Another Reason Will Smith’s Character’s Absence From Independence Day 2 Needs Explanation

By  · Published on March 24th, 2015

Twentieth Century Fox

Will Smith isn’t returning for the Independence Day sequel, and that’s a big deal. Not for his career or for the movie’s appeal but because there’s going to have to be some shoehorned explanation for why he’s absent. Or at least why his character is absent. Some movies might have just ignored the lack of one of the original’s main characters. But then this one cast Jessie Usher as the step-son of Smith’s Captain Steven Hiller, meaning we’ll be made conscious of that lack. Still, the movie could just follow the young man and mention in passing that his dad is in some off screen psychiatric hospital muttering “welcome to Earth” to himself over and over and over.

Now there’s more reason for the movie to make a real effort to explain away Smith’s character. His girlfriend-then-wife, Jasmine, is also going to be in Independence Day 2 (aka ID Forever – Part 1). Director Roland Emmerich confirmed the reprisal casting of Vivica A. Fox in the role via a photo on Twitter, because that’s how it’s done now. She then followed up with a tweet of her own featuring a collage of Jasmine stills. So, if she’s back and her son is back, where’s the hero in their family? A lot can happen in 20 years, but we only need some basic yet plausible details. Was there a divorce? Did he have a heart attack? Did he die of some alien disease from his contact with one?

Exciting news… just officially closed @MsVivicaFox for #IndependenceDay! Here’s the pic!

— Roland Emmerich (@rolandemmerich) March 24, 2015

It’s official that I’ll b back 4 #IndependenceDay2 sequel playing #Jasmine #LegitimateCareer #NextLevel #Blessed;)

— Vivica A. Fox (@MsVivicaFox) March 24, 2015

The more returning cast members they get for the sequel, the more explanations they’re going to require. Bill Pullman is back as the (former?) President, so we either need to see his daughter, played by The Duff star Mae Whitman back then, or hear a good explanation for where she is instead. And Jeff Goldblum is on board as David, but what of his father, played by Judd Hirsch, and his ex-wife, played by Margaret Colin, with whom he’s seemingly back together with after he’s helped save the world? Maybe we just need a comic book to fill in all these gaps. That seems to be a popular way of providing exposition these days.

Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.