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April 7th, 2008:
Edgy, conflicted, sarcastic, and misunderstood, Hancock's well-intentioned heroics might get the job done and save countless lives, but always seem to leave jaw-dropping damage in their wake. The public has finally had enough – as grateful as they are to have their local hero, the good citizens of Los Angeles are wondering what they ever did to deserve this guy. Hancock (Will Smith
) isn't the kind of man who cares what other people think – until the day that he saves the life of PR executive Ray Embrey (Jason Bateman
), and the sardonic superhero begins to realize that he may have a vulnerable side after all. Facing that will be Hancock's greatest challenge yet – and a task that may prove impossible as Ray's wife, Mary (Charlize Theron
), insists that he's a lost cause.What to Expect:
This is the sad story of Hancock: the film that had all the potential in the world that was squandered by profit seeking producers and the studios that fund them. The original script tackled a uniquely original concept that revolved around a superhero, who continues to try to do good, but is completely disenfranchised from the society he tries to protect. As a result, he becomes a homeless alcoholic and is despised by the people he protects even though he continues to do good. This script was unique in that it presented a very different perspective of the modern day superhero as compared to some other mainstream heroes we are used to seeing like Superman or Spiderman. Hollywood saw the potential with the script but the need for profits clouded their judgment and they decided to take it and turn it into a main stream action movie. They hired an A-list actor, proven stars, invested millions into cutting edge special effects and softened the character to be more appealing to the masses. Unfortunately, in the process they completely lost sight of what the original script was truly attempting to do. In the end, they will probably have a summer blockbuster on their hands, but we will never know what could have been, had Hollywood not meddled. Article continues below
This movie is based on a script entitled "Tonight He Comes" written twelve years ago by new comer Vincent Ngo (he has since penned Fearless and Hostage). It focused on a hero who possessed all the superpowers of Superman but none of the heroic attributes. The hero lived in a trailer, drank too much, and was really more interested in womanizing than saving people, despite the fact that he was impotent. What kept him going was his power to hear people when they are in trouble, and he saved them purely out of the need to silence the cries rather than any sense of duty. One day, purely by chance, he meets a married woman named Mary whom he immediately has feelings for. Her husband, Horus, is a very reserved and passive person, considered a push over by most. Mary and her son Aaron are both impressed with the hero since he presents such a contrast to Mary's husband. As time passes, the hero begins spending more and more time with both Mary and Aaron while Horus is at work as a night security guard at a department store. The hero decides that he is going to reveal his love for Mary, however when he does, Mary is turned off because she realizes that despite the excitement of being courted by a real life superhero, she still loves her husband. Meanwhile, while all this is going on, the store that Horus is guarding gets robbed by a gang of hoodlums. As a result, he breaks out of his shell and saves the day, winning back the respect from his entire family. This story shows that it is not super powers that make you a hero.
This script was very well received in Hollywood, but no one really knew what to do with it, thus it remained unclaimed for years, eventually earning the reputation as one of the best undeveloped scripts in Hollywood. Finally, writer (Cinderella Man)/producer (I am Legend
) Akiva Goldsman convinced Artisan to acquire the screenplay solely based on the fact that it was his favorite script. The studio set up the film with him producing and Michael Mann
(Heat) directing, but Mann decided to play Russian roulette with his career and left the project to direct the stinker: Miami Vice. Mann remained on the project as a producer, but without him directing, Artisan abandoned the project, eventually placing it on turnaround. Goldsman jumped on the opportunity and bought the rights himself. He hired screenwriter Vince Gilligan (X-Files) to rewrite Ngo's original script and Jonathan Mostow
(Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) was attached to direct. Mostow created a ten page take of the movie, specifically geared to recruit Will Smith, who after reading the take, agreed to star. In exchange, Smith's and James Lassiter's production company, Overbook Entertainment, was given a piece of the action. With the addition of Smith to the cast and production the project was catapulted from being the best undeveloped script in Hollywood to Will Smith's next summer blockbuster and the major studios began circling like hyenas.
Columbia Pictures eventually won out because of the studio's prior relationship with Smith on "Hitch" and the "Men in Black" franchise. The script was promptly rewritten again to make the character more appealing to a wider audience and to allow for sequels. The story still revolved around a drunk, womanizing, homeless superhero named Hancock. The name came about when a young fan asked for the hero's autograph and the hero sarcastically signed "John Hancock." This is very similar to the original concept, except the new script tries to rationalize Hancock's behavior by claiming that he is actually a super-human created thousands of years ago, but twenty years ago he got hit in the head and got amnesia, and this accident turned him into the misfit that he is.
Most people in the city are fed up with Hancock because he causes a lot of collateral damage and does not answer to anyone. He is rude and sarcastic to both fans and critics alike until one day he saves the life of a corporate PR executive. The PR guy decides to repay Hancock by helping him rebuild his image. He gets Hancock to shave and clean up his personal appearance. He also convinces the hero to face punishment for all the damage he has committed and some of the minor crimes he stands accused of, one of which was actually statuary rape for having sex with a consenting seventeen year old. Hancock serves some time in jail and while he is away, the people of the city begin to realize that they need him around. Upon his return, he is forgiven and welcomed back, all thanks to this one guy. However, there is still one problem: Hancock has now fallen in love with the PR executive's wife.
The new script tries to rationalize Hancock's pursuit of his friend's wife by saying that he does not do this because he is a bastard but that the exec's wife is actually of the same super race and the two were created as partners. But, there is one catch: when they are together, both lose their powers making her his kryptonite, how corny. Well there is one huge problem here: Hancock does not have a super villain to really challenge him. To alleviate this plot shortcoming, the city is threatened by a convict armed with a nuclear weapon. This little wrinkle comes out of nowhere in the story and was really added to stay true to the standard hero story arc. Now Hancock must choose between ruining his friend's marriage or being a hero and saving the city. Well let me guess where it goes from here: Hancock realizes that what he is doing is wrong and cannot be with the wife because it would make him lose his powers, so he overcomes his problems and becomes a real superhero.
Columbia was extremely happy with the new script. It started with an extremely unlikeable superhero but by the end of it they had a clean-cut, good-natured superhero ready for sequels and promotional deals. The new theme revolves around overcoming personal hardships and personality flaws to become a hero, which is much more Hollywood-friendly. Once the movie was re-titled from the porno sounding "Tonight He Comes" to the much more marketable "Hancock," the transformation from independent script to big budget blockbuster was complete. However, not everyone was that happy with this transformation, especially the man who brought Smith into the mix in the first place: the director, Mostow. He quickly left the project citing "creative differences." The helmer was quickly replaced by Gabriele Muccino
, mainly because Smith liked working with him so much on "Pursuit of Happiness
." To give time for Muccino to wrap up "Happiness," production was pushed back six months. However, within weeks of agreeing to direct the project, Muccino reneged because "a movie about a superhero going through a midlife crisis just isn't for him." With the project now in disarray, Smith went on to film "I Am Legend" also being produced by Goldsman. Smith hoped that the extra time would allow the "the film to marinate.
" So while he worked on "Legend," Goldsman and the other producers got the project ready for filming.
When Smith wrapped "Legend," "Hancock" had finally found a director in Peter Berg
(The Kingdom) who was on the same page with the producers and willing to see the film through. Michael Mann had pushed for Berg because the two men have had a long working relationship which includes Mann producing Berg's "Kingdom
" and Mann casting Berg as an actor in "Collateral." Berg, in turn, understood that the producers did not want some sad drama or a cautionary tale about Hancock. Instead as Berg put it, "We're introducing a new superhero; it's just that he's got some problems. But at its core, this is an attempt to create a brand-new superhero.
" In addition to a director, the film also added two more stars to help Smith out in Jason Bateman ("Arrested Development") as the PR exec and Charlize Theron as his wife. Bateman was a very good casting choice since his comedic talents will work well with Smith's sarcastic character. The combination of these two actors should give this action movie some memorable comedy as well. Bateman also has experience working with Berg on "The Kingdom" and Theron when she did a guest role on "Development." Theron in turn was also a very good choice. She has the physic to play a superhero and is attractive enough to make the love triangle more believable. She also really liked the script, claiming that it was, "smart and complicated, with a lot of conflict.
Now after years of delays, the movie was finally ready to film, which eventually went off without a hitch. The cast worked very well together. Smith was likable and funny as usual and even did all of his own stunts. The other cast members worked off Smith's charisma, creating relatively good camaraderie between the characters.In Conclusion:
"Hancock" had the potential to create the new modern, disenfranchised superhero. Unfortunately, the need for money destroyed all of that. Now the movie will start as that and end with your standard clean-cut hero. And unlike other similar movies, Hancock will not have an existing fan base, since there is no comic book behind it or a villain equal to Hancock's powers. It will have everything you expect from a summer blockbuster: an A list cast, some comedy, lots of expensive special effects, and themes that will not challenge you too much. I am sure that with Smith, Bateman and Theron starring, the movie will be entertaining enough. However, it might have a really hard time making the money that Columbia expects from it in this summer's saturated superhero market.Similar Titles: Superman Returns
, Wild Wild West