Part of the reason it's not so memorable is the conspicuous absence of Will Smith, who Welcome-To-Earth'd his way into all our hearts way back in 1996. The '90s were when we all realized that we loved seeing Will Smith punch aliens and rap about it, but hated seeing him punch cowboys and cripples and rap about it. We learned a lot about ourselves in the '90s. It was an important time.
Smith originally wanted to return in the sequel, and the story would've been structured around his character and his son. But then After Earth bombed, and Smith decided to drop out because, according to director Roland Emmerich, he was skeptical to do another science fiction movie about a father/son duo.
I love that, OK? Smith thought that After Earth bombed not because it was such a transparent attempt to buy his son an acting career that M. Night Shyamalan was the only director desperate or gullible enough to be involved, but because we just weren't ready for father/son sci-fi epics. And hey, maybe he's right? Suicide Squad was a urinary cake sandwich that still managed to gross $745 million and set all kinds of box office records (it's the biggest opening of Smith's entire career!), because apparently audiences were dying to see Jared Leto in Joker makeup and Cara Delevingne do some funktown shuffles in front of a green screen.
So the running theme in this article is that it's really hard to tell why audiences like some things but hate other things. There's a kind of ineffable magic to why some movies -- or, say, list-based internet articles -- are successful, and it's really tempting to chase that kind of magical success and try to relive times in your past when you've come close but missed it. But the point of learning from mistakes isn't to dwell on them and to try to change the past; it's about learning and making better choices in the future. Because otherwise, you just end up making The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen. And besides, there's still a chance Pacific Rim: Uprising will be pretty good, even though Charlie Hunnam isn't in it.
JF Sargent is a senior editor and columnist for Cracked and 2007 Hale Hall Super Smash Bros. Champion. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.
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