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Will Smith has been a movie star for a quarter-century at this point, and in recent years, he’s been quite candid about some of the missteps in his career, like how he passed on The Matrix. With his first sequel in a long time, Bad Boys for Life, hitting theaters next week, the actor has opened up about the sequels in another one of his franchises. Will Smith admits that he ‘fumbled’ with the Men in Black follow-ups, saying:
I had fumbled a few of my last sequels, you know? I wasn’t happy with the Men in Black sequel.
While speaking with the host on The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, Will Smith was explaining that part of the reason Bad Boys for Life took so long is that he didn’t want to make a sequel just for the sake of it as a cash grab. The actor hasn’t done many sequels in his career to begin with, and it seems that the experience of the Men in Black sequels also played a factor in his apprehension about returning to Bad Boys and Mike Lowrey.
Will Smith admits that he fumbled the Men in Black sequel, but the actor doesn’t explicitly state which sequel he is talking about. So he could mean 2002’s Men in Black II or 2012’s Men in Black 3. Or perhaps he thinks he fumbled both films. Since he doesn’t dig too deep into it, we don’t know how exactly he thinks he fumbled the Men in Black sequel.
It’s possible he was unhappy with his own performance or how the films performed financially. Or maybe he just thought they were creatively disappointing. Whatever the case, Will Smith was not entirely happy with the way the sequel experience in the Men in Black. It’s a sober and honest reflection from the actor that shows he feels some ownership over the Men in Black sequels and whatever shortcomings he perceives them as having.
Anecdotally, I think Will Smith’s opinion on Men in Black echoes the sentiment of many fans. The first Men in Black was a highly successful and popular film that became part of pop culture. The sequels, whatever their merits, simply don’t and arguably can’t live up to that. And for what it’s worth, it’s not like the Men in Black franchise fared any better without him.
You can definitely understand how given his experience with Men in Black, Will Smith might be reticent about Bad Boys 3. Fortunately, the actor seems to be quite happy with how things turned out, no fumbling this time around.
Will Smith also told Jimmy Fallon that he didn’t want to remake the previous films with Bad Boys for Life. He wanted this to be a new film and a new experience that stands on its own and isn’t simply playing the hits of what came before. In his mind, they accomplished that by setting the film 25 years after the first one and showing that these characters have grown. Perhaps in his mind, the Men in Black sequels failed to do these things.