Deadline is reporting a very wishy-washy story that at first announces, in headline form, “Will Smith Won’t Appear In Sequel To ‘Independence Day'” before later stating:
I don’t believe that Smith has had the final conversation yet with Emmerich, but
that will likely happen shortly. I was told not to set this in stone, because
Smith has been back and forth before on whether to make the movie, though I hear
he is pretty much decided.
Okay then. So definitely happening, though maybe not. Wink?
Let’s state the obvious: Smith needs this more than he may want to believe. After Earth was not completely terrible (it’s like Survival Quest with fear-smelling aliens taking the role of the bullies), but the elder Smith spent the majority of that film in a chair, slowly bleeding to death with a moribund look on his face. That’s not the Will Smith anyone wants to see, if they want to see him at all. At his best, he was a charisma factory, first as a so-so, all-ages rapper and later in a fairly traditional fish-out-of-water sitcom. The Fresh Prince 0f Bel Air doesn’t survive pilot season without Smith, and he used his time on that show to cultivate a strong persona that would carry him through most of the films that made him a star. In hindsight, he seemed to be reworking the formula that made Michael J. Fox as bulletproof as he was: A cocky, charming beta-as-alpha who used humor to back out of physically threatening situations, thus always coming across as the underdog regardless of how often he won the day.
He lost that formula along the way, or more accurately, he threw it out in pursuit of more traditionally dramatic roles. That’s admirable, but again, not where his strength lies. The world at large may not need a sequel to Independence Day, but Smith shouldn’t be so quick to turn his back on it, especially if like the first film, he’s part of an ensemble rather than the star. Smith’s also been spreading his wings through the pre-production of most of his recent output, molding scripts to suit his needs. If he can relax back into the role that made him a star and prove himself to be a team player again, I bet audiences respond to that, even subconsciously.
Ultimately, I don’t know what this sequel looks like without him. Hell, I don’t know what the movie looks like, period. It’s likely going to lean on the nostalgia of the first film and regardless of how much sense it makes to have Smith’s fighter pilot character fold into the story, it’s going to feel incomplete if he’s not there at all.