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Samantha Putterman
By Samantha Putterman March 22, 2021

No, the movie ‘I am Legend’ was not based in 2021 and the outbreak was not caused by a vaccine

If Your Time is short

  • This is inaccurate. The movie was set in 2012, not 2021. 

  • The story is about “mutant-like vampires,” not zombies, and the outbreak was caused by a genetically-modified virus meant to cure cancer, not a vaccine.

As the United States continues to expand COVID-19 vaccinations, a rumor circulating online claims that the 2007 post-apocalyptic movie "I Am Legend" starring actor Will Smith was set in 2021 and centered on a zombie outbreak spurred by a faulty vaccine. 

"Just wanted to remind you all that in the movie ‘I am Legend’ the year is 2021, and people turned into zombies because of the wrong vaccines. Have a great day," a Facebook post says.

The post was flagged as part of Facebook’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Facebook.)

This is inaccurate. The movie was set in 2012, not 2021. The story is about "mutant-like vampires," not zombies, and the outbreak was not caused by a vaccine.

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The movie is based on a book by Richard Matheson that was first published in 1954. In the book, the story takes place in Los Angeles in 1976. In the movie version, it takes place in New York City in 2012.

Smith plays scientist Robert Neville, who believes he is the last survivor in the city after a deadly man-made virus killed most people and turned others into vampire-like mutants, according to the film’s description. Neville spends his time trying to find other humans, as well as a cure. 

In the movie, actor Emma Thompson plays Dr. Alice Krippin, a scientist who created a genetically-engineered measles virus to cure cancer. In the opening scene, Krippin says that over 10,000 cancer patients were successfully cured. But the experiment backfires when it's later discovered that the virus is lethal. 

This post is False. 

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No, the movie ‘I am Legend’ was not based in 2021 and the outbreak was not caused by a vaccine

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