Viewers got the first peek at “Independence Day: Resurgence” on Sunday when the trailer for the sequel to the 1996 blockbuster original was released. The two-minute-plus teaser didn’t have the kind of shocking “White House blowing up” moment that the first did — but it did offer up something almost as explosive: actress Sela Ward playing the president.
Ward’s President Lanford, the commander-in-chief during the return of those pesky aliens that Will Smith fought in the original film, is only the ninth-ever female POTUS portrayed on the big screen (contrast that with nearly 150 male movie presidents, at least by the Wikipedia page count). Alas, the trailer doesn’t tell us much about what kind of approval ratings Lanford would draw — we see her briefly looking determinedly into a blue glow (probably attacking aliens?) before her security detail closes around her and starts shooting.
But there’s reason to be hopeful that the character will be a better commander-in-chief than her predecessors in the lady-POTUS canon, most of whom are downright disasters of incompetence. Forebears include President Leslie McCloud in the 1964 “Kisses for My President” (who can’t make the work/family thing work and ultimately resigns), Loretta Swit as President Barbara Adams in 1986’s “Whoops Apocalypse” (accidentally sets off a nuclear attack), Christina Applegate as President Diane Steen in the 1998 farce “Mafia!” (she alllmost achieves world peace, but decides to put the disarmament deal aside to get hitched).
Ward says her character is more battle-ready than the president in the first Independence Day installment (played by Bill Pullman). “She’s tougher, more decisive, not afraid to use force, she’s more aggressive,” Ward said. “She’s a very different animal because it’s a very different time.”
In other words, she’s ready for that 3 a.m. call.