We’ve known for while that the next Independence Day would bring back more than a few familiar faces, and that one of those faces would not be Will Smith’s resident Earth-welcomer Steven Hiller. But thanks to a new tie-in website, there’s now an in-universe reason for his absence... and a rather permanent one at that.

To coincide with the release of the new trailer, Fox have revealed a viral website called ‚ÄúThe War of 1996,‚ÄĚ filled with recollections of the original movie‚Äôs events from an in-universe perspective, as well as details about what the world has been like in the 20 years between the first movie and its upcoming sequel. Hidden among the faux-documentary tidbits? The fact that Hiller is dead.

Yes, according to the site, in 2007 Hiller was killed in the first test of a hybrid alien/human fighter, caught in a fiery explosion following a technical fault. Not exactly the best way for the hero to go out, but oh well. Here’s how the site describes it:

While test piloting the ESD‚Äôs first alien hybrid fighter, an unknown malfunction causes the untimely death of Col. Hiller. Hiller‚Äôs valor in the War of ‚Äė96 made him a beloved global icon whose selfless assault against the alien mothership lead directly to the enemy‚Äôs defeat. He is survived by his wife Jasmine and his son Dylan.


It‚Äôs kind of a shame that the reveal that one of the main characters from the original was killed off comes in this viral tie-in website than the movie itself‚ÄĒit could get mentionedat some point, sure, but still!‚ÄĒbut I guess that answers the question of whether or not Smith would ever return to the series for good.

[Via Comicbook.com]