After Fox dropped the sweeping and epic first trailer for Independence Day: Resurgence, one character omission stood out as glaringly obvious. For various reasons, Will Smith chose not to return as Col. Steven Hiller, and his character’s fate was left wide open in the trailer itself. Fans of the original are certainly interested to see how Roland Emmerich would explain Hiller’s character’s absence, and there are few things worse than coming out of a sequel without such an answer. You can’t create a character as heroic and charismatic as Hiller and discard him without a clear fate.
Fortunately, audiences don’t have to wait for that information. Read forward if you want the spoilerish reason Hiller does not return for the sequel.
No, Hiller does not shout, “I could’ve been at a barbecue!” and disappear into a puff of smoke — although that would have been a righteous end.
Over at Fox’s interactive website, War of 1996, the studio reveals a series of news reports, which catch the audience up on what has gone down during the last few decades. The site shows glimpses of humanity’s developments (including a wicked Moon base) since the original alien attack. Buried within the website’s timeline is a key event in 2007, which includes a news report about Hiller, who was killed in the line of duty. The headline reads, “Alien Tech Malfunction Kills Col. Hiller,” and arrives with an appropriately explosive — this is an Emmerich movie, after all — news report with fitting imagery:
“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.”
Jeff Goldblum’s character, David Levinson, also voices a series of news broadcast in this video from Fox.