So we here at OWA are celebrating Independence Day, also known as the anniversary of the day Will Smith saved the entire human race. The locust-like aliens move from planet to planet consuming all the natural resources, as if we are not doing that fast enough ourselves, but fortunately Will Smith steps in and gives us a true independence day, independence from annhilation. He flies a virus-carrying nuclear device (over kill mumbo jumbo anyone?) into the mothership and gets revenge for what they did to our white house on the cover of the DVD. This is Will Smith saving the world for the first time (although one could argue he saved us from too much Jazzy Jeff by abandoning him for Bel Air, possibly saving the world). While hardly the most prolific actor working, Will Smith does seem to save the world more than his fair share of times. Truly, the former rapper and one-time founder of a failed scientology elementary school has an impressive resume that can take on any avenger or man in a bat suit.
MEN IN BLACK – One year after the aliens of INDEPENDENCE DAY, Will Smith finds himself recruited into a top secret task force to deal with these off-world invaders. While only a rookie, Smith defeats the Tommy Lee Jones-ingesting Edgar the Bug by stepping on his cockroach cousins and distracting him until his partner blows a whole out of him from inside. While the world at stake is not really our world, but another galaxy inside a marble, another group of aliens threatens to destroy our world if Smith cannot save the bitty wittle galaxy – so by the transitive property of world saving, Smith saved our world again.
WILD WILD WEST – Will Smith, now living during the post-civil war reconstruction, is recruited by Ulysses S. Grant to ride a giant mechanical spider and defeat some crazy ex Confederate scientist who drives around in a steam powered wheel chair and wants to give the US back to Great Britain, France, Spain and Mexico (sorry Russia, we hadn’t bought Alaska yet). Smith saves the ‘Golden Spike’ ceremony, making the US the trans ocean power it is and thus saving the world (see WWI, WWII).
ALI - Arguably the greatest movie ever made about an African-American boxer by a Caucasian Male, Will Smith saved the world by regaining his title in Zaire which was stripped from him when he refused to be drafted for the Vietnam War. How does this save the world, you ask? If George Foreman had won this fight, he never would have had to make a comeback, in his middle 40’s only achievable through health and eating habits, giving his name and influence to the George Foreman Grill, which has saved hundreds of thousands of people through better dietary habits.
MEN IN BLACK 2 – Obviously, if the government has need for a secret agency that deals with alien intrigue wanting to destroy our world, this sort of thing happens all the time. In this installment, Smith saves the world from a shapeshifting lingerie model fresh out of twin peaks by feeding her to a worm that lives in the NYC subway. Also, Michael Jackson works at MIB, so Smith saves us from so many MJ headlines by distracting him with Alien Ambassador work.
I, ROBOT – In the future, Will Smith saves us from a robot uprising (clearly this is coming, read the writing on the wall) by deciphering the artwork of a dreaming robot (which, incidentally, is not of sheep). Smith also saves us from having to think too hard, as Executive Producer of the film, which is based only in the broadest strokes on the works of Isaac Asimov.
I AM LEGEND – A virologist, Will Smith saves the world by finding a cure for the zombie-making infection that decimated the world’s population, with only a dog by his side… until that tragic “all is lost” moment, actually one of the most powerful scenes Smith has ever put to film. Unfortunately, with rumors of another film in the works, Will Smith was not able to save us from yet another adaptation of Richard Matheson’s novel.
HANCOCK – Clearly as a super hero, Will Smith can save the day whenever he wants, despite his character being an alcoholic, and in general, a jerk. Admittedly, I’ve never seen this film. But the back story is almost more interesting than the film—the original spec from 12 years earlier, a gritty melodrama that became a big budget comedy is another classic Hollywood story. What this film really did end up saving the world from was, really, another Will Smith film for like 4 years. Well, except for SEVEN POUNDS, which came out six months later, a sentimental fable that makes the Bad Boys series look deep.
MEN IN BLACK 3 – After a few years away devising a school to save us from, I don’t know, rational thought, Smith returned to the big, big budget world of his biggest franchise to save the world from Boris "the Animal," a Boglodite, by using a time travel device to… does anybody really care anymore? These plots are just preposterous to try to summarize. No one sees a Men In Black movie because it’s a good story. They want silly special effects and cgi slime. And fortunately, it was in 3D. Right?
AFTER EARTH – There’s isn’t really much left of Earth to save in this SciFi thriller directed by M. Night Shyamalan, which brought in double its budget at the box but was still considered an embarrassing flop. Somehow, however, 1,000 years into our future, Will Smith gives us an Earth rich in resources and animal life, something he’s been protecting since Independence Day. Other than that, this film is mostly interesting for the conversations about the thinly-veiled racism at the core of many of the reviews that focused on nepotism (as if the Sheens haven’t been in films together for years).
No word yet on the next time Will Smith will save our world, but he will be saving the lives of NFL players in CONCUSION and probably attempt to destroy the world (a nice change of pace) in SUICIDE SQUAD. Rest assured when the aliens do come, and they will, (or they are already here inside us living as Phaetons, as members of Smith’s elementary school may have been taught – no one really knows), Will Smith is ready to stand up to them.