David Levinson was an uninspiring yet intelligent satellite technician living in New York City. He later helped stop an alien threat against the Earth in the War of 1996. In 2007, he became the Director of the Earth Space Defense.
David is an intelligent MIT graduate and an environmentalist, but considerably unambitious and didn't want to do as much as he is really capable of, which is an attitude that led his wife Constance Spano to divorce him before she worked in the White House while he maintained a simple job at a cable company. Despite the divorce, David retained his feelings for Constance and continued wearing his wedding ring. During an incident when he first met the soon-to-be president Thomas Whitmore, David was involved in a physical altercation with Whitmore after mistakenly assuming Constance was having an affair with him.
War of 1996
When the aliens arrived on Earth in miles-wide City Destroyer ships, David discovered satellite transmissions which he discovered were a countdown for an attack by the aliens. He and his father Julius managed to get into contact with Constance at the White House in order to warn President Thomas Whitmore of the attack, but it was only after the aliens shot down several messenger helicopters that the visitors became clearly hostile. A late mass evacuation was ordered, and David, his father, and Constance joined the President, his young daughter, Marine Corps General William Grey, and Secretary of Defense Albert Nimziki on Air Force One, which narrowly escaped from the destruction of Washington, D.C..
The next day, the president ordered a military counterattack on the City Destroyers, but were unable to penetrate the ships' energy shields, and the aliens countered with their own fighters, erupting into a one-sided dog fight that ended in the humans' overwhelming defeat. After the unsuccessful counterattack, Nimzicki suggested a nuclear attack, which David, an environmentalist, strongly opposed. During the argument, David's father defended his unappreciated son and accused the officials that they did nothing to prevent the attacks. He further rants that the government allegedly discovered aliens, which they have hidden in Area 51, much to David's embarrassment, until Nimzicki reluctantly revealed that the rumors are true but neglected to mention it before they ordered the unsuccessful counterattack.
The group landed in Area 51, where the aliens and their ship from the Roswell incident are held and studied. They are toured by the facility's chief scientist Dr. Brackish Okun, who showed them the alien ship, as well as the dead aliens up close. Soon afterwards, a live alien is recovered by Captain Steven Hiller, the only survivor of the Black Knights' attack on Los Angeles. Making contact with the alien, they learn that their race are like locusts, taking their entire civilization and moving from planet to planet consuming all of its natural resources, with Earth being the next victim. The president reluctantly orders a nuclear strike on a City Destroyer, much to David's dismay.
The next day, David was still angry and drunk for the unsuccessful nuclear strike, but then comes up with an idea on how to defeat the aliens thanks to a simple reminder from Julius. He proposes a plan to use the recovered alien attacker to infiltrate the aliens' mothership in space and upload a computer virus to disable the shields of all the City Destroyers on Earth, and planting a nuclear warhead on board the mothership. The president accepts the plan, and the remaining U.S. forces begins coordinating with the rest of the world's surviving armies for a simultaneous attack against the aliens. Before the operation begins, David and Constance attend the private wedding of Steven Hiller and his girlfriend Jasmine, where the former couple appear to reconcile with each other.
On July 4, with the Americans gathering whatever manpower they could salvage for the final attack, David and Steven flew the restored alien attacker into space, where they reach the mothership and are automatically docked inside. David successfully transmitted the computer virus, and the Americans began their attack, lead by President Whitmore, and narrowly saving Area 51 and its personnel and refugees from an overlooking City Destroyer. David and Steve launched the nuclear warhead into the heart of the mothership and barely manage to escape as the warhead completely engulfs and destroys the mothership.
By the time they make it back to Earth, the rest of the world followed the Americans' victory, and all City Destroyers are destroyed. The two successfully crash land in the desert outside of Area 51 and are greeted and congratulated by the president. Steven returns to his wife, David returns to Constance and his father, and with Earth finally saved, the heroes marvel at the sight of the City Destroyer in ruins and pieces of the mothership burning into the atmosphere.
Following after the war, David worked at Area 51 and becoming a foremost expert on alien technology. A year later, he was concerned that Area 51 was too limited to carry out the necessary research and application of alien technology massively gained from the War of 1996, and as well the likelihood that the aliens may have sent a distress signal which signifies a possible return of more alien forces. He then proposed the creation of an international agency suitable to this task. Whitmore agreed with David's proposal and consolidated it under the Earth Space Defense initiative. Also to David's surprise, Whitmore recommended on appointing him as the civilian director of the ESD. Although David politely refused Whitmore's appointment, the directorship remained his recommendation.
While serving under the Lucas Jacobs administration, David was pressured by the government to meet the deadline in re-engineered alien/human hybrid technology while stressing the safety issues of the new technology that is barely understood and cost the lives of several staff members from previous test accidents. His warnings to the government were not heeded, as the Jacobs administration was determined to catch up in technological advancement with China.
Much to David's fear, the government proceeded in hosting a manned test flight of a hybrid fighter jet in the 2007 ESD Spring Expo. Although David tried to protest against this by citing that the fighter was not ready, the current Secretary of Defense Reese Tanner had him removed from the hybrid fighter project. However, David was given a chance by Vice President Elizabeth Lanford to making sure the hybrid fighter was fully functional and safe. To David's surprise, his longtime friend Steven Hiller volunteered to be the pilot of the hybrid fighter. On April 27, David's fears were proven when the hybrid fighter malfunctioned and killed Hiller.
Director of the ESD
Hiller's demise caused David to accept the director position of the ESD after realizing that his position would prevent the loss of human lives from government negligence and ensuring hybrid research would proceed at an appropriate pace. Three years after his directorship, David faced further tragedy when Constance was killed in a car accident. David tried to proceed in his life without his wife, but remains distraught.
David attended the 2012 ESD Spring Expo. There, he first became acquainted with French psychiatrist Dr. Catherine Marceaux. David first gleaned information from a refugee from the isolationist Republic of Umbutu about the country's intact alien spaceship being capable of drilling into the earth. This discovery changed David's theory about the City Destroyers.
David would again reunite with Catherine Marceaux in Lisbon on business matters concerning alien telepathic contact on human beings. This meeting soon blossomed into an intimate relationship that allowed David to move on after his wife's death.
War of 2016
In July 2016, David was granted entry to Umbutu by Dikembe Umbutu to study the intact Destroyer, which had been automatically reactivated. He was also reunited with Dr. Marceaux. Their investigation of the Destroyer revealed that a distress signal had been sent by the ship into deep space, thus confirming his fears that the aliens have been trying to warn for help since the end of the war.
David was then informed of the loss of Rhea Base and immediately sends word of this to President Lanford. Soon afterward, an unknown alien ship appeared on the Moon. Seeing that the ship's technology does not resemble to the aliens in 1996 and showing no signs of hostile intentions, David rationalize to Lanford and the other leaders of the UN Security Council that the ship belongs to a different alien race and attacking it would provoke a war with an entirely new species. But against Levinson's urging, the council voted to shoot it down regardless. Frustrated by the incident and delayed of requesting a salvage operation, David called ESD space tug pilots Jake Morrison and Charles Miller to be taken to the site of the spaceship's wreckage in the Van de Graaff crater. Reluctantly, David also allowed Dikembe Umbutu, Dr. Marceaux, and government accountant Floyd Rosenberg to join in his investigation.
Accompanied by Morrison, David ventured through the wreckage and found an intact container holding a spherical object. Just as they recover the container, a massive alien mothership suddenly appeared. David and his group tried to flee from the mothership, but their space tug became caught in the ship's gravity. The group helplessly watched the mothership destroying the ESD Moon Base and Earth's planetary defenses. Upon entering the Earth's atmosphere, the group witnessed the mothership's gravitational pull lifting objects from across Asia and subsequently causing the debris to fall over Europe, which the space tug narrowly escape over London. While traveling to Area 51, David received a phone call from his father, who was currently fishing off the coast of Florida and trying to escape from the landing of the mothership. David tries to tell him to get to shore as fast as possible, but his call is suddenly cut off.
After arriving in Area 51, Levinson find Thomas Whitmore having lock himself with an alien prisoner in order to interrogate it. The prisoner vaguely called that "she is all" until it was killed by Dikembe. Further analysis of the alien mothership made David to realize that the aliens are being led by a queen and their operations on Earth is drilling into the Earth's core, which by removing it will destroy both the planet's magnetic field and atmosphere in the process, causing "the end of life on this planet." He then hypothesize that similar to the destruction of the mothership (along with eliminating the aliens' Queen that was unknowingly on the vessel) in 1996 in which it caused the aliens to cease their activity, and by killing the current Queen, her forces will cease drilling and retreat. The ESD acted on David's suggestion and launched a retaliatory strike on the Mothership. However, the strike failed in which the ESD forces were led into a trap and nearly decimated.
The container that was recover from the Moon was soon opened by Dr. Brackish Okun and it released an giant white sphere of artificial intelligence; the being was indeed benevolent as David previously assessed it and originally came to Earth to evacuate humanity and join a resistance force of other alien races to fight against their common enemy, the Harvesters, revealed to be the attacking aliens. The sphere implored the humans to destroy it to prevent it from falling into the possession of the Harvesters and discovering the refugee planet of the Sphere's resistance. David then have a sudden idea; given that the Harvester Queen is aware of the Sphere's presence, the ESD can hidden the Sphere and duplicate its signal to lure the Queen into a trap in the salt flats, where cold fusion bombs will be detonated and contained in a force-field. However, this endeavor required the sacrifice of a pilot to fly a space tug into the Queen's ship with the bombs. Surprisingly, Thomas Whitmore volunteered to be the pilot.
David oversee the distribution of the shield generators from Area 51 in preparation to trap the Queen's vessel. As the Harvesters began their attack, David was surprised to see a school bus driven by Julius right into the shield perimeter. He quickly flagged Julius out of the perimeter shortly before the Queen's ship falls into the trap. However, the Queen survived due to her personal energy shield. David quickly commandeered Julius' bus and taking his father and the children he gathered, and fled from a very enraged Queen. The chase ended when the Queen broke off from her pursuit and redirected her attention to Area 51 after detecting the Sphere's real location.
David followed the Queen in the school bus and can only watch her forcefully obtaining the Sphere until she is killed by ESD pilots. Fortunately for David, he quickly back up the bus and avoided from being crushed by the dying Queen. With the Queen dead, the Harvesters lose cohesion and their mothership leaves Earth. David was congratulated by General Joshua Adams and he then properly introduced Julius to Dr. Marceaux. Though having the aliens defeated, David was worried for Earth surviving another such attack. But his worries was reassured by Dr. Okun, who informed him and the ESD that the Sphere decided to offer its advanced technology to humanity and to lead the resistance in preparation for a counterattack on the Harvesters.
Independence Day: Resurgence
- “Did you hear me tell you that the signal in the satellite feed is slowly recycling down to extinction?
- David explaining to Marty of the impending aliens' attack.”
- “Pop, that's it. That's the answer. Sick. Cold. The defenses come down! It's so simple. Pops, you're a genius!
- David coming up with the idea against the aliens.”
- “It's funny, I always thought these things were gonna kill me.
- David preparing to light his cigar.”
- “Forget the fat lady. You're obsessed with the fat lady. Just get us out of here!
- David to Steven Hiller as they make their escape from the mothership.”
- “Must go faster, must go faster!
- David urging Hiller to 'go faster' while being chased by alien attackers.”
Independence Day: Crucible
- “Oh, I didn't take a swing. I connected.
- David reminiscing his physical altercation with Whitmore.”
The Art and Making of Independence Day: Resurgence
- “I do find it ironic that we came together and triumphed on a day named for independence and separation. But I'm guessing extra-terrestrials don't have a good sense of irony.
- David reminiscing the War of 1996.”
- “"If we don't end war, war will end us" is what H.G. Wells said in 1936. We now understand, finally, that we are stronger together. It's just a shame that it took the deaths of untold countless to educate us.
- David on the price of human unity.”
- “We live in a world now that feels very much like the future we envisioned back in the mid-20th century. Impossible technology, living on the moon, 'laser' guns. That said, I still need to wear glasses and I still have to remind people to recycle. It's not Utopia, but we're getting there.
- David's views on humanity's advancement.”
Independence Day: Resurgence
- “Do you want to see my best smile?
- David to Reese Tanner before hanging him up.”
- “That's... definitely bigger than the last one.
- David witnessing the Harvester Mothership.”
- “What goes up must come down.
- David realizing the debris are about to fall.”
- “They like to get the landmarks.
- David commenting on the aliens' attack on London.”
Behind the Scenes
- David was portrayed suffering from air sickness while riding Air Force One. In previous film roles, Jeff Goldblum has played characters with various sicknesses, e.g. sea sickness in The Right Stuff (1983), motion sickness in The Fly (1986), and even in Jurassic Park (1993) he's seen clutching his stomach in some scenes, etc.
- Jeff Goldblum uses one of his lines, "Must go faster, must go faster!" from Jurassic Park, during the escape from the mothership. This was at the request of director Roland Emmerich, who wanted a similar line to what Goldblum used in that movie, but couldn't quite remember the exact line.
- The laptop used by David in Independence Day is an Apple PowerBook, with a prototype designation XXXX; it was in fact a PowerBook 5300 model that was part of a high-profile product placement deal, in which Apple and Fox were able to market it as "The Power to Save the World." Incidentally, Jeff Goldblum would go on to become a spokesman for Apple Computer's highly-successful iMac computers and iBook laptop campaigns in the late 1990s.
- Independence Day (novel) Template:C
- Independence Day
- Independence Day: Crucible
- Independence Day: Resurgence