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Jeff Goldblum returns, but Will Smith is absent from Independence Day: Resurgence trailer

20 years ago, Jeff Goldblum and Will Smith saved our collective behinds from an alien invasion in the blockbuster film Independence Day. It was the highest grossing film of 1996 and still remains one of the all-time hits. On Sunday, 20th Century Fox dropped the first trailer for the sequel, Independence Day: Resurgence, with Roland Emmerich returning to direct. Much of the original cast reprise their roles, including Goldblum, Bill Pullman, Judd Hirsch, Vivica A. Fox and … Brent Spiner? Didn’t his wild-haired scientist character die?

Randy Quaid, who played an unstable pilot that sacrificed himself in a kamikaze-style attack against the alien mothership, will not be returning. Given Quaid’s personal problems, we’re not sure he’d come back even if they did want to resurrect him.

New to the franchise are veteran actors William Fichtner, who signs on as a top general, and Sela Ward, who plays the U.S. President. Liam Hemsworth takes to the unfriendly skies as a fighter pilot.

If you watched the trailer, you likely noticed the glaring omission of Will Smith, whose role as USMC Captain Steven Hiller helped launch his career.  According to Cinema Blend, plans were in place for Smith to return and fight alongside his on-screen son. However, after filming the sci-fi flop After Earth with real-life son Jaden, the man in black dropped out.

Spoiler alert: the film’s official site reveals the fate of Hiller, who was likely immediately promoted to Colonel after saving the world: “While test piloting the the Earth Space Defense’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.” Hiller is survived in the film by his son Dylan, played by Jessie Usher, while Fox returns as his wife, Jasmine.

The trailer depicts a somewhat darker mood than the first. The interwoven sound clips of President Thomas J. Whitmore’s stirring speech from the original film set a moving pace, though the words are ominously cut off at the end.

Will Smith's Captain Hiller died before Independence Day: Resurgence

From the trailer’s description: “Using recovered alien technology, the nations of Earth have collaborated on an immense defense program to protect the planet. But nothing can prepare us for the aliens’ advanced and unprecedented force.” Indeed, hybrid earth-alien ships can be seen in the clip as well as on the website. Additionally, an official photo shows David Levinson (Goldblum) standing in front of a screen displaying images of what look like a mobile phone and drone. Perhaps we adapted alien tech for our everyday devices in between the invasions as well.

Independence Day: Resurgence opens on June 24, 2016.

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