Now that an Independence Day sequel is in the works, writer and producer Dean Devlin wants to clear up some confusion about the first film’s infamously goofy computer-virus scene. Fans of the 1996 sci-fi blockbuster will recall that Jeff Goldblum, playing MIT-trained computer expert David Levinson, thwarts an entire alien invasion by sending a virus from his Mac PowerBook to infect their spaceships. During his Reddit AMA on Sunday, Devlin was asked a question that countless Independence Day viewers have pondered over the years: How was a human computer virus able to infect the aliens computers?
Sure enough, the screenwriter had an explanation. “Okay: what Jeff Goldblum’s character discovered was that the programming structure of the alien ship was a binary code,” Devlin replied. “And as any beginning programmer can tell you, binary code is a series of ones and zeroes. What Goldblum’s character did was turn the ones into zeroes and the zeroes into ones, effectively reversing the code that was sent.”
Well, that explains that. Just one thing: how did Goldblum’s 1995 laptop, with its 8MB hard drive, have enough memory to transmit a virus to an entire fleet of spaceships? Also, since this was years before high-speed Wi-Fi, how did he connect his computer to the alien ships in the first place? And wouldn’t the aliens have some kind of firewall to protect themselves from primitive human computer viruses? Okay, actually, Devlin’s explanation doesn’t really clear anything up. But he says it with such conviction that we have to give him props. (There’s also a deleted scene that made the whole hacking scheme seem a little more plausible.)
Devlin is currently working on the Independence Day sequel, coming to theaters on July 4, 2016. In the AMA, he admitted that he “had to do a pretty big rewrite” when Will Smith decided not to sign on. “I was really hoping to make the movie with Will, but after some serious consideration, he decided it wasn’t right for him to do,” said Devlin. “So new writers were brought in, who adapted my script, and evolved it. But you will be excited to know there are some favorites from the film returning.” While Devlin doesn’t confirm the identity of those “favorites,” Goldblum has said that his character will return in the sequel. We can’t wait to see what David Levinson uses to hack the aliens this time. An iPod Shuffle, perhaps?