Independence Day: Why Do The Aliens Attack Earth? What Do They Want?

After a series of gigantic ships descend over Earth’s major cities in the 1996 science fiction film, ‘Independence Day,’ humanity faces an existential threat in the shape of an extraterrestrial invasion from outer space. As humanity confronts this overwhelming force of annihilation, it has to rely on a ragtag crew of people from all backgrounds – President Whitmore, a Marine pilot Hiller, a scientist Levinson, and an ex-military veteran Casse – to find out the nature of their enemies while also concocting a plan of counterattack. However, their only problem is the lack of knowledge they have about the aliens who seem hell-bent on eradicating the planet’s human population with no mercy. This raises several intriguing possibilities about their ultimate endgame and what they seek from the chaos they have seeded in a new world. SPOILERS AHEAD!

The Aliens Are a Hive Mind Species

For large chunks of ‘Independence Day,’ the central characters remain in the dark about the alien threat. Only David Levinson, a scientist with technical expertise, finds a message hidden within a signal sent out by the aliens after their arrival on Earth. Initially, this was the only bit of valuable information gathered by the defenders about the extraterrestrials. However, it all changes when one of the alien stragglers is captured by Steven Hiller, leading to his inspection by researchers at the secret military base of Area 51. Through a telepathic link with this being, President Thomas Whitmore learns about their plans and their true nature – comparing them to “locusts.”

According to Whitmore’s description, the outer world beings mimic the behavioral patterns of a swarm of insects. This matches up with their ability to coordinate and cooperate with one another at an intrinsic level, just like a colony of bees or ants might. Aided by their telepathic link, they are always in touch with every species member, lending a superior collective strength and unity, which makes them a formidable force. They cannot be understood the same way humans understand one another, as individuality is a marker of our kind. On the other hand, like destructive locusts descending on bountiful crops during harvest season, the aliens can be visualized through the same lens.

The Aliens and Their Parasitic Plans

Owing to their unified goals as a species, the aliens have previously attacked several other civilizations like Earth. When President Whitmore peeks into the mind of the alien, he gets a glimpse of the terror they had sowed across others in the galaxy, leading to their demise at the hands of the invaders. This constant drive to attack is a function of the alien species, who, due to their hive-mind nature, do not settle anywhere but constantly seek out new targets to ambush. All of this is rooted in their need to grow all the time. However, in order to do so, they must regularly replenish their resources, which, if they stop, will lead to stagnation or death because they do not create anything.

As such, their primary objective for invading Earth is to strip it bare of all its natural resources. Their ravenous hunger for more growth and more resources traps them in a vicious cycle where they must tend to their needs to avoid the death of their species. Hence why, they show no remorse or second thoughts in wiping out major human cities teeming with people as they are only trying to ensure their survival. For them, it is simply a case of killing or being killed. However, due to a lack of insight into their perspective, they come across as cold-blooded enemies seeking to sow wanton destruction and chaos for personal pleasure. They are only interested in gathering resources; it doesn’t matter how – a characteristic that earns them the name Harvesters from their enemies.

The Aliens Present a Formidable Opponent

The difficulties faced by humans in countering the alien forces are due to a massive technological disparity between the two species. As highlighted in the film, the aliens possess force fields that have the ability to deflect any weapon used by Earthlings in warfare. Consequently, it severely weakens Earth’s forces in their war against the invaders. Even the nukes that the desperate President Whitmore deploys lead to no visible signs of damage to their motherships. The two civilizations are on opposite spectrums when it comes to their military superiority. Yet, the extraterrestrials continue to hound out any remaining defenders by wiping out airfields or other military bases.

As the Harvesters have repeatedly destroyed other planets in the past – extracting their resources and leaving them barren – they likely have established a pattern to their movements. They employ tactics that allow them to garner the most advantage against their opponents, regardless of the differences in technological advancement. One of those methods is to eradicate the dominant species on the planet, which, in the case of Earth, happens to be humans. Thus, as the only ones who could offer any sign of resistance against them, the aliens destroy any significant places of human activity on planet Earth. This would explain their reasons for targeting major city centers around the globe.

By dismantling the primary operations of the planet’s species, the aliens weaken them and gain a footing on these new worlds. This is their foolproof plan to take over any planet by preventing the defenders from ever gathering a chance to fuel their own counterattacks. However, in the case of ‘Independence Day,’ this ends up aiding the humans, who, owing to their individual strengths and personalities, are able to come up with unique solutions that outthink their assailants. Although they have traveled many light years in their crusade of cyclical wars with other species, the Harvesters meet their match against Earth’s forces for the first time in a long time.

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