I Am Legend – Movie vs. Book

I Am Legend (Full-Screen Edition) VS I Am Legend
Last night I watched “I Am Legend” on the big screen. You can find out more details by going to the Warner Brothers website for “I am Legend” I thought the movie was well done, but it deviated from the book written by Richard Matheson in the late 50’s.

WARNING: I am going to give away a lot of information that will spoil the movie and the book if you have not read them. So do not read any more if you plan on seeing the movie and don’t want to know what happens.


In this entry I am going to go over the differences between the book and the movie and discuss my opinion on the changes that were made. There are some differences that I like better in the movie and others I like better in the book. I will be discussing both of them.

First, the location. In the movie it is located in Manhattan, and the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges are both destroyed. In the book it happens in a small town on a average street, where he has to drive a distance to get to any type of shopping store. I have to go with the movie on this one. Putting it in downtown Manhattan gave it the familiar scene and emphasised the number of people affected by the virus. It also adds to the movie by making a city that is always extremely busy abandoned.

Second, source of virus. In the book you learn that the virus was a natural evolution. It always existed, since the first stories of vampires, but then was killed quickly because the vampires were eliminated quickly. In the movie the virus was created because someone came up with a cure for cancer, and that cure mutated into the virus. I have to go with the book on this one. It seemed like we were suppose to not like technology and technological advances. That it was a human created condition. I personally think that the book premise was better. I like the idea that sometimes nature just goes wrong, and it is not always the fault of man.

Third, the hero. There were a few major differences in the hero (leaving nationality aside, and race). The first major one is in the book he is your average Joe Shmoe. He works at the local power plant as your average white collar laborer. In the movie he is a national military hero (notice the Time Magazine article of him on the fridge) that is a super scientist that is working on a cure for the virus before the island is quarantined. I have to go with the book on this one. I really like the idea of your average Joe being able to over come obstacles and other problems in society. Why does Hollywood always have to make the hero a police, military, or political person. Let the little guy or the average Joe be the hero. I also like the way that the book took you through his learning process. That anyone who has enough time on his hands and the resources can learn and figure things out, you don’t have to start out as a scientist to learn how to become one when you have a problem to solve.

Forth, the DOG. Sam “the dog” in the movie is a family pet that has been around with him for the entire time. The dog would of been sent away with his family if he could of sent him. In the movie the dog is a survivor that he spends weeks trying to gain the confidence of so he would have a companion. I have to go with the movie on this one. But the reason for this is because it would of been a really boring section of film to have him work on making the dog his friend. I also think that when he has to kill the dog because it gets infected with the virus made more of an impact because it was a long family friend. I also give the movie credit for the way they showed him killing Sam. It portrayed how hard it was for him and was done in a very tactful way. They did stay in line with the book with the fact that the dog was not immune, but avoided contact with the infected.

Fifth, the Girl and Boy. In the book the girl is actually one of the “Night Seekers” (term from the movie) that has put on sunscreen to help protect her from the UV to spy on him. In the Movie the girl is a normal person that was also immune to the virus, like our hero is. The boy is a total Hollywood invention, he is not in the book. I have to go with the book on this one. I know whey the movie had the girl as immune, and not one of them. You could not end the movie the way they did if she was infected. But I like the ending of the book better, so she has to be infected and a spy.

Sixth, the death of the Hero. I have to go with the book on this one. The main reason is I like the idea of Matrix type vampires carrying him out of his house, instead of being blown up with his own grenade. (And boy, was that one heck of a grenade)

Seventh, the ending. I really like the ending of the book better. Why does everything turn out to be GREAT. In the movies ending, there is a good colony to re-establish Earth, and a cure to help everyone already infected. Why can’t it just end as the hero looses, life is not fair, get over it. I like how the book ends. The infected humans have adapted, and have created a society of there own. And the hero in their eyes is not a hero, but a murderer that has been killing there kind for months (in the tune of 50+ a day). But then again, I like dark endings. I like it when evil wins on occasion. Because in real life, good does not always triumph. But then again, the reason to watch a movie is to escape from reality, so good should always win.

Conclusion: Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed both the book and the movie. This is one that I will go to Walmart and buy when it comes out. But I also really like the book. I like the way it shows an average Joe overcoming obstacles, but in the end not quite being able to over come them. I also like how the “Dark Seekers” over come their infection and learn to re-build society. I like how it shows that no matter what is thrown at humanity, it will find a way to adapt and over come.