When Independence Day was released in 1996, it was a spectacle on a whole new level for the sci-fi genre. A blockbuster to measure other blockbusters against. But despite its huge success, it took 20 years for a sequel to come out. And when it did, it was terrible.

Fans of the original (like myself) are still licking our wounds over how bad 2016’s Independence Day: Resurgence is and, in a new interview, one of the film’s creators seems to feel the same way. “I think Roland [Emmerich] directed a really interesting movie, but the studio asked us to make changes that didn’t make any sense to me and ultimately we put out a movie that I’m not crazy about,” co-writer and producer Dean Devlin told Yahoo in a new interview. “[Fox executives] said, ‘Modern tentpole movies don’t have comedy in them anymore,’ and I was like, ‘Have you ever seen a Marvel movie?’”

Lack of humor in the movie is one thing; the lack of the main star is another. In the same interview, Devlin talked about how the original plan for the sequel (and the potential third film, too) was to focus on Will Smith’s character Steven Hiller. Of course, in the film that was released, Hiller is dead and his son is among the main characters. That was not the original plan.

“Before [Devlin and Emmerich] wrote one word, we met with Will Smith and said, ‘This is the idea we have.’ He loved it and was super-excited to do it,” Devlin said. “We wrote not just one, but two sequels with him in mind and we handed them into the studio. They went crazy and greenlit immediately; the told us, ‘This is the best first draft we’ve ever read of any script.’”

So what happened in those scripts? “It was a bit like Rocky III,” Devlin continued. “He’d gotten rich and he’d gotten famous, and he had to get the eye of the tiger back you know? He’s a little too comfortable and it’s his chance to bring the old Will Smith out of retirement.”

Sounds cool. But, as we now know, Smith dropped out of the projects before filming (Devlin thinks he felt a little burned by his sci-fi bomb, After Earth) and forced everyone to go in a different direction. “[Fox executives] also wanted to concentrate on the younger pilots, who didn’t have as much to do with the original Independence Day,” Devlin said. “They thought that young people wouldn’t want to watch Jeff Goldblum, which I thought was crazy. There was a great movie to be made there, and I wish we had made it.” Us too, Dean. Us too.

Over on Yahoo, you can read more about the Independence Day drama as well as what Devlin and Emmerich had planned for Godzilla 2 and Stargate 2. And look, we still think they should make the third movie where the humans invade the alien planet.

Want more io9 news? Check out when to expect the latest Marvel, Star Wars, and Star Trek releases, what’s next for the DC Universe on film and TV, and everything you need to know about the future of Doctor Who.

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