Making a film doesn't always go as planned. Crafting the perfect narrative is tricky business, and works more like building a jigsaw than writing something like a novel, since the moving parts are often jammed together in whatever way works to get to the finished product. Even if you've got all the corner pieces organised into a lovely framework, the middle is definitely still a mess of shaved down chunks that get squashed in to get the whole experience over with. No-one likes doing jigsaws. This is always the only outcome.
And as with movies too, various parts of the process are regularly cut down or switched out to make something vaguely coherent at the end. All too often, the beautiful finished picture we could have ended up with is a mish-mashed tangle of ideas, inputs, and studio influence, meaning some of the best parts are the ones left behind. This is bad enough, but when it comes to endings, some of the worst offenders are the alternate takes left on the cutting room floor.
The finales that would have made their movies aren't always the ones we get, but that doesn't mean we can't pick up the forgotten parts and wistfully see what could have been...
8. I Am Legend
If there's one superior alternate ending that has been spoken about at great length over the years, it's the one left behind by I Am Legend. Adapted from a novel that largely follows the same structure, it's the film's closing act that decides to take a different take on the source material - throwing away what would have been a far more nuanced and impressive ending to a blockbuster in the process.
The story depicts Will Smith as one of the last men standing after a plague has wiped out humanity as we know it, working tirelessly each day attempting to distil a cure that will end the race of crazy vampires - aka darkseekers - has sprung up in the darkest corners of the city. To do this, he captures and experiments on infected patients, eventually getting a blood sample that contains the antidote before blowing his laboratory to the high heavens defending it from the vengeful darkseekers. That's all well and good, but what was supposed to happen in the original cut gave the plot far more intrigue than this simple action packed ending.
Instead, Smith would face off against one of the big bad infected in his laboratory as usual - only the darkseeker would be searching for his mate being experimented on and signal her butterfly tattoo. Smith would recognise that they're far more intelligent than he'd given them credit for and that his work has been traumatising their society, the titular legend being of his boogeyman status to these people rather than that of his antidote.
It would've made their struggle far more complex than simple good versus bad as the overarching theme, but the studio opted for a more easily packaged finale. Shame.