Independence Day 2: What We Know So Far

Almost immediately after Independence Day became the poster child for summer blockbusters back in 1996, the studio was clamoring for a sequel, and the audience was right behind them. Yet for years after a ragtag band of politicians and military strategists saved our planet from total annihilation, no movement was made on returning to the world Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin created as their follow-up to the immensely popular Stargate. With a 3D re-release originally scheduled for 2013 being the only chance of seeing some prime ET ass being whupped, the film's legacy looked to be relegated strictly to the halls of nostalgia.

Then, in a flurry of activity that took place mostly in the past couple of years, Independence Day: Resurgence was born! The franchise was given new life, and with some serious thought into not just one, but multiple entries. For now, though, we've only got one sequel to anticipate, but already there's enough information out there to have us asking questions about how the world has changed in the 20 years after defeating those "alien assholes," and whether we'll be celebrating out Independence Day, or mourning it. Here's what we know so far about Independence Day: Resurgence, starting with the first trailer as shown below.

So what information has been released about Independence Day: Resurgence so far, and what’s been rumored about the film? Read on to find out!


The Director

In the years since Independence Day, Roland Emmerich has become a bit of an infamous figure in Hollywood. This is mostly due to his immediately following up his 1996 sci-fi blockbuster with one of the most panned films of the 1990's: his remake of Godzilla. Most recently, Emmerich was the force behind such films as The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, and White House Down - so you could debate his reputation in Hollywood as falling on either side of the spectrum. Strangely enough, Roland Emmerich waited so long to make an Independence Day sequel because he was afraid that making the film during the Bush Administration would only serve to further glorify those in power, as he felt the series was about, "a king who leads his country into a fight against an outside invader." No word yet on if the White House will yet again be destroyed, but never say never.


The Story

Twenty years after what's been universally dubbed "The War of 1996," humanity is about to be visited by another wave of alien invaders. With David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum) working closely with the Earth Space Defense (ESD) organization in the decades after the first invasion, our species has adapted our own lives and defenses with reverse engineered technology from the first round of hostilities. The world has formed one massive global alliance, and peace has reigned in the ensuing ground war to clear out the straggling alien inhabitants left over since initial invasion. Throughout those years, Levinson was always convinced that the extraterrestrial forces would be back, and sure enough – those strangers from the depths of space are re-emerging in our corner of space, ready for more hostilities. Originally planned as a multi-part sequel, entitled ID Forever, the film was renamed and consolidated into one entry - Independence Day: Resurgence.


Captain Steven Hiller And His Family

After serving as a fighter pilot during the massive air campaigns waged on the alien invaders during The War of 1996, Captain Steven Hiller (Will Smith) was promoted to the rank of Colonel and began working with the Earth Space Defense organization. With the ESD working heavily in enriching our existing technology with that of our would-be destroyers, Col. Hiller was at the front line of testing said technologies, which lead to his untimely demise during the test flight of a hybrid fighter in 2007.

He was survived by his wife Jasmine, played once again by Vivica A. Fox in Independence Day: Resurgence, who went on to become a hospital administrator in the ensuing years after the global crisis; as well as his step-son Dylan (now played by Jessie Usher,) who looks to have joined the ESD, just like his step-dad before him. The reason for killing off Will Smith’s iconic character from the original film has something to do with an agreement not being reached between himself and the studio, and the eventuality was prepared for with two separate drafts of the script. Needless to say, Smith was not too pleased when he found out his character was killed off, but if he changes his tune for any prospective sequels, it shouldn’t be too hard to re-write him into the picture.


President Whitmore And His Family

During the events of the War of 1996, President James Whitmore became a battle tested leader, despite his critics having no faith in his ability to lead pre-invasion. Unfortunately, President Whitmore also lost his wife, and encountered an event where for a brief moment, a previously captured alien created a telepathic link between itself and the world leader. After humanity won the day, President Whitmore and his daughter, Patricia, became a part of living history. In particular, the former Commander in Chief was instrumental to the global talks that eventually created the Earth Space Defense organization.

But the past has come calling for James Whitmore, as he apparently still has a mental link with the aliens that came 20 years ago. Not much is known about what's been going on in Patricia’s life by the time Independence Day: Resurgence rolls around, but we do know that It Follows star Maika Monroe is filling the role, after a heated casting process that somehow left out the original actor to play the role - The DUFF’s Mae Whitman. Returning to play President Whitmore is Bill Pullman, who was last seen in the R-rated comedy/thriller American Ultra.


David Levinson

When The War of 1996 hit, David Levinson was nothing more than a "cable repair man," working tech for a New York service provider. His genius exceeded what was needed for such a lowly position, and it showed when he was not only the singular person to isolate the alien signal, he also pointed out that it was a countdown to an eventual attack. Sealing humanity’s victory against the alien scourge by implanting a computer virus into one of the alien control ships, Levinson’s mind saved the world.

All of this paved the way for his eventual position as the director of the Earth Space Defense organization, which gave him free reign to design the future of human technology. This was mostly done through harnessing the weapons of destruction that were once used in an attempt to wipe us out. Bringing his legendary character to live once again for Independence Day: Resurgence is Jeff Goldblum, who has recently been seen in Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel and Mortdecai.


Jake Morrison

The War of 1996 took its toll on the world, leaving cities devastated and families torn apart. One such victim of the alien invasion’s devastation was Jake Morrison, former fighter pilot / hot dog flying ace. Morrison lost his parents during the first incursion into Earth’s atmosphere, leaving him to grow up an orphan who would originally pursue a career in the military. Being the show-off that he is, Jake made a call so bad that he was banished to the Earth Science Defense’s Moon Base, where he drives a space forklift known as "The Moon Tug." Jake is a new character to the line-up of Independence Day: Resurgence, and is played by action star Liam Hemsworth, who we most recently star in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part II. Not only will we get to see Jake interacting with David Levinson in a particularly tense looking sequence, but it’s also been heavily suspected that Patricia Whitmore is pretty much Jake’s love interest in the long awaited sequel.


Dr. Brakish Okun

We’d always suspected that Area 51 held the greatest secrets when it came to the existence of alien life, and sure enough we were right. During the events of the War of 1996, President Whitmore and his party were made privy to the secrets of the top secret installation by the eccentric Dr. Brakish Okun. A lead researcher at the infamous military site, Dr. Okun was presumably killed after an alien he was dissecting became re-animated, using him as a mouthpiece to speak with humanity. As luck would have it, the good doctor did not die, rather he was in a coma for some time - leaving him to return to the aid of humanity in its darkest hour. Returning to play one of his craziest roles yet in Independence Day: Resurgence is venerated sci-fi actor Brent Spiner. Recently seen re-teaming with Patrick Stewart in the Starz comedy Blunt Talk, we can only imagine what Spiner’s character is going to be like after having an extremely close encounter with an alien, and living to tell the tale.


Julius Levinson

While his son David may be book smart, Julius Levinson doesn’t resist a chance to set his son straight when he needs to. A wise, if not cranky, old man, Julius loves playing chess and trying to help his son fix his life up a bit, and he’s not afraid to quote John Lennon for the cause. Julius evacuated New York with his son during the War of 1996, and stuck beside him throughout the journey - no matter how airsick his child had gotten. Julius may not be a warrior in the traditional sense, but he surely knows how to brighten the mood and calm a room that’s about to get out of control. Without Judd Hirsch playing the role of Julius, as he did in the previous film, Independence Day: Resurgence would have no business including his character in the proceedings. Thankfully, both Hirsch and his sage comedic relief will help us through another round of prayer.


The Aliens

When you bust in on an inferior race, guns blazing and your enemy confused, surely you think you’ve got the day won, right? Wrong, my extraterrestrial friend, as the aliens who sparked the War of 1996 not only failed to secure the planet they lusted after from afar, they lost almost their entire advance party in the process. We say almost because as the history of the world after their defeat will tell you, some aliens survived for around a decade after their initial attack - only to slowly be cleared out. Of course, when you lose a scouting team to a punk fighter pilot and an egghead computer whiz, you’re naturally going to send another team - which is what our unnamed alien race from Independence Day have done in the name of the story for Independence Day: Resurgence. With a bigger ship, and undoubtedly tougher, more advanced defenses - it’s going to be much harder to whoop ET’s ass this time around - especially since Earth has run out of Randy Quaids to throw at them.


President Lanford

In every Roland Emmerich film that features a president (and if you’re keeping score that’s a whole bunch of them), the world leader reflects a usually progressive viewpoint that either syncs up with the modern world, or puts it ahead of its time. President Lanford is the latest in Emmerich’s collection of Commanders in Chief, and she’s the first female United States president in history. Overseeing the United States in Independence Day: Resurgence’s version of 2016, President Lanford may be a leader in a brave new world, but she’s going to need some advice from heroes of the past in order to defeat this revisiting menace. Reuniting with Emmerich after her role in 2004’s The Day After Tomorrow, Sela Ward has gone from being a doctor to being president in 12 years, with a couple exciting stops along the way. Most notably, Ward played television personality Sharon Schieber in David Fincher’s adaptation of Gone Girl, as well as landing gigs on shows like House, M.D. and CSI: NY.

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

CinemaBlend's James Bond (expert). Also versed in Large Scale Aggressors, time travel, and Guillermo del Toro. He fights for The User.