In the wake of the career hiatus that followed Seven Pounds, Will Smith has been getting back in the groove: specifically, the sci-fi groove. Aside from his cameo in Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues and his surprise appearance in Winter's Tale, Smith's two major recent movies were sci-fi comedy sequel Men in Black 3 and father-son outing After Earth.
One of these movies did a lot better than the other one at the box office (try and guess which one) but neither was a total flop and Smith seems keen to line up other projects along the same lines. One such vehicle for the actor is Selling Time, a thriller about a man who makes a deal to sell seven years of his life in exchange for a chance to prevent a terrible and life-changing event; according to a new report, Smith is also eyeing up another interesting opportunity.
According to a report by TheWrap, two sources familiar with the project have said that Smith is in early talks to star in Brilliance, a sci-fi thriller from Legendary Pictures which has Julias Onah (The Girl is in Trouble) set to direct. If he does end up cast as the lead, Smith will play FBI agent Nick Cooper, whose superhuman cognitive abilities make him exceptional at the art of hunting down terrorists. His powers are probably going to be slightly less ostentatious than those he demonstrated as a down-and-out superhero in Hancock, but they nonetheless mark him as a member of a group of people who are feared and distrusted by the general population.
For comic book fans, the idea that this promise will likely bring most immediately to mind is X-Men, but in Screen Rant's interview with Marcus Sakey, the author of the novel upon which the film is based, he said that the two stories are very different:
"On one level it’s very flattering. On the other hand, I don’t really think the comparison is all that apt. The idea of stories about supermen among us, frankly doesn’t begin with ‘X-Men.’ ‘X-Men’ belongs in that category along with a bunch of other things. To me, while ‘X-Men’ is great, I don’t think they’re all that similar. What I was more interested in was this sort of social novel aspect. What happens to the world? How does the world react? How does our easy xenophobia play out when it’s our sons and daughters? And really just pushing the impact of the gifts through a real world filter."
If screenwriter David Koepp (Jurassic Park) sticks with Sakey's approach in the adaptation, Brilliance will likely end up as a more grounded breed of science fiction, especially since the story courts the sensitive issue of terrorism. With that in mind, the X-Men films have definitely had their own share of social commentary.
We'll keep you updated on Brilliance as the project develops.