We had 20 years to prepare. So did they.
Independence Day: Resurgence takes us back to the world established by the original film, bringing with it a host of familiar faces from the first movie. A lot has changed since the first invasion in 1996, and many of the characters find themselves in very different places from where we left them.
Several new characters are also making an appearance, all of whom have had their life significantly affected by the original invasion, and the fallout in the years since. Compiling character information from Independence Day, the Independence Day: Dark Fathom prequel comic, the tie-in novel Independence Day: Crucible, and the abundance of viral marketing, we present to you Independence Day: The Complete Character Guide.
Portrayed by: Maika Monroe
One of the first bits of fan outrage (besides the news that Will Smith would not be returning) was the casting of Maika Monroe as Patricia Whitmore. The character was portrayed by Mae Whitman in the 1996 original, who is the right age to play her in Resurgence, and still leads a successful career. While Maika Monroe is talented in her own right, many fans of Mae will likely continue to wonder why she’s absent from the sequel.
Patricia didn’t have a big role in role in Independence Day, since she was only six years old at the time, but being President Thomas Whitmore's daughter gave her a front row seat to witness the invasion from the President’s side, so she’s no stranger to alien invasions.
Having lost her mother in the War of 1996, Patricia followed her father’s footsteps and enlisted in the Earth Space Defense as soon as she had the chance. She attended an ESD academy with Dylan Hiller (Jessie T. Usher), who she became friends with during the War of 1996, and a new friend, Jake Morrison (Liam Hemsworth), forming a romantic relationship with the latter.
Her role in Resurgence isn’t clear yet, but as a pilot for the ESD, she’s bound to see action against the aliens.
Portrayed by: Jeff Goldblum
Jeff Goldblum is returning to the franchise to once again play the role of David Levinson. It’s doubtful there would be any interest in a sequel at all if it wasn’t for his involvement - especially with Will Smith’s absence - so it’s good to see him back.
There might not even be a sequel if it wasn’t for David Levinson. At the start of the original invasion he was the first one to decrypt the alien signal, realizing it was a coordinated countdown for all the ships to attack. Taking quick action, Levinson was able to warn President Whitmore (Bill Pullman), who was evacuated to Area 51 where they were able to plan a counter attack.
If saving the President and his staff wasn’t enough, Levinson also thought up the plan to disable the alien shields by infecting the mother ship with a computer virus - the only reason the rest of Earth’s forces even had a fighting chance at finishing off the City Destroyers.
After the death of Steven Hiller, David accepted a position as the Director of the ESD, where he oversees several major breakthroughs in the use of alien technology. As one of Earth’s foremost experts on the aliens and their technology, his brain will be indispensable when the aliens arrive again in Resurgence.
Portrayed by: Liam Hemsworth
Liam Hemsworth comes to the franchise to play Jake Morrison. Jake is a completely new character, but his origin is very much a product of the fallout from the original movie.
Jake was seven years old when the aliens first attacked. His family lives in LA, but he was at summer camp when the city destroyer leveled the city, killing his family. He also saw the defeat of Steven Hiller’s Black Knight squadron at the hands of the aliens, which would eventually inspire him to become a pilot himself.
Jake worked as a mechanic until he was able to join up with the ESD, where he became friends with Steven Hiller’s stepson, Dylan. Captain Hiller was still alive at the time, so it’s possible Jake even had the chance to meet the pilot he saw go toe to toe with the aliens during the War of 1996.
In addition to Dylan, Jake also met Patricia Whitmore, another child of a war hero. Jake and Patricia grew close to each other, and are dating by the start of Resurgence. Jake may be the new guy, considering he wasn’t in the first movie, but he’s become friends with just about every survivor from Independence Day, putting him right in the thick of the action.
Portrayed by: Bill Pullman
Sure, nobody would see an Independence Day sequel without Jeff Goldblum, but Bill Pullman’s Thomas Whitmore is right up there among essential characters. His famous speech from the first film is one of the most iconic moments in movie history, and still brings tears to everyone’s eyes whenever it’s heard (it does do that to everyone, right?).
After the War of 1996, Thomas Whitmore was elected for a second term as President, where he oversaw the uniting of world governments and the formation of the ESD. He never quite got over his psychic encounter with the alien in Area 51, and the death of Steven Hiller was more than he could handle, so he withdrew from the spotlight and has lived as a hermit ever since.
The mental imprint left from his contact with the alien gave him visions, and those visions have gotten more intense. He shares a vision with several others that had similar alien contact of a circle with a horizontal line through it. This collective vision understandably triggers a fear that the aliens are mounting an imminent return.
Portrayed by: Vivica A. Fox
Another returning actor, Vivica A. Fox is again playing Jasmine Dubrow-Hiller, who married Captain Steven Hiller in Independence Day.
Jasmine is a very different person than she was before the first alien attack. In 1996, she was a single mother working as an exotic dancer to take care of her son. She had a feeling early on that it wasn’t very prudent to stick around LA when the alien ships were moving into position, so she packed up her son, Dylan, and left town, barely avoiding the explosions that rocked LA shortly after.
Caught on the edge of the blast radius, Jasmine rounded up many injured survivors - including the first lady - and got them to safety, reuniting Thomas and Patricia Whitmore with the first lady moments before the latter's death.
After the war, Jasmine didn’t return to the pole to dance for tips, and instead devoted herself to helping others in other ways, eventually becoming a Hospital Administrator. Now a widow after the death of Steven Hiller, she commits herself fully to her work, also serving as a mentor for her son, who has followed in his stepfather’s footsteps as a pilot for the ESD.
Portrayed by: William Fichtner
Another brand new face as a mostly new character, William Fichtner plays the role of General Joshua T. Adams, who was originally introduced through the Independence Day: Dark Fathom prequel comics that take place immediately after the first movie ends.
As a captain in the US Military during the War of 1996, Adams conducted an operation to the bottom of the atlantic ocean after the destruction of the alien mothership to investigate an intact alien craft that had settled on the ocean floor. When it’s revealed that the aliens were attempting to disrupt a major fault line, causing massive earthquakes and tsunamis - wiping out more cities and killing millions of additional humans - Adams boarded the alien craft and destroyed it, capturing alien technology and a live alien in the process.
After the war, Adams eventually joined the Earth Space Defense as a General, and serves as one of the few people who ever had direct contact with the aliens and lived to tell about it. His encounter also left him with mental scars, similar to those borne by Thomas Whitmore, with whom he shares the vision of a circle with a line through it.
Portrayed by: Jessie T. Usher
Another returning character played by a new actor is Dylan Dubrow-Hiller. He was played by Ross Bagley in Independence Day, but Jessie T. Usher is taking the reigns for ID:R. While Ross is still acting on occasion, this recasting didn’t generate nearly so much controversy as the recasting of Patricia Whitmore because Ross Bagley isn’t nearly as prolific as Mae Whitman.
Like Patricia Whitmore, Dylan had a front row seat to the alien destruction in 1996. Narrowly escaping Los Angeles with mom, Jasmine, Dylan got to witness humanity staging its final battle from the relative safety of Area 51, where he becomes friends with Patricia Whitmore, and even serves as ring-bearer for his mom’s impromptu wedding with Steven Hiller.
Once he was old enough, Dylan goes to the academy with Patricia to follow in his stepfather’s footsteps and become a fighter pilot. While there, he also becomes fast friends with Jake Morrison.
Dylan was severely affected by the sudden loss of Steven Hiller during the test-flight of earth’s first alien hybrid fighter, but devotes himself to becoming an excellent pilot, eventually flying the refined version of the same ship that took the life of his stepdad.
Portrayed by: Charlotte Gainsbourg
French actress Charlotte Gainsbourg is bringing life to another new character, Dr. Catherine Marceaux, who was initially introduced in the tie-in novel: Independence Day: Crucible. While Gainsbourg has been a prolific actress for nearly 30 years, Independence Day: Resurgence marks her first foray into major blockbuster motion pictures.
Catherine entered the scene shortly after the first alien invasion, providing care for the survivors of the war. Eventually she came to focus specifically on patients that came into contact with the aliens through a psychic attack, and began to examine the residual effects of this mental contact.
Like Thomas Whitmore and Joshua Adams, many survivors share the vision of the circle with a line, and she comes to discover that some primitive understanding of the alien language was left with each of her patients.
For years, Dr. Marceaux attempted to gain access to the National Republic of Umbutu (formerly the Congo), since ground combat with aliens continued there for years after the War of 1996, and there was likely a large population of people that had come into extended contact with the aliens. Fearing too much foreign involvement, Umbutu repeatedly rejected these attempts, hindering her continued investigation.
In later years, Dr. Marceaux would come to find that many of her patients’ visions are getting stronger, suggesting the mental influence of the aliens is returning, corresponding with claims that the aliens themselves are planning a second invasion.
Portrayed by: Brent Spiner
For years, most fans of Independence Day were under the impression that Dr. Brackish Okun was dead after his prolonged “interaction” with the captured alien. The casting of Brent Spiner to reprise the role in ID:R quickly squashed that perception.
By the time the aliens arrived in 1996, Dr. Okun had spent several decades with recovered alien bodies and an alien scout ship deep in the recesses of the secret Area 51. Shut off entirely from society, he devoted himself to learning what he could about the extra-terrestrials.
When Air Force One arrives with the President and David Levinson, Okun is thrilled to finally be able to present his work, and he gets even more giddy once Steven Hiller shows up with an intact - and living - alien body. This excitement is short lived, however, when the alien hijacks Okun’s body to deliver a demand for surrender, leaving Dr. Okun in a catatonic state for two decades.
Portrayed by: Sela Ward
Sure, everyone loved Bill Pullman as the President in Independence Day, but President Whitmore stepped down after his second term, even though he likely could have gotten elected again if he wanted to. When ID:R picks up in 2016, Sela Ward is playing the newest President, Elizabeth Lanford.
Lanford is the first female president, and was previously also the first female Vice President. Elizabeth Lanford is the only President since the War of 1996 to have not held a prior military office, but she’s no less decisive or afraid of using force because of it. She’s also not as singularly focused on buffering Earth’s defenses, either.
President Lanford lost her family in the War of 1996, so she’s not unaware of the stakes at play, but she is under the impression that the defenses built through the ESD are sufficient to handle another attack, determining it’s time to once again turn the government’s attention towards taking care of its citizens, instead of endlessly pouring resources into defense spending.
Portrayed by: Angelababy
Since Independence Day: Resurgence represents a world that united after the initial alien attacks, the focus expands beyond an exclusively American cast. Chinese superstar Angelababy marks one of non-American characters, Rain Lao. Often compared to Kim Kardashian in terms of her popularity in China, Angelababy has over 58 million followers on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent.
Rain Lao represents another orphan of the War of 1996 with a desire to become a fighter pilot, following in her late father’s footsteps. As a rebellious teen, Rain uses her piloting abilities to attract the wrong kind of attention, but eventually gets her uncle, Jiang, to enroll her in an ESD Academy.
As one of the best fighter pilots representing China and member of Legacy Squadron, Rain assists in the colonization of the Earth Space Defense Moon Base, and is eventually stationed there as a Lieutenant. As one of many recruits who lost family in 1996 that populate the ranks of the ESD, Rain hopes to one day have the opportunity to avenge the death of her parents.
Portrayed by: Judd Hirsch
Judd Hirsch is back as the father of David Levinson, Julius Levinson. While the original movie wasn’t exactly lacking in humor or quippy dialogue, Hirsch’s character was a standout when it came to establishing levity, and is his return for Resurgence is most definitely welcome.
Julius was a former rabbi living in New York city at the time of the first alien invasion, and likely wouldn’t have even survived if it wasn’t for the fact that his son, David, needed a ride to the White House to warn the president of the impending attack.
While he didn’t personally kill any aliens, Julius was key in inspiring the strategies that eventually resulted in human victory, even if it was simply by mistake. First, he inspired Air Force One to go to Area 51, which even the President thought was a myth. Later, he inadvertently inspires David Levinson to take down the alien shields with a computer virus by urging his son to wear a jacket so he doesn’t “catch cold."
Not unaware of his impact on these events (however accidental), Julius writes a book called “How I Saved The World,” obviously inflating his role just a tad. Nevertheless, the book is a success, making Julius another icon from the War of 1996.
Portrayed by: Deobia Oparei
Another new character coming into play for Resurgence is Dikembe Umbutu, the leader of the African country known as the National Republic of Umbutu, portrayed by Game of Thrones actor DeObia Oparei.
Dikembe is an Oxford-educated artist who returned home after the War of 1996 to find a downed alien City Destroyer, and his father leading an ongoing battle between his people and the surviving aliens.
Suspicious of foreign involvement, Dikembe’s father, Upanga, refused multiple offers from the ESD to aid in the eradication of the remaining alien forces, and rejected multiple requests from Dr. Marceaux to work with those of his people that had survived prolonged exposure to the aliens.
Eventually, fearing his father had gone mad, Dikembe leads an uprising, unseating his father as ruler of the National Republic of Umbutu, and allows outsiders to once again enter the country.
Portrayed by: Chin Han
Singapore’s Chin Han represents another international star, portraying the role of Jiang Lao, Rain Lao’s uncle, and the commander of the Earth Space Defense Moon Base.
After the death of Rain’s parents, Jiang became her legal guardian, although his responsibilities to the ESD often kept him far away. Despite their distance, Jiang always did his best to keep an eye on Rain and pulled strings to get her enlisted into an ESD academy.
As the commander of the Earth Space Defense Moon Base - and its giant canon derived from technology used in the alien City Destroyer’s main weapon - Jiang is responsible for Earth’s entire space defense, also managed by the ESD command center in New Beijing.
Jiang also oversaw many technological achievements in addition to the moon base, such as China’s alien hybrid fighters. He even worked closely with Colonel Steven Hiller for a time when Hiller served as China’s technical advisor, before his death.
The aliens don’t have much personality in Independence Day, but enough information has been revealed about them to put together a reasonable profile.
The aliens function like locusts, roaming the galaxy in search of planets that fit their needs, where they kill all the inhabitants (if any) before consuming all the natural resources and moving on.
Biologically, the aliens aren’t too different from humans. Slightly smaller in stature, they’re still humanoid in form, and vulnerable to many of the same physical threats. The biggest difference is that the aliens don’t have vocal cords, instead communicating via telepathy, or some other mental transmission.
The aliens' real strength comes from their technology. Their fragile bodies are often encased in biomechanical suits that give them increased durability and strength, also giving them multiple tentacled arms, which are not a part of their typical anatomy.
Their ships and weapons are also far advanced beyond humanity’s, with technology that appears to be grown more so than built. Gaining an understanding of how this technology works helps humanity make several giant leaps forward, but our primitive understanding is only scratching the surface, and is still light years behind what the aliens have accomplished.
Not much is known about the alien society or culture, but the trailers depict an alien (through Thomas Whitmore) saying “she’s here,” followed by shots of a massive alien facing off against the ESD suggests that the aliens are a part of a sort of hive structure, with a queen that leads them.
Did you have a favorite character in the movie? Are you excited to see anyone in the inevitable next sequel? Let us hear about it in the comments!