet ending, and it’s clearly worth talking about its existence in the history of I Am Legend’s editing process. However, thanks to the superior chain of events, Michael B. Jordan actually has a shot at making an I Am Legend 2 that’s actually plausible.

Alice Braga smiles at Will Smith on a car ride in I Am Legend.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

How The Alternate Ending Allows I Am Legend 2 To Even Exist

In the alternate ending, it isn’t all about Dr. Robert Neville magically fixing things with his miracle cure. Rather, there’s no cure to begin with, nor is there a gigantic grenade-induced death of Robert or the leader of the Hemocytes (Dash Mihok). Rather, Robert returns his female test subject to her mate, who has only been trying to retrieve his beloved. 

Robert, Anna and Ethan leave New York in I Am Legend’s alternate ending, with a radio message detailing their eventual position. Rather than a more action-packed ending that apparently tested better with audiences, this course of events pushes a theme that better fits the movie that came before it. It also opens those important doors that could make for an intriguing sequel. 

Michael B. Jordan as Charles Monroe King in A Journal For Jordan

(Image credit: Sony Pictures)

Michael B. Jordan’s I Am Legend 2 Could Take Place In A World Without A Cure

One of the decisions that is undone by I Am Legend’s now canon ending is that of an actual cure being formulated. While Dr. Robert Neville is still alive, it comes at the cost of his supposed cure never existing, which allows Michael B. Jordan’s character to exist in a world without a cure. 

While it’s unclear how I Am Legend 2 is going to connect Jordan’s unnamed character, or even the events of the first chapter to this new sequel, that seems to be the first big step to allowing fear to set in. Which, in turn, means the threat of the Krippen Virus is still in play, as well as any other new surprises screenwriter Akiva Goldsman can provide.

Our hero has escaped from 2007’s blockbuster unscathed, but it could come at the temporary cost of the human race’s peace of mind. There are a lot of threads that will need to be followed in I Am Legend 2, and now there’s plenty of time for that story to be shaped to include Michael B. Jordan.

Michael B. Jordan stands stoically at night in Without Remorse.

(Image credit: Paramount/Skydance)

I Am Legend 2’s Time Jump Allows For As Much, Or As Little, Will Smith As Needed

Another uncertainty is just how much of Will Smith’s involvement will be part of I Am Legend 2’s secretive story. Director Francis Lawrence has even stated that it’s uncertain when the sequel will go into production, so it’s not like there’s a pressing need for Smith to finish Bad Boys 4 this weekend and get to set. Just as there’s time to develop the story for this sequel, there’s plenty of room to tailor how much of Dr. Robert Neville’s tale we get to experience. 

For all anyone knows, Will Smith’s current state of involvement could change between now and when cameras roll. In which case, as little or as much of his character could be written into the shooting draft for I Am Legend 2 in the meantime. This sort of flexibility is a door that opens both ways, as there’s a lot of potential for a franchise to grow in this post-apocalyptic wasteland.

Somber Will Smith getting licked by a puppy in I Am Legend.

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

The Time Jump Also Leaves More Room To Follow Up On Dr. Robert Neville’s Story In The Future

I Am Legend 2’s big time jump decades into the future isn’t only a cute nod to The Last of Us, though that certainly has inspired screenwriter Akiva Goldsman in his work on this second helping. It helps the cause in another way, as if Will Smith doesn’t feel like coming back for this new ride, or just wants to cameo in the “present day” of humanity’s collapse, there’s still plenty of room to revisit his character in other ways.

Should this new sequel reignite the public’s interest in I Am Legend, there’s an opportunity for Dr. Robert Neville’s years in between movies to be fleshed out. Perhaps some flashbacks to Dr. Neville’s work alongside Dr. Alice Krippen (Emma Thompson) could be in the cards thanks to de-aging technology being what it is today. If that’s the game plan, then let’s hope Smith’s experience with the box office bomb Gemini Man doesn’t scare him away from this option.

The future for I Am Legend is wide open, with Will Smith and Michael B. Jordan standing at the heart of it all. Not much is known outside of that, and the fact that the alternate ending is now the canon conclusion to the previous story. So far, things are looking very good, and it can only go up from this point. That said, if you want to I Am Legend, you’ll need to do some hunting to find the alternate cut that will take precedence. Which, as luck would have it, is available on various physical media formats, and can be easily purchased through marketplaces like Amazon

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.