• I Am Legend 2 is a surprising sequel to the 2007 film, and its success hinges on following the story of the original novel more closely.
  • The original film deviated significantly from the book, but I Am Legend 2 has the opportunity to retcon those changes and align itself with the source material.
  • Following the alternate ending of the first film, which is more faithful to the book, will allow I Am Legend 2 to explore deeper themes and potentially save it from being a weak sequel.

I Am Legend 2, a sequel to the 2007 film starring Will Smith, is in development, and the film’s existence does make sense on the proviso it follows the story of its source material. I Am Legend is a loose adaptation of the 1954 novel of the same name by Richard Matheson. Like the book, the film follows Dr. Robert Neville, seemingly the only survivor of an infectious outbreak that has killed the majority of humans but turned some into a new breed of vampires, known as “Darkseekers” in the film.

The news of I Am Legend 2 was a surprise. While the original film was a success upon release, it wasn’t the most likely candidate for a sequel, especially as the theatrical cut of I Am Legend sees the hero of the film, Smith’s Robert Neville, meet his end. This was a huge deviation from the source material and a decision that I Am Legend 2 is set to retcon. In doing so, I Am Legend 2 has the opportunity to align itself more closely with the book, which could be the key to its success.

RELATED: I Am Legend 2: Story, Cast & Everything We Know

I Am Legend Ignored The Book’s Second Half

Will Smith in I Am Legend-1

As is often the case with film adaptations of novels, I Am Legend couldn’t cover everything from the book in its 100-minute runtime. It also makes significant deviations from the source material. In Matheson’s novel, Neville meets a woman named Ruth, who at first appears to be completely human but later turns out to be a different kind of infected. These vampires have found a way to control their bloodlust and not fully succumb to the infection, so a group of them are beginning to rebuild society. The I Am Legend movie ignores this revelation, arguably giving some justification for I Am Legend 2‘s existence.

I Am Legend‘s relationship with the original novel is complicated by its two different endings. In the theatrical cut, Neville sacrifices himself to save fellow survivors, the mother-son duo Anna and Ethan, which is how he becomes the titular “Legend.” In the I Am Legend alternate ending, however, Neville realizes that the infected have retained some of their human intelligence and emotions; they relentlessly attack him because he’s been kidnapping and conducting experiments on their loved ones. While not an exact retelling, the alternate ending more closely follows the sentiments of the novel. I Am Legend 2 will only make a compelling film if it continues this plot thread.

RELATED: How I Am Legend’s Ending Is Different In The Book

Following The Book Will Save I Am Legend 2’s Story

Will Smith as Neville and Alice Braga as Anna in I Am Legend

I Am Legend swaps the character of Ruth for Anna and Ethan, who, unlike Ruth, are not suggested to be any kind of Darkseeker – at least not in the first movie. Instead, Anna and Ethan claim to be survivors who came to the U.S. on a Red Cross evacuation ship from Brazil in search of a survivor’s camp in Vermont. Neville has no knowledge of this camp, but he journeys to Vermont with them in the I Am Legend alternate ending. It’s been confirmed that this is the ending that I Am Legend 2 will follow, giving the film the opportunity to more closely align with the book once again.

With Smith returning as Neville and confirmation that the film will be set years after the events of the first film, it’s more than possible that the survivor’s camp could turn out to be the sort of settlement Ruth is a part of in the book. This opens up possibilities to explore deeper meanings and darker subjects, like social classifications and the morality of Neville’s experiments in the first film. This, in turn, could save I Am Legend 2 from being a weak follow-up to the original movie.

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