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Will Smith's Sci-Fi Action Movie History

Will Smith's Sci-Fi Action Movie History

(10/02/2019)

From Fresh Prince to blockbuster superstar and everything (including a hip-hop career) in between, Will Smith has proven that he can do it all – and his busy schedule proves it. In addition to starring in this year’s live-action remake of ALADDIN, in which he played the charismatic Genie, Smith is headlining another major 2019 film: GEMINI MAN.

Directed by Ang Lee (LIFE OF PI), the new sci-fi action epic pits Smith against a younger clone of himself in a pulse-pounding thriller that utilizes groundbreaking digital effects. As any Will Smith fan will tell you, this is hardly the actor’s first sci-fi action movie – in fact, some of his best roles have been in sci-fi action movies, and we’re taking a look back at his greatest hits.

Independence Day

Independence Day

[Image Credit: 20th Century Fox]


Just one year after 1995’s BAD BOYS launched Will Smith into movie super-stardom, the former Fresh Prince cemented his blockbuster status with one of the best sci-fi action movies of all time: INDEPENDENCE DAY. Smith played a skilled Marine pilot who goes to battle with mysterious extraterrestrials to defend Earth from destruction. His upbeat performance, even in the fact of Earth's potential annihilation, helped turn the movie into perfect popcorn entertainment.

Men in Black

Men in Black

[Image Credit: Columbia Pictures]


Smith didn't stay away from aliens for long, and he delivered another spot-on performance in MEN IN BLACK. As Agent J, a New York cop recruited to work for a top secret agency that polices extraterrestrial activity on Earth, Smith gets to play off of dour straight man Tommy Lee Jones. It's a classic comedy setup, with the bonus of wild aliens and outlandish weapons.

Wild Wild West

Wild Wild West

[Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]


There are many flavors of sci-fi action, and as Will Smith showed us in 1999, that includes the Western. In WILD WILD WEST, Smith stars as former U.S. Army captain Jim West, who teams up with Kevin Kline’s U.S. Marshal Artemus Gordon to defeat a mad scientist. Kline and Smith make for a delightful buddy cop team in this wacky action adventure that features Kenneth Branagh as a deranged villain whose big weapon is a giant robot spider.

I, Robot

I, Robot

[Image Credit: 20th Century Fox]


Smith went to the darker side of sci-fi in 2004’s I, ROBOT. The story is set in a future in which humans are served by robots programmed to abide by Isaac Asmiov’s "Three Laws of Robotics." The first and most important of those laws is that robots may not injure humans. When a genius robotics engineer falls to his death, Smith’s Detective Del Spooner, who hates robots, conducts an investigation that leads him to believe the inventor’s own robot is responsible. This movie sees Smith playing someone more like the Tommy Lee Jones character from MEN IN BLACK — his sci-fi persona has grown up!

I Am Legend

I Am Legend

[Image Credit: Warner Bros. Pictures]


Based on Richard Matheson’s classic sci-fi novel, 2007’s I AM LEGEND stars Smith as Robert Neville, a U.S. Army virologist and the only survivor of a virus that wiped out most of mankind. Those who didn't die have mostly been transformed into hideous, murderous mutant creatures that only come out at night. Amid all his sci-fi outings, Smith’s performance here reminded us that he’s capable of bringing dramatic heat, even in a post-apocalyptic action flick. It doesn't hurt that director Francis Lawrence guides all the action to one heck of an ending.

Hancock

Hancock

[Image Credit: Columbia / TriStar]


Will Smith has never starred in a Marvel movie, but he has starred in his own superhero movie... kind of. Here, he plays John Hancock, a deeply flawed vigilante superhero whose carelessness results in casual destruction of the city he’s trying to protect. With the help of a publicist whose life he saved, Hancock attempts to rehab his image. The road to self-improvement brings him face to face with an equally powerful super-villain, in this darkly comedic spin on the superhero genre.

After Earth

After Earth

[Image Credit: Columbia Pictures]


From master of cinematic twists M. Night Shyamalan comes this post-apocalyptic sci-fi action story, starring Smith and his real-life son, Jaden Smith. AFTER EARTH is set in the 31st century, as humans have fled Earth due to an ongoing battle with alien forces. Smith plays a high-ranking officer in a futuristic military who, along with his son, is stranded on a hostile planet and forced to fight for his life. Jaden Smith is really the star here, but it is a pleasure to see his father take on the role of an elder sci-fi statesman.

Now, GEMINI MAN brings Smith's career full-circle, as filmmaker Ang Lee developed a CGI version of the actor that essentially replicates Smith as he was when he took the role in INDEPENDENCE DAY. This is a future none of us ever could have predicted 25 years ago.

GEMINI MAN continues Will Smith's sci-fi streak on October 11!