I’ve had the following conversation with a friend multiple times now: What would your story pitch be for Independence Day 2?
To be clear, it’s not exactly like either of us were clamoring for this movie to happen nor did we secretly harbor ambitions to write the screenplay or any kind of fan literature. This is only a conversation we’ve had ever since Independence Day 2 was officially announced. Cue the cynical assumptions, e.g., “What an obvious cash-grab,” and obvious questions, e.g., “Does the world really need another Independence Day movie?” But someone somewhere came up with a story idea for Independence Day 2, and some studio executive somewhere heard that story pitch and authorized the green light. If you were the person responsible for coming up with that story idea, what direction would you take?
The most obvious answer is to simply stage a re-match of humans vs. aliens, with humans more prepared but the aliens returning in far greater numbers than before. A less obvious answer would be to change the setting. The first movie took place on Earth. The next one should take place in space, with an international coalition of humans using harvested alien technology to take the fight to whatever remains of the alien army.
Based on the newly released trailer, they’ve gone with Pitch #1: Humans Vs. Aliens, Round 2. That’s to be expected, and what they’ve made absolutely looks like an Independence Day movie, except it’s 2015 so at least one of those fighter pilots has to be female AND the new President of the United States has to be female. Good for them. Plus, Vivica A. Fox’s stripper character is a Doctor now. Good for her, although, to be honest, that’s not a character I thought we’d ever see again. Bill Pullman’s bushy beard makes him look like Mumford & Sons’ long lost father. There’s a Hemsworth brother around, and Jeff Goldblum is back doing his Jeff Goldblum thing (and God love him for that).
My pitch was to play with the formula of the first movie. There, aliens arrive in city-sized space ships which hover over every significant metropolitan area on Earth as part of a synchronized attack. The surviving humans band together and fight back. Bill Pullman rants about celebrating our new Independence Day by kicking some alien ass. American stands in for the rest of the world, as per usual. Jeff Goldblum comes up with the computer virus to end all computer viruses. We win, they lose. Suck it, creepy, tentrical-heavy aliens. You killed Brent Spiner (although he’s apparently back in the sequel)!
Ultimately, as its writer and director both openly admitted, Independence Day is simply War of the Worlds updated for the mid-90s. What if the sequel took its cue from another sci-fi classic like Invasion of the Body Snatchers or the old mini-series V?
Clearly, the humans would spend the years after the first movie studying and salvaging the alien technology on all of the ships which crashed to Earth after being infected by Goldblum’s magical computer virus. The world would come together to form a global defense operation, forever building up an aerial unit with alien technology-enhanced ships. In general, our eyes would be forever fixed on the skies, awaiting the aliens’ return or perhaps a visit from another alien race. Wouldn’t that be the perfect time for the aliens to take a different approach to global domination? What if they were somehow able to infiltrate the human population, sow discontent and rise to positions of power?
But, wait, how would they do that? We saw what they looked like when Will Smith beat the crap out of that one in the desert. Those nasty looking buggers can’t just put on wigs and novelty glasses and pass for human.
Well, duh. That was one of those details I never really thought through. Maybe the aliens had even more varied technology capabilities than we realized from the first film. Or maybe being defeated by us would inspire them to study us even closer and adopt a new strategy in their inter-galactic scavenging quest. The point was that if you wanted to do something a little different in the sequel you could steal from other sci-fi classics. Have the attack come from within.
Or maybe you could have the humans build up their firepower over the years, but the evil aliens never come back because we either killed all of them or they want nothing to do with us. In their place, we meet a seemingly non-hostile race of humanoid-like aliens…and we kill them because we’re too psychologically damaged as a race to ever trust again. Do an I Am Legend ending where it turns out we are the villains, not the “evil other.”
Yeah, I don’t know what I was thinking. Neither of those versions of Independence Day 2 actually sound like an Independence Day movie. My covert invasion idea is probably just me unintentionally ripping off The Skrull Invasion arc in Marvel comics, minus shapeshifting. No, a proper Independence Day sequel has the aliens return with a space ship that is actually as big as our entire planet so that Jeff Goldblum can look up at it and despair, “It’s definitely bigger than the last one.” This version has Bill Pullman delivering another iconic “Today, we celebrate…” speech but applicable to the entire world this time, not just the gold ole US of A. Now, that looks like an Independence Day movie.
BTW, I put together an oral history of the first Independence Day movie. You should read it. Right now. Click here for the link.
Why aren’t you reading it yet? The only acceptable answer is that you already read it back when I first published it in April. Otherwise, I’ll hear no more excuses from you about lack of interest/time for my oral history of Independence Day. Here’s the link again.
You’re still not reading it!! Fine. Don’t read it. Just leave a comment below to share your thoughts on the new trailer.
You’re not even going to do that! Seriously? You’ve got some nerve.