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‘You’re gonna be sorry you did this’: Thanks to ‘Breaking Bad,’ the director of a crushingly dull half-billion superhero hit admits he was wrong

That's one way of admitting defeat.

Image via Universal

When it comes to naming the most disappointing superhero movies to emerge during the genre’s boom period, it’s often easy to completely overlook Peter Berg’s Hancock considering it’s an original story that hails from neither Marvel or DC, but it shouldn’t be left out of the conversation.

The opening half of the story lived up to the pre-release expectations, with Will Smith playing a booze-addled demigod who hates everyone and everything, even if he does still swoop in to save the day as and when his services are required, regardless of the collateral damage he leaves along the way.

via Sony

And yet, the final act turned into formulaic nonsense that stripped away any sense of originality in favor of a bland CGI showdown between two over-powered rivals, something that reeked of studio interference. As it turns out, Berg initially harbored some resentment towards original writer Vince Gilligan, but he admitted to The Hollywood Reporter that he’s got every reason to admit he was wrong.

“Yeah, we were getting ready to make Hancock. This was pre-Breaking Bad, so Vince had a rep, but I didn’t really know him. I came on late in the game to direct it, and Vince’s script was incredible. It was actually called Tonight, He Comes at the time, and that’s for anyone who wants to Google the extraordinary original script to Hancock, which was wild and dark. And for anyone that reads it now, they’ll be like, “Of course, that’s the guy who wrote Breaking Bad.” 

But Vince had done four or five rewrites on the script, and I think he was kind of at the end of his creative rope. And he basically said to me and others, “Look, I’ve done my job.” And I was like, “But we need more Vince.” And he said, “Yeah, but I’m going to write a show.” And I was like, “Vince, what are you talking about? Write a show?” And I was maybe or maybe not at a Lakers game and I had maybe had a couple of cocktails before we were on the phone. I was like, “Why are you talking about writing a show? You’re doing Hancock. This is Will Smith. This is a big, big movie. You’re making a mistake. You can’t.” And he was like, “Well, Pete, I gotta go write my show.” And I was like, “Well, you’re making a big mistake. You’re gonna be sorry you did this.” And he said, “Pete, I wish you the best of luck,” and I hung up. 

And for the next week, I was trying to get people on my side that Vince Gilligan was wrong, and that Vince Gilligan was making a big mistake, and that Vince Gilligan was bad. And all I heard was, “Vince Gilligan is the most decent, talented human being I’ve ever met.” And it turns out that Vince is an incredibly decent and talented human being, and the script that he went and wrote was Breaking Bad. So he was right, and I was wrong.”

Hancock had the potential to be something truly special and unique, and while it did end up earning $629 million at the box office, it’s about as forgettable as the genre gets once it does the opposite of what it should have done and puts the gloves back on.

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Scott Campbell

News, reviews, interviews. To paraphrase Keanu Reeves; Words. Lots of words.