25th Anniversary of Good Will Hunting: Does Will Hunting Actually Stop 9/11?

‘How do you like them apples, bin Laden?’ — not an actual line from the film... but maybe?
25th Anniversary of Good Will Hunting: Does Will Hunting Actually Stop 9/11?

It’s been 25 years since any of us could plausibly deny knowing the names “Matt Damon” and “Ben Affleck.” Yes, Good Will Hunting came out a full quarter of a century ago but still lives on in rewatches and any time a Bostonian asks another d-bag about their fruit preferences.

To commemorate this very special anniversary, we’d like to take a minute to consider what is clearly the most important question this Oscar-winning film raises: In the world of Good Will Hunting, does Will prevent 9/11? 

Think about it: Will is an unparalleled, self-taught super-genius, and memorably, he is nearly recruited by the NSA midway through the movie until he craps all over their organization — and American foreign policy in general — during his job interview. 

At the end of the movie, he rejects all job offers to go “see about a girl,” but he’s going to need money eventually, right? After a year of shoebox apartment living and eating Cup Noodles for breakfast, lunch and dinner, would Will sacrifice his morals and go back to the NSA for a job?

Were he to become a codebreaker — the role he seemingly correctly surmised was what the NSA wanted him to take on — he likely would have been working a key intelligence job by 2001. And the idea that Will Hunting: Codebreaker could have made a difference isn't totally far-fetched, as there have been reports that NSA intelligence efforts could have potentially stopped the attacks if not for a “bureaucratic roadblock.” Throw a rogue savant with a distrust for authority into the mix, and who knows what would have happened?

All of this may sound somewhat silly, but early drafts of Good Will Hunting were more in the vein of a spy thriller, with the NSA playing a major role in the story — that is, until Rob Reiner became involved and convinced Damon and Affleck that “it really shouldn’t be an action film.” But according to Damon, “Once we removed the NSA stuff, it was 60 pages.” So they had to cobble together all of that stuff about the human condition or whatever.

Still, in retrospect, it does seem as though one of the most significant events in American history could have hinged, in the Good Will Hunting-verse at least, on the career choices of one random janitor. And somehow, none of these issues were addressed in the 2001 sequel… 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter (if it still exists by the time you’re reading this). 

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