Will Smith and a German Sheperd looking out the window of a car in "I Am Legend"

This Is How Will Smith Could Return for ‘I Am Legend 2’

Will Smith will be back as scientist Robert Neville for a decades-in-the-making sequel to 2007’s I Am Legend. But how? I hear you ask. He seemed pretty conclusively dead at the end of the first one! Well, the answer to that is a little complicated, and it all has to do with an alternate ending to the movie, one that in my opinion is vastly superior to the original.

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Much of I Am Legend is great—Will Smith’s performance, for one—but the ending completely threw away one of the most important parts of the Richard Matheson book on which it’s based. Instead of coming to understand that the Darkseekers are not actually monsters and he was wrong to harm them, Neville sacrifices himself to take a group of them out, and thus save the cure for the virus that’s infected the population. That was apparently the ending test audiences preferred … but it’s no longer the canonical one.

What is the alternate ending?

Will Smith in the alternate "I Am Legend" ending (Warner Bros.)
(Warner Bros.)

In the alternate ending, Neville doesn’t die. Instead, he sees the alpha male of the Darkseekers go to great lengths to rescue his female partner, whom Neville has captured, and once the female is safe, the Darkseekers leave without hurting Neville. The scientist is struck by the horrible realization that, in the eyes of the Darkseekers, he is the monster.

And this is the ending I Am Legend 2 will use to continue its story. Writer Akiva Goldsman confirmed this in February 2023:

This will start a few decades later than the first. I’m obsessed with “The Last of Us,” where we see the world just post-apocalypse but also after a 20-30-year lapse. You see how the earth reclaims the world, and there’s something beautiful in the question of, as man steps away from being the primary tenant, what happens? […] We trace back to the original Matheson book, and the alternate ending as opposed to the released ending in the original film. What Matheson was talking about was that man’s time on the planet as the dominant species had come to an end. That’s a really interesting thing we’re going to get to explore. There will be a little more fidelity to the original text.

So, good news for fans of the book.

Who is in I Am Legend 2?

There’s only one other confirmed cast member for I Am Legend 2 at the moment, and that’s Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan. Smith said in 2022 that Jordan was “a part of creating the idea” for the sequel, and that he was planning to leave the franchise alone until Jordan’s proposal.

I Am Legend 2 might also see a return for Alicia Braga, who played Anna. She told Collider in May 2023:

I was almost jumping on the phone and saying, “Can I please be in it? Can I please be in it? Can I please be in it?” I’m a huge a Akiva fan, I think he’s such a wonderful writer … [I Am Legend] was my first American film, I was very excited to hear that they were continuing with the movie.

Will the adorable dog be back?

I Am Legend had a non-human co-star in Sam the dog, the poor doomed animal companion of Neville who he’s eventually forced to kill. Sam was played by two very good girls called Abbey and Kona, with Abbey as the primary dog actress and Kona doing extra scenes when Abbey wasn’t available. Kona has reportedly passed away, but Abbey was still alive as of 2022, so could she make a triumphant return as Sam in I Am Legend 2?

Sorry, guys, but you gotta face it: Sam is dead. Robert Neville may have lived on in the alternate ending but Sam has definitely gone to the great dog park in the sky. Maybe he’ll find a new best friend?

Does I Am Legend 2 have a release date?

There’s no confirmed release date for the movie yet, and it’s important to remember that SAG-AFTRA is still on strike, so don’t expect I Am Legend 2 anytime soon. Definitely one to look forward to, however! You never know, maybe we’ll get another cute dog.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.