On June 24, 2016, nearly twenty years after the release of Independence Day, Roland Emmerich brings us the long-awaited sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence. The original 1996 film was an absolute smash. The final worldwide tally of over $817 million and at one point it trailed only the original Jurassic Park's box office receipts. What is so spectacular about that feat, is it was done before the exponential growth we have seen in foreign box offices. These days, a big blockbuster can bank on $100 million alone from China, but not back then. Think about this, Independence Day is only $60 million shy of the worldwide total for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice - remarkable.
Independence Day has a lasting legacy as really the beginning of a long line of disaster-oriented films (many also directed by Emmerich), and it's also the starring vehicle which cemented Will Smith as a bonafide superstar. With all that in mind, it is not a surprise that there would be a sequel. The only real surprise is that it has taken this long to hit theaters. But here we are, twenty years later, and Independence Day: Resurgence is right around the corner. Twenty years has brought us new technologies, larger budgets, and new stars, and we can't wait to see the impact that has on an already visually stimulating franchise.
So, before you head to the theater on June 24 to see what mayhem the aliens have in store for our planet, check out these 14 Things We Want To See In Independence Day: Resurgence.
12 What Happened to Will Smith?
Let's get this one out of the way first: short of a surprise cameo, Will Smith WILL NOT be in Independence Day: Resurgence. We know, that sucks. The late '90s was all about Will Smith's brand of action comedy. You know, the type of comedy where he screams a lot, but in that way that really just wants to make you laugh? And Will Smith was at his best in his (arguably) career-making turn as Captain Steven Hiller in Independence Day. We will all miss him in the Independence Day sequel. The question is: what happened to him?
The viral trailers accompanying the film states that he is a deceased war hero, dying in a weapons malfunction. Clearly, we are at least led to believe that he has passed. We hope that the film gives us a legitimate explanation for Steven Hiller's absence, and does not just gloss over his death, assuming everyone has seen the promotional material. Hopefully, if he did indeed die, it was because he was doing something heroic during that technology malfunction.
Fortunately, we know his memory will be alive throughout the movie, as his stepson, Dylan Dubrow-Hiller (now played by Jessie Usher), and his widow, Jasmine Dubrow-Hiller (with Vivica A. Fox reprising her role), will be featured throughout the sequel.
11 How is Dr. Okun Alive?
We all remember Dr. Brackish Okun from the original Independence Day, right? Remember, the one played by Brent Spiner (of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame)? Dr. Okun was the highly excitable Area 51 doctor in charge of researching the alien specimens. Dr. Okun seemingly died in the first movie during the autopsy of the alien brought to Area 51 by Captain Hiller (Will Smith). During the examination, Dr. Okun is attacked by the not-so dead alien - and seemingly killed. The alien then uses Dr. Okun's lifeless body to communicate through manipulation of the vocal cords.
So there is no doubt that in the script for Independence Day, that scene read something like:
ALIEN KILLS DR. OKUN. DR. OKUN IS NOW DEAD. DEFINITELY DEAD.
But here we are, twenty years later, and the trailers for Independence Day: Resurgence feature none other than Dr. Brackish Okun. The official explanation is that he was just knocked unconscious. But hopefully we get some more details explaining how exactly he survived that attack, and why he would want anything more to do with these aliens.
10 Destroyed Landmarks
Independence Day would not be the film it is if not for some massive destruction. And no scene of destruction is better remembered than the one where the alien ship destroys the White House. A clear message was sent by the aliens. We can hit you wherever we want - even the most protected place on Earth. So if the sequel is to live up to the original, we are going to need to see some massive destruction. Our protagonists are going to need to know that they are in trouble. And nothing reiterates that thought better than the destruction of a famous landmark.
Now, we know this is going to happen. It has been teased in the trailers, and Jeff Goldblum's character even notes that the aliens do like going after the landmarks. But just because we know it's going to happen, doesn't mean we don't want to see it on the big screen. It's the same reason people keep going to Tom Cruse movies (though less people) - we know he's going to be doing a lot of running, but hey, we can't get enough.
Twenty years of improved special effects, will make all of the alien destruction a viewing delight, and we can't wait to see it unfold.
9 Victory Cigars
Captain Steven Hiller's tradition before going off on a mission was to pack with him a victory cigar. It was a simple, yet effective way for the movie's protagonist to relish in his victories. We all remember Steven Hiller and David Levinson (Goldblum) lighting up after uploading the computer virus to the alien mothership.
While Steven Hiller will likely not be back, we do know that his stepson, Dylan, and David Levinson will be in the sequel. Hopefully during their interactions together, they decide to pack some victory cigars. It would be a nice nod to the original Independence Day, to see Levinson, and anyone with the last name Hiller, basking in their victory (we can only assume they will win) with a well deserved Cuban cigar.
8 Larger Battles
There is no arguing that the original Independence Day brought us some of the best visual effects of the '90s. The film did, after all, go on to win the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects. Part of the triumph of the first movie was the epic battles, explosions, and ventures into space. All of that was very cool when the film was released. But that would describe the majority of major studio blockbusters released these days. That's what we will see in the next Star Trek, Star Wars, Transformers, and the list could go on.
It therefore goes without saying that it is harder for a movie to make its mark visually now than it was in the '90s. It is difficult to differentiate yourself - to stand out in a pack of mega-budgeted films. But with all that said, you have to try. And the best thing Independence Day: Resurgence can do is turn up the dial on everything. That includes the battles. We want to see larger battles, larger stakes, and more destruction. We can only hope that Independence Day: Resurgence accomplishes what the first film did - creating an industry standard of visual destruction.
7 Alien Technology
One way to step up the battles, is to introduce some new technology. And Independence Day: Resurgence will do just that. If you have seen the trailers, you know that the Earth Space Defense ("ESD"), led by David Levinson, is created to protect Earth from future alien attacks. Part of the defense strategy is new military weapons that incorporate advanced alien technology. Despite taking place in 2016, the film will now showcase defense capabilities that are far more advanced than reality - which is fine, because this is science fiction.
Hopefully the improved weaponry will lead to some intense battles that keep our eyes glued at all times to the screen. With a budget reported to be over $200 million, we know the special effects are going to be top notch, and we can't wait to see how the advanced alien technology is used.
6 Alternate History
A lot has happened in the world of Independence Day between 1996 and 2016. Bill Pullman's Thomas J. Whitmore is no longer President of the United States, major cities have had to been rebuilt, and the United Nations has created the ESD to warn of future alien threats. So much has happened, in fact, that the twenty years between movies could occupy a trilogy of narrative films. With the world going through such transition following the War of 1996, we hope that we get to see a little of what happened prior to the events of Independence Day: Resurgence.
How we will see all that has occurred since 1996 is unknown. The film is a moderate 120 minutes, so it is unlikely we will see a large prologue setting up the past. But hopefully, with the use of well-timed flashbacks, news stories, and dialogue, we will get a small glimpse of the history of the world we will soon be revisiting.
5 Alien Planet
Unbeknownst to the heroes of Earth, prior to destroying the alien mothership in Independence Day, the aliens sent a distress call to their home planet. It is this event that will lead to the second great alien attack on Earth. But where exactly are these aliens coming from? The first movie was very much about the defense of planet Earth, and how the human race comes together to defeat a force threatening our very existence. Little was known about the aliens' motivations, or where they call home.
The sequel will be spending more time in space than the first movie. Promotional material has already indicated that the ESD will have stations on Mars, the Moon, and Rhea (the second largest moon of Saturn). Hopefully, we will also get to see some shots of the aliens' home planet. Are they civilized? What do their cities look like? These questions and more would be fun to have answered in Independence Day: Resurgence.
4 Replacement for Randy Quaid
One of the highlights of the first Independence Day, was the inclusion of Russell Casse (played wonderfully by Randy Quaid). Russell Casse was a widowed Vietnam War vet, an alcoholic crop duster, and someone who was seemingly delusional in believing he was abducted by aliens. Casse sacrificed himself at the end of the first film by flying his plane directly into the energy weaponry of the destroyer ship. It was this sacrifice which alerted other world leaders to the destroyer ship's vulnerabilities, enabling them to win the war.
Russell Casse was a pivotal character in Independence Day. Call him comic relief, or just an ancillary character whose antics were fun to watch, ultimately he proved indispensable. We hope that there is room in Independence Day: Resurgence for a similar character. Whether a conspiracy theorist, an alcoholic, or an overzealous patriot, for disaster films to succeed, they need characters that fit outside the traditional government/military role.
3 Suicide Mission to Save the World
As we sit in our seats, exhausted from explosions, stunning visual effects, and alien destruction, we will likely get to a point in Independence Day: Resurgence where everything seems dire. The aliens are winning. The fate of our planet is in jeopardy. How will we ever survive this onslaught of unstoppable alien weaponry? Well likely, just like the first film, there will be some vulnerability that will enable us to win the war. The only problem? The mission will likely mean suicide.
In the first film, Steven Hiller and David Levinson had to fly an alien ship into space (with a nuclear weapon) to destroy the alien mothership and disable the destroyer ship shields. It was a mission with little chance of survival. In fact, while they were up in space smoking their victory cigars, they did not think they were coming home - but of course, they did. Clichéd or not, we hope to (and likely will) see something similar. There will be some sort of odds-defying mission to save humanity - we just hope it is cool and original.
2 Evidence of Ancient Aliens
You have seen it before, aliens have traveled to earth long ago. They helped us build the pyramids, taught us about irrigation, and brought us other wonders. There is no indication that any of this has been done in Independence Day, but why not? Russell Casse has sure claimed that he was abducted, and there is no reason not to believe him. Aliens likely have visited Earth before, and it would be cool to see what it was they were doing. Perhaps they did help us build the pyramids. Maybe they even hid ancient weapons right under our noses. For all we know, they are returning to our planet to recover what they left behind.
This may be nothing but conjecture, but it would be a fun bit of history to add to the universe that makes up Independence Day. As previously mentioned, it is hard to avoid the cliché when creating a story that has been done so many times before. So rather than avoid it, hopefully Independence Day: Resurgence will embrace the normal tropes and put their own spin on them.
1 Epic Bill Pullman Speech
There are so many reasons why fans revere the original Independence Day. Whether it be the destruction, the visuals, or giving us twenty great years of Will Smith, everyone has one reason or another to love the film. One of those is Bill Pullman. There are some great movie speeches. You could make a playlist of just motivating speeches that you have seen in film. You play it whenever you need to get jacked up. Maybe before that run you don't want to take, or that presentation you can't stop sweating over. Braveheart, Gladiator, and Any Given Sunday, or just a few of the films that gave us epic motivational speeches. But none surpass President Whitmore's from Independence Day.
An hour before launching an aerial battle greater than any before it, President J. Whitmore announced that on the fourth of July humanity will be fighting once more for their Independence. The speech is easily one of the most quotable and re-watchable speeches in cinematic history. You can't watch it without getting goosebumps - go ahead, try.
Bill Pullman will have the hard task of replicating that speech. Perhaps they should just replay it during the movie. But hopefully we will get another epic speech to jack us up. We do not envy the writers of Independence Day: Resurgence, who will have to follow up that great address. But we cannot wait to see what they came up with.
Independence Day is a film that has endured for over twenty years. It launched the career of Will Smith, and was followed by a slew of disaster films trying to replicate its success. With Independence Day: Resurgence hitting theaters on June 24, what do you want to see happen? Let us know in the comments!