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Will Smith: We Miss Mr. July

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Jul 04, 2012 | 7:30am EDT

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Will SmithThere was a time when July 4th meant something. Something big, gallant, unstoppable. Something that you could really believe in. Something called Will Smith. A decade and change ago, Will Smith earned the nickname “Mr. July,” for his blockbuster near-Independence Day releases like Men in Black, Wild Wild West, and that other one. The week of the 4th was Smith’s stomping ground — the films he chose fit right into the American holiday. They were huge, loud, exciting, funny. They all celebrated an “Us vs. Them” mentality with clear good guys and even clearer bad guys. It was a simpler time then, and we all loved it.

But now, Will Smith has all but forsaken his Mr. July title. This week sees the release of no Smith films. The actor’s recent Men in Black threequel seemed like a shoe-in for the spot, but was probably pushed to June to avoid competition from the optimistic Amazing Spider-Man. Superheroes hold claim to the blockbusters now — Smith’s go at a superhero flick (Hancock) didn’t earn him many accolades. Most of the actor’s recent movies are smaller and more intimate. Even the big zombie apocalypse film (I Am Legend) was dark and moody. Hardly summer fun.

So can Smith ever claim the title of Mr. July again? Or is he taking a turn for the Jim Carrey — moving onto softer films that’ll earn him fewer bucks and far more awards. You know, winter movies. Maybe that’s the future of Will Smith: Mr. December. Maybe the Will Smith of smelling rare cabbies later and welcoming aliens to Urf are over and done with. So then, we’ll have a softer, more serene Smith. A Smith that might get to play Obama after all.

But then, only one question remains: who will be the new Mr. July? Is it even possible for someone in this day and age of movie mass production to have a Mr. July? Could it be a Marvel mainstay — Iron Man’s Robert Downey Jr. or Captain America’s Chris Evans? Could the week of July 4th itself be heading in a darker, softer direction? Could alien invasions and calamitous explosions as we know it be a thing of the past… or worse… shoved to September?

Not in my country.

[Photo Credit: David Edwards/Daily Celeb]

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