The plot and ending of the original movie “I am Legend” that was released in theaters is as follows;
December 2009, military virologist Lieutenant Colonel Robert Neville (Will Smith), lost his wife Zoe (Salli Richardson) and daughter Marley (Willow Smith) in a helicopter accident during the chaotic quarantine of Manhattan. K.V. (Krippen Virus), a genetically-engineered variant of the measles virus meant as a cancer cure, mutates into a lethal strain and spreads throughout the world, killing 5.4 billion people (90% of humanity). In September 2012, Neville is the last healthy human in New York City. Of the 600 million survivors worldwide, only 12 million were naturally immune to the virus. The rest degenerated into hairless, aggressive beings referred to as “Darkseekers,” who hunted the immune humans as prey. The “Darkseekers” are so named for hiding during daylight due to a painful intolerance to UV radiation. The infected show increased speed, agility, aggression and strength. They also have an increased metabolic rate, which consumes the infected with an overwhelming hunger, making them resort to cannibalism. Despite their primal behavior, the Darkseekers display some basic problem-solving intelligence and the capacity for organization.
Neville’s daily routine includes experimenting on infected rats to find a cure for the virus and trips through a decaying Manhattan to collect supplies from abandoned homes or hunt for the deer that have moved into the city. He also keeps vigil each day for a response to his continuous recorded AM radio broadcasts, which instruct any survivors to meet him at midday at the South Street Seaport. Neville’s isolation is broken only by the companionship of his German Shepherd Sam and interaction with mannequins he has set up as patrons of a video store.
When one of his rat experiments shows a promising treatment, Neville sets a snare trap and captures an infected woman. An enraged Darkseeker alpha male of the pack, attempts to rescue her, but is driven back by the sunlight. Neville notes this unusual behavior in a daily video log he records. Back in his laboratory, in the basement of his heavily fortified Washington Square Park home, Neville tries the new serum on the infected woman without success.
The next day, after finding one of his mannequins out in the street in front of Grand Central Terminal, he is caught in a snare trap himself and passes out. When he regains consciousness and manages to get free, it is dusk and Neville and Sam are attacked by a pack of infected dogs. Although Neville and Sam manage to kill the dogs, one bites Sam during the fight. Although dogs are immune to the airborne virus strain, they are susceptible to the contact strain. Neville brings Sam home and attempts to save Sam by injecting the dog with a strain of his serum. Neville sees a piece of Sam’s fur fall, pupils fully dilate, and gums become inflamed. Neville is forced to strangle Sam when the virus takes over and the dog attempts to bite him.
The next night, overcome by grief and rage after burying his only friend, Neville attacks a group of the infected with his UV light equipped SUV. He attempts to end his life in this suicide attack, while taking as many of them with him as he can. Despite killing a large number of Darkseekers, they overwhelm Neville and nearly kill him before he is rescued by a pair of immune humans, an adult woman named Anna (Alice Braga) and a young boy named Ethan (Charlie Tahan), who followed his radio broadcasts. Anna and Ethan take injured Neville back to his home, where Anna explains that they are making their way to a survivors’ camp in Bethel, Vermont.
The next night, the alpha male leads a mob of infected Darkseekers in an attack on the house. Anna was unaware of Neville’s precautions in covering his scent outside the house, inadvertently allowing the Darkseekers to follow their trail and discover Neville’s home. When the Darkseekers charge the house, Neville uses strong UV work lights to push the mob back, but the infected easily shatter the lights and continue their attack. Neville then uses claymore mines and manages to kill the first wave. However, Neville has no more defenses against the second wave of Darkseekers. Neville tries to find Anna and Ethan, but before he can, the alpha male enters and attacks Neville. After managing to force the alpha male into retreating, Neville realizes it was just a distraction as another Darkseeker gained entry and began tearing a hole in the roof so other infected can get in.
After Neville saves Anna and Ethan, they hear the infected climbing the house, so they retreat into the basement laboratory. They seal themselves in a reinforced plexiglass room with the infected woman, where they discover that Neville’s treatment is working: the subject looks much more human. The infected break in and the alpha male starts throwing himself against the plexiglass separating them, cracking the material. Discovering that the last treatment has been successful, Neville draws a vial of the infected woman’s blood and gives it to Anna before shutting them inside a coal chute hidden in the back of the lab. He uses an M67 hand grenade to wipe out the attackers at the cost of his own life and the healed woman’s.
Anna and Ethan are later seen driving in Vermont and stopping at the gated entrance to the survivors’ colony, where Anna hands over the cure. In a voice-over, Anna claims that the survivors are Neville’s legacy, as his fight for a cure became legend.
The original ending of the movie is as follows;
I really love the movie “I Am Legend”. I have seen it several times in the theater and on DVD and love it more each time. The scene at the end where the vampire creatures break into Robert Neville’s lab is intense and amazing, and I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t how it should have played out. This ending below is what we should have seen.
For those unaware, let me explain the concept of Richard Matheson’s book to help clarify why this original ending was so amazing to finally see. The entire purpose of the title I Am Legend is that in the book, Robert Neville actually is the last man on the planet. And he has switched places from our reality of what we perceive as legend, to actually being the legend. As in, vampires are “legendary” to us because they’re a myth from fantasy. In the book, Robert Neville is “legendary” because he is that myth and goes out day after day hunting them. With the original theatrical ending, they never actually touched on that idea at all – but when you think about, that’s a pretty damn cool concept.
While an ending that direct wouldn’t have worked at all in this interpretation of I Am Legend, the way this original ending plays out actually caters much more to that concept than the one we saw in theaters. I love the dynamic between Neville and the lead vampire, especially when he finally brushes up against next to him and comes in contact with him. He never got that close to any of them in movie and seeing that gave me a chill. It’s rare that I’m this moved by something like an alternate ending, but this was truly breathtaking!
This is the kind of situation where I want to break the rules because I want to show Warner Brothers that the actual audiences in America would have accepted this ending and preferred it over the one that made it into the final theatrical cut. Although I Am Legend performed amazingly well at the box office anyway, I think this is a much more profound and emotional ending.
Cast of the Movie I am Legend
- Will Smith as Dr. Robert Neville
- Alice Braga as Anna
- Emma Thompson as Dr. Alice Krippin (Uncredited)
- Charlie Tahan as Ethan
- Salli Richardson as Zoe Neville
- Willow Smith as Marley Neville
- Dash Mihok as Infected alpha male.
- Joanna Numata as Infected alpha female.
- Darrell Foster as Mike
- Abbey & Kona as Sam, the dog.
- Pat Fraley as Voice of President of the United States.
- Mike Patton as Creature vocal effects.