Will Smith is one of my favorite actors but, to be blunt, I did not really like Hancock. You can read my full review HERE. But the TL/DR version is that I thought the film should have stuck with the original premise of an action/comedy about a down-on-his-luck superhero who gets a PR makeover and tries to become better. Instead it revealed this convoluted backstory with the Charlize Theron character and took a much darker turn in the third act. That, with some other illogical scenes, just killed off the promise of this film for me. Nevertheless, the potential is there. And this film grossed over $624 million worldwide, on a $150 million budget. So that makes it unquestionably a success.
I remember seeing several interviews where both Will Smith and Peter Berg talked about plans for a sequel. But 6 years later that still hasn’t materialized. Well, I was browsing around Bleeding Cool and came across a link that someone posted in April: Why Sony Should Create a Hancock Cinematic Universe This article makes some good points about the potential of the character and it’s future. In particular it says:
While Marvel, Fox and Warner Bros. have characters with longstanding histories, “Hancock” is a completely original property. That allows Sony a creative freedom the other studios don’t have. Think about it – a lot of the fans’ frustrations stem from filmmakers taking liberties with source material.That wouldn’t be the case with “Hancock”. There’s no established source material to screw up. The studio wouldn’t have to worry about “Iron Man 3” type of heat. They wouldn’t have the pressure of finding the right actor for an Aquaman or a Lex Luthor or a Wonder Woman
I made a similar point in my review, saying that I’m surprised that more studios haven’t created original superheroes to make films, for many of those same reasons. It’s not without precedent. Disney made The Incredibles and that was huge. And now we just saw the original superhero movie LUCY coming in at #1 this past weekend. Hancock, as an original property, is wide-open for expansion. Not only in telling adventures of this hero, but also in regards to creating spin-offs.
One thing I saw a lot of people mention about the first film, was how it didn’t address race at all. There’s this super-powered Black man flying around L.A., and that idea alone doesn’t freak everyone out? I’d establish that the reason for this is that Hancock isn’t the only public superhero. This takes place in a world where, like the Marvel and DC comic-book universes, superheroes (& villains) have existed for decades. So the public is used to the idea of super-people existing. Like Marvel, most of the heroes are based on the East Coast, which is why we didn’t see any others in the first film. But in the end of that movie Hancock moved to New York, so now he’s interacting with others. And the other great thing about this being original is that you can create new diverse superheroes without anyone complaining about tokenism or race-swapping, because these aren’t existing superheroes. And you can take actors who wouldn’t be thought of as cast for any traditional heroes, by creating new heroes for them.
Denzel Washington said in an interview that he would play a superhero “If there were a good one to play, I’m not against playing a superhero. First of all, I haven’t been offered…”. So let’s create a new hero for Denzel to play in this film.
Donald Glover famously campaigned to play Spider-Man a few years ago, we can create a new hero for him here.
Michelle Rodriguez recently talked about wanting to play a superhero: “There aren’t a lot of chicks that I like at all in comics. As a matter of fact, in order to have one, I’d probably have to invent one. They just don’t exist now.” Okay! Let’s invent one for her!
The possibilities for new characters are virtually endless. They’d have supporting roles in this film, it’s still primarily a Hancock solo movie, with potential for expanded roles in later films.
Unlike the writer of the above article, I wouldn’t waste too much time on following up on the backstory of Hancock and Mary’s lost race of super-people, I wouldn’t even bring Charlize Theron or Jason Bateman back for the sequel, their story ended in the first one. This film should be about Hancock in the modern era. I would establish that Hancock is living in New York, trying to be a traditional superhero. A running gag in the film would be that he keeps creating secret identities for himself, in order to have some time off from being a hero, which I think is important, but it never lasts because people either end up just recognizing him (because glasses are a wack disguise, obviously) or he gets forced to use his powers and blow his cover. This gives Will a chance to show off his comedic skills, as we see him in various guises, like dressed like a nerd with glasses, or maybe in a wig of fake dreadlocks, pretending to be Jamaican, stuff like that. He’s a little more well-liked by the public than he was the last time, but there’s still some mistrust as he tends to cause unnecessary property damage. And he’s still feeling alone, which is another reason for the secret identities, he wants to create a normal life and have friends.
The other heroes come in when Hancock is approached by members of the World’s Greatest Superhero Team (that’s where the other actors as superheroes come in). These guys are everything Hancock wants to be. Loved and adored by the public, they’re friends, etc. They offer Hancock a chance to try out for membership. He’s ecstatic, but then during his test-mission with them he gets carried away with showing off, trying to look good, and makes things worse. So he’s admonished by the team and denied membership. Hancock is dejected, and feels more alone then ever. But then some major supervillain launches a sneak attack against the team, capturing all the other heroes, and then prepares to launch some major scheme. And Hancock is the only superhero left, it’s up to him to stop the villain and rescue the others. This is his chance to prove himself. He succeeds in the end and saves the day. After which he joins the team, and we end with them flying off on a new adventure.
If done right that not only gives us a good sequel to Hancock, but sets up the possibilities for a whole new original superhero franchise. You can get more solo sequels of Hancock, and movies about the new team. And this time I’d do some film tie-ins. The first film didn’t even have a novelization. I’d do that for this film, plus create some action figures, and a line of comic-books. There were several mock-up comic-book covers done for the first film, but no real comics. I’d see about licensing Hancock to a comic-book company like DARK HORSE, IDW or DYNAMITE, for a movie adaptation and an original series.
If anyone at Sony film studios is reading this, give me a call!