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I Am Legend 2 - What We Know So Far

In 2007, Will Smith once again cemented his place as one of Hollywood's most charismatic and reliable movie stars when he played the human lead in "I Am Legend." The film, a loose adaptation of the 1954 Richard Matheson novel of the same name, takes place in a post-apocalyptic world where most humans have either been wiped out or turned into vampiric mutants known as Darkseekers. The movie follows the efforts of Smith's Dr. Robert Neville, the sole human living in an overrun Manhattan, as he tries to find a cure to the disease that changed the world and, hopefully, link up with other human survivors.

The film was a box office success when it was released in December 2007, earning over $585 million worldwide (via BoxOfficeMojo), and received generally positive reviews from both critics and casual moviegoers alike. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film even currently holds matching 68% audience and Tomatometer scores. Now, over a decade after the first film's release, Will Smith is set to star in an "I Am Legend" sequel, but he isn't the only notable actor attached to the project.

Here's everything we know so far about "I Am Legend 2."

I Am Legend 2 will unite two major movie stars

In early March, Deadline reported that Will Smith had signed on to star in and executive produce a sequel to "I Am Legend." Shortly after the report's release, Smith seemingly confirmed the news on Instagram when he posted an image of the post-apocalyptic version of Manhattan from the first film. In addition to Smith, the sequel will also star "Black Panther" and "Creed" actor Michael B. Jordan, who is set to executive produce the film alongside his co-star.

Akiva Goldsman, who co-wrote the 2007 adaptation of "I Am Legend," is set to write the Jordan and Smith-led sequel. As of this writing, it is unclear if "I Am Legend" filmmaker Francis Lawrence will also return to helm the sequel, or if it'll be another filmmaker who ultimately sits in the director's seat for the follow-up. The film's plot is similarly unknown right now, and it does not currently have a set release date.

Asked about the announcement in a recent interview with Entertainment Tonight, Smith refused to offer any big plot details, but called the idea for the film "a really, really cool concept." He also said, "It was one of those [movies] I was gonna leave alone." However, Smith admitted he quickly reconsidered once he actually heard the exact pitch for the sequel. "But that might work," Smith said. "I think we can do that."

With two massive stars like Jordan and Smith attached to the project, it seems safe to assume that it won't take long for more updates and details to start surfacing about "I Am Legend 2."

How might Dr. Neville return?

One of the updates that "I Am Legend" fans are undoubtedly most curious about is how Smith plans to appear in the upcoming film, especially considering his character's apparent death at the climax of the first movie. As of now, no plot details about the film have been released, but, of course, that leaves plenty of room for speculation.

One potential answer could involve a mixture of flashbacks and de-aging software to return Dr. Neville back to his pre-apocalyptic or mid-apocalyptic image. There likely remains plenty of story to be told about the immediate three years after the outbreak of the Krippin Virus. Of course, Smith is no stranger to Hollywood's de-aging practices as a result of his role in 2019's "Gemini Man," a film which sees Smith's character battle a younger version of himself (via IMDb). Admittedly, however, this might be one of the more predictable avenues writers could employ.

Another possible route that returns Dr. Neville to the big screen involves an alternate ending to the original 2007 film. The theatrical cut of "I Am Legend" sees Dr. Neville sacrifice himself in order to save a cure for the future of mankind. On its face, this scene is extremely unambiguous. By the end of the theatrical cut, Dr. Neville is dead. However, ardent fans of the film will also surely remember an alternate ending included on the DVD (via YouTube). 

In addition to proving popular online (via CinemaBlend), the alternate ending is noted for its closer dedication to the source material. Instead of concluding with a dramatic sacrifice, this ending presents Dr. Neville with the opportunity to make peace with the Darkseekers he has been trying to "cure" for so long. Realizing that his experiments have instead made him the monster, Dr. Neville abandons his research and home. Making peace with his new reality, Dr. Neville instead opts to join a group of human survivors in Vermont.

How might Will Smith's slap affect I Am Legend 2?

"I Am Legend 2" was still in early development by the time the 2022 Oscars rolled around. Of course, as everyone knows by now, Will Smith hit Chris Rock during the ceremony after the comedian made a joke at the expense of Smith's wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, and her alopecia. The slap has put a pause on many of Smith's projects that were in the works, some of which were already in post-production, so how might it impact "I Am Legend 2?"

As of this writing, nothing has been stated about the status of the sequel (via People). When Deadline first reported on the development of the movie, a director wasn't even attached yet. It's unclear whether someone will want to helm the project in the wake of the slap, but it's possible this production could go on the back burner for a while until the heat from the slap dies down a bit.