Did you know that in 1996, Will Smith saved the world from aliens and became the king of the July 4 box office weekend, all at the same time? The first Independence Day movie decimated records when it made first contact with a salivating audience thirsty for a big-budget, no-holds-barred disaster movie. Patriotism meets cool explosions in Independence Day, and that combination was irresistible to the U.S. movie-going public. Two decades later (I know, it feels impossible), and Earth’s hostile visitors are back. The sequel is getting a jump on the all-American holiday; Independence Day: Resurgence comes out on June 24. If it’s anything like the original, this movie will also run on dramatic monologues and blowing stuff up. Read on for an Independence Day recap to remind you how the aliens were sent packing the first time around.
Smith isn’t back as fighter pilot Steven Hiller for Independence Day: Resurgence , but many of his co-stars are, including Jeff Goldblum as satellite tech David Levinson, Bill Pullman as former President Whitmore; and Vivica A. Fox as Jasmine, Hiller’s lady love. There’ll be new characters too (look for Liam Hemsworth, Sela Ward, and Jessie Usher), but certainly it helps that this original team has saved the planet once before. How did they do it? With a computer virus and a whole lot of guts.
The Aliens Are Here & They're Pissed
Goldblum's scientist is the first human to catch wise to the menacing plans of some otherworldly visitors. Levinson and his ex-wife White House Communications Director Constance Spano warn the President about the unidentified crafts that have taken up air space over major cities, but it's too late to coordinate a large-scale evacuation.
Heavily Populated American Cities Are Destroyed
...Including Washington DC. The president, Levinson, and other high-ranking officials escape the destruction on Air Force One. Now, it's war.
Will Smith Punches An Alien At The Grand Canyon
In probably the film's most iconic and frequently quoted scene, brash Captain Hiller lures an alien craft to a this tourist attraction and welcomes it to earth with a left hook. He's our hero.
...Then Meets Up With A Conspiracy Theorist Who Doesn't Seem So Crazy Anymore
Real life conspiracy truther Randy Quaid plays Russell Casse, a man whose life fell apart when he began claiming to have been abducted by aliens and no one believed him.
Roswell Was Real & Part Of The Government Is In On It
President Whitmore is a good guy, but some of his predecessors were not. Powerful humans have been in league with the aliens for decades. Somewhere Fox Mulder is saying "I told you so."
The Aliens Can Possess Humans, Which Is Fun
Whitmore attempts to negotiate, but to no avail. These aliens aren't misunderstood. They're not more scared of us than we are of them. They want to wipe out humanity and swipe its resources for themselves.
Nukes Have No Effect On Their Ships
The aliens' force fields are powerful enough to stop the most powerful WMDs.
Hiller & Levinson Go Behind Enemy Lines
Because it's the '90s, the new plan hinges on a computer virus being uploaded to the alien mainframe. This has to be done inside the mothership, so Hiller flies Levinson to the craft so he can hack in. Fortunately, there's time for banter.
Sometimes When You Want Something Done Right, You've Got To Do It Yourself
The early attacks have the armed forced short on fighter pilots. Luckily this president is a former military man. Whitmore suits up to fly into battle himself, but not before giving one hell of a motivational speech.
Casse Sacrifices Himself
The aliens destroyed his life, so Casse has no qualms about completing a kamikaze mission to get back at them.
Baby You're A Firework
The aliens get what's theirs and the resulting blasts look an awful lot like a Fourth Of July fireworks finale. 'Murica!
20 years later and Independence Day is still loud, silly fun. The perfect summer movie.
Images: 20th Century Fox; Giphy (11)