Must go faster, must go faster...
~ Dave escaping the alien mothership
They like to get the landmarks.
~ David Levinson

David Levinson is the one of the main protagonists of Independence Day. He plays a key role in saving the world first by warning the president of the alien attack countdown and then by uploading a computer virus into the mothership disabling the aliens' shields. He returned in the 2016 sequel Independence Day: Resurgence as the tritagonist and director of Earth Space Defense (aka ESD).

The character is played by Jeff Goldblum, who is known for playing Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park.



David was born in 1962 and at the age of five, he was highly intelligent to the point of correctly multiplying the sales tax from buying groceries at a local grocery store. At eight years old, David was taught by his father Julius to play chess in which he regularly beat him, much to Julius' consternation. David would eventually excelled in academics in which he became a National Merit Finalist and was the 1% of students who got a perfect ACT score. At a very young age of sixteen David graduated early from high school and accepted a full scholarship in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. David became an environmentalist and was very conscientious of how humanity threatens Earth with their waste and pollution. He preferred riding his bicycle over carbon emission cars, and lectured his friends and family on recycling wastes.

In the 1980's, David first met his wife Constance Spano while spending a rare night off in Boston. After graduating in 1985, David married Constance. But despite his keen intellect, David was considerably unambitious and didn't want to do as much as he is really capable of, preferring to work at Compact Cable in Manhattan - in which his father calls him, a "cable repairman". David's attitude caused him to grow distant his wife, who in contrast sought more opportunities by becoming a campaign manager in Thomas Whitmore presidential campaign.

David was acquainted with Thomas Whitmore, who was an old friend of Constance and attended their wedding, and mistakenly assumed Constance was having an affair with him. This lead to a physical altercation with Whitmore started by David in which it consequently lead to Constance divorcing him in 1993. Despite the divorce, David retained his feelings for Constance and continued wearing his wedding ring.

War of 1996

On July 2, 1996, David was summoned by his boss Marty Gilbert to help his cable company that has been suffering from an unknown interference that has been disrupting television and satellite transmissions across the entire northern hemisphere. He discovered a signal embedded into the satellite feed which David was able to decode the signal and learning that it is recycling itself to nothing. By this time, the cause of the signal reveals itself in the form of massive alien ships. David then realized to his horror that the signal is a countdown to a coordinated attack by the aliens.

David contacted and tried to warn his ex-wife to leave Washington, D.C. However, in his exhausted and terrified mood, he comes across as extremely paranoid and Constance dismissed him. David resorted to getting Julius and leaving New York, and driving to Washington, as Constance was remaining with the President's staff to establish communications with the aliens. After parking near the White House, David managed to call Constance from her cellphone and explaining to her about the countdown. Initially David intended to only have Constance leave with him, but he is convinced by his ex-wife to warn President Whitmore. 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.

The next day, Whitmore 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 battle that ended in the humans' overwhelming defeat. After the unsuccessful counterattack, Nimzicki suggested a nuclear attack, which David is strongly opposed. During the ensuing argument between David and Nimzicki, Julius defended his unappreciated son and accused the officials that they did nothing to prevent the attacks while David had saved their lives with his warning. 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 preserved dead aliens up close. David was then requested by Whitmore to help Okun to learn more about the aliens.

Soon afterwards, a live alien is captured 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 over the unsuccessful nuclear strike in Houston, but then comes up with an idea on how to defeat the aliens thanks to a simple reminder from Julius. He proposed a plan to use the recovered alien attacker to infiltrate the aliens' mothership in space and upload a computer virus into its mainframe and deactivating their shields, allowing conventional weapons to take down the City Destroyers. Afterwards, deploying a nuclear warhead inside the mothership, this ensuring disorientation to the invaders. The President accepted 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 warhead into the heart of the mothership and barely manage to escape as the explosion 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 the City Destroyers are brought down. The two safely crash land in the desert outside of Area 51 and are greeted and congratulated by Whitmore. David reunited with his wife 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 up in 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 to Whitmore 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 other nations such as 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 27th, 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 remained 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 a 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 group's 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 Julius 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 recovered from the Moon was soon opened by Dr. Brackish Okun and it released an Sphere the being was indeed benevolent as David previously assessed. It had come to Earth to evacuate humanity and join a resistance force of other alien races to fight against their common enemy, the "Harvesters". 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 gets an idea; given that the Harvester Queen is aware of the Sphere's presence, the ESD can hide the Sphere and duplicate its signal to lure the Queen into a trap in the salt flats, where cold fusion bombs can be detonated and contained in a force-field. However, this endeavor requires the sacrifice of a pilot to fly a space tug into the Queen's ship with the bombs. Much to David's surprise, Thomas Whitmore volunteered to be the pilot.

David oversees 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 survives due to her personal energy shield. David quickly commandeered Julius' bus and taking his father and the children he gathered flees from the 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 watches her attempt to forcefully obtain the Sphere until she is killed by ESD pilots. With the Queen dead, the Harvesters lose cohesion and the mothership leaves Earth. David was congratulated by now President Joshua Adams. 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 asks them to lead the resistance in preparation for a counterattack on the Harvesters.

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