29 August 2021 370 Views

#WTAF (Weird Theories about Film). The Curse of Will Smith?

by James Murphy

Relax, calm down. NOT the man himself. No. The curse is in NOT using him or in failing to secure his services, as planned / mooted.

 

Consider the following, as evidence, circumstantial and otherwise ;)..

 

  • THE SUICIDE SQUAD: 

I enjoyed this film and will always defend its balance of auteur vision and commercial possibility. Tonal confusion and lulls in pace aside? It’s good. Has it underperformed? Maybe. Much of that is a Covid thing as well as confusion caused by its similarity in title to the preceding film and muddled connection to a now all but non existent DC ‘universe’.

But there is another factor here in depleted returns, perhaps. The lack of WILL SMITH! Idris Elba is equally cool and adept at action and indeed, a box office star in own right. But Idris’ kryptonite is comedy, imho. Yes, he was in THE OFFICE but that was as a scripted straight foil to Steve Carell. Smith is a better improv comedian, which is exactly what THE SUICIDE SQUAD required. You can feel the absence and the vacuum it created.

 

  • INDEPENDENCE DAY 2 /MEN IN BLACK 4:

ID4-2 SHOULD have been the sequel to end all sequels. A true ‘resurgence’. Except that, it wasn’t, was it? Failed. ON EVERY LEVEL. Commercially, critically, creatively. Now just IMAGINE if they’d had Will Smith on board? Seriously. He’d have been the President. Finds himself beset by critics and plotters so turns to Bill Pullman and Jeff Goldblum for help, just as the aliens decide to attack again. Oh what might have been. Imagine Will giving a speech akin to Pullman’s in the first movie. THAT!

MEN IN BLACK: INTERNATIONAL is by no means a ‘bad’ film. Great editing by Christian Wagner. Liam Neeson is funny and scary. Another action/comedic turn from Thor himself (Hemsworth). But without direct DNA continuity to the Will Smith episodes 1,2 and 3 of the same movie series? It just felt redundant. Sorry! 

 

 

  • SNAKE EYES: No, not the rubbish GI Joe spin off. I mean the 1998 summer thriller with NICOLAS CAGE. It’s a fine thriller and I love it. But just think how big the box office would have been had WILL SMITH been in it, too, as planned, initially.

 

  • SUPERMAN and CAPTAIN AMERICA:

Yep, Smith almost played both of these iconic all American super-heroes. Almost. The world was not quite ready for that? Nonsense. The studios simply panicked, perhaps, at the fact that Will was, by then, a star name whose salary, points and creative say would not match the ethos of micro managed comic book branding?

Equally, he was reluctant, given that he no longer required a banner name franchise character as his portfolio of parts diversified.

Did either Cap or Kal-el suffer for not being played by Smith? No, not directly, at least. Chris Evans, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill: all good! 

But what is interesting is that, had Will accepted the call, a decade ago? Then there is a case, however thin, to answer that the current crisis over race and reinvention of super-hero myth, could have been avoided? Because we’d have had an apex star power playing one or even more of these headline heroes, on account merely of his charisma, skill and charm. And he HAPPENED to be black and 100% American Dream.

Will Smith as Superman /Captain America = nowhere to ‘go’ for the corporate opportunists who now weaponise race politics in a pitiful attempt imho to cover for a lack of plot and character definition in rebooting franchises. And the world would be a better place for that.

 

  • THE MATRIX / WILD WILD WEST :

KEANU REEVES IS NEO. He was in 1999 and remains so for the forthcoming 2022 reboot/sequel ‘ MATRIX: RESURRECTIONS‘. One could make a case that Will Smith was wise to decline the Neo role, in fact. His style when in movie star mode is too confident and cool to pass as the fish out of water turned over earnest messiah: a part suited far better to Reeves? And yet, it’s also interesting to note that Smith’s wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, appears in Matrix 2 and 3. Had Will been on board with Jada? Then their chemistry plus influence and creatively, just might have improved both RELOADED and REVOLUTIONS (neither of which match the first Matrix in quality).

In any event, Will chose to make WILD WILD WEST in 1999 rather than enter THE MATRIX. It’s the one hole in this theory. Or the exception that perhaps proves the rule? Some movies are cursed to be a bit shit, with or without the amazing Mr Smith!

THE FUTURE..

Whatever Will does next? Be it blockbuster action or Oscar winning biopic? You can guarantee the man gives 100% of his work ethic, talent and charm. THAT is his gift. Great actor. Movie Star. Relentless worker. Effortlessly cool, forever! In the short term: look out for his latest turn in KING RICHARD (Tennis biopic about the Williams sisters: Will plays the Dad). 



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