The trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence dropped today, revealing tidbits of the plot and showcasing the return of Jeff Goldblum’s David Levinson. Bill Pullman is also credited to return as President Thomas J. Whitmore.
Absent from the sequel is Will Smith’s Steven Hiller, who was the third major piece of 1996’s Independence Day. While it was no secret that Smith was not returning, the nature of his character’s absence had not been explained. That changed today, but not from the trailer itself.
Along with the new trailer, fans have been treated with The War of 1996, a documentary-style website that chronicles what has transpired since the previous film. The timeline reveals that Steven Hiller’s story ended on April 27, 2007:
While test piloting the ESD’s first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller. Hiller’s valor in the War of 96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy’s defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and son Dylan.
The “ESD” referred to is the Earth Space Defense, set up after the alien invasion in the first film.
Both Jasmine and Dylan are set to be returning characters for the sequel. Vivica A. Fox returns as Jasmine, while Jessie Usher will play the adult Dylan.
Is a “tech malfunction” a worthy death for Hiller? Is there more to this story than the website lets on? Theorize in the comments, and hope that answers are revealed when Independence Day: Resurgence is released on June 24, 2016.