The slap heard around the world seems to be backfiring on the Oscar-winning actor. For the first time in his career, Will Smith won the Best Actor award for his role in King Richard; however, that’s not what the world is buzzing about. Unfortunately, Smith tainted that win by slapping comedian Chris Rock, who simply told a G.I. Jane joke. Surprisingly, there are two sides of a spectrum when it comes to public opinion, but wrong is wrong and Smith did assault a man on live television. Chris Rock has declined to press charges, so Smith getting into financial or legal trouble doesn’t seem to be happening from this incident. However, two movies have reportedly been shelved, Fast and Loose and Bad Boys 4.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix has allegedly slowed down the development of this first movie. The premise of that feature is a leader of a criminal organization suffering from memory loss from a violent attack. He reunites with his crew, but realizes that it has vastly changed within the structure. Now, it wasn’t just the Will Smith slap that held the film back, the attached director, David Leitch, reportedly left the project a week prior to focus on Ryan Gosling’s Fall Guy. However, THR is also stating that Sony has allegedly put the sequel, Bad Boys 4, on hold following the incident that transpired at the Oscars. To be clear, this isn’t an indication that Smith is being kicked off the project nor does it sound like the studio is planning to do something drastic of that nature. Likely, Will Smith will bounce back from this moment because it isn’t as serious as it seems. Granted, the actor should definitely be punished for his disturbing behavior during the Oscars, but the likelihood of Will Smith being blacklisted from Hollywood is slim to none.
However, it does bring up the question, should Bad Boys 4 move on without the Academy Award-winning actor? Granted, it took 17 years for Bad Boys for Life to finally see the light of day, so again, the likelihood of that is slim, but can the Bad Boys world survive without Mike Lowrey? Here’s the thing, the Bad Boys franchise is built off the dynamic of Marcus Burnett and Mike Lowrey. Of course, story is also vital for the success of any movie, but at the end of the day, it’s a buddy action film that heavily relies on the two main characters. Marcus is a straight-forward family man in juxtaposition to Mike Lowrey’s fast, bachelor lifestyle. That is pretty much why these films work in the first place. The first Bad Boys switched the roles of both characters, Marcus pretended to be Mike and vice versa, and the story hinges on from that dynamic. The next two films don’t particularly play up that aspect, but it still relies on the two characters to carry us from beginning to end. Despite the differences between Mike and Marcus, they feel like brothers because the chemistry between Martin Lawrence and Will Smith is off the charts good.
The filmmakers can decide to take Will Smith out. Possibly give him some off-screen death. While axing a major character like this would be a huge mistake, the true question is that would the replacement be suitable? Realistically, Will Smith’s shadow would heavily linger on the Bad Boys franchise. It’s not impossible to make a great film without Smith, but the dynamic between Mike and Marcus is magic, and disrupting that would actually hinder the movies. Audiences watch Bad Boys specifically for the two main characters, and there’s not another name that will be able to replace the charismatic Will Smith. It’s in vein of The Office failing to find a suitable name to replace Michael Scott. Or That’s 70’s Show going downhill once Topher Grace and Ashton Kutcher left the later seasons. Changing a core cast member can ruin the entire dynamic altogether and there just isn’t an actor who’s going to replace the character of Mike Lowrey. Can Marcus Burnett standalone in the feature? If Bad Boys was a darker and more serious film then the exploration of him losing his partner could be a fascinating feature. As it stands, making a such a drastic shift in the Bad Boys brand would be a mistake, and since it’s a buddy action comedy, taking out one of the most energetic characters in the film would sap life out of the respective films.
As previously stated, it’s not impossible to make a good movie with Mike Lowrey, but it’ll surely be an uphill battle to recapture what made the original films so special. Bad Boys 4 shouldn’t move along without Will Smith. As I previously stated, the actor does deserve to be punished for his behavior, but Will Smith hasn’t done something so deplorable that warrants him being removed from the lucrative franchise.
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