Will Smith is apparently dead in The Tomorrow War cinematic universe, and this could be a subtle reference to his Independence Day character. Though there are time travel elements thrown in, The Tomorrow War is getting a lot of comparisons to Independence Day due to its similar premise. Both movies even shared an Independence Day opening weekend, though The Tomorrow War skipped a theatrical premiere to debut exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.
The new sci-fi action movie, which is directed by Chris McKay, stars Chris Pratt in the lead role as Dan Forester, a draftee sent thirty years into the future to help fight back against an alien invasion. When Dan and his fellow draftees arrive in Miami in 2051, they see that the famous city has been totally decimated by the creatures known as Whitespikes. Scoping out the area, two other characters make a reference to Will Smith that reveals that the Independence Day star has died in this timeline.
"Welcome to Miami," says Dorian (Edwin Hodge), referring to the destroyed city.
"I'm just glad Will Smith isn't alive to see this," responds Dan's pal Charlie (Sam Richardson).
On the surface, the line appears to be a passing reference to a notable celebrity associated with Miami, but the dialogue might be a bit more layered than that. After starring in the original Independence Day, Smith decided not to return for the sequel Independence Day: Resurgence in 2016. It was explained in the sequel that his character, Steven Hiller, had been killed off before the events of the new movie. The line of dialogue about Smith's death could be subtly alluding to the fate of his ID4 character.
The joke also calls back to one of Smith's most famous songs from his hip hop days. In 1998, Smith released the single "Miami" from his debut solo album Big Willie Style. It charted at No. 17 on the Billboard Hot 100 and won a MTV VMA Best Male Video award. Certainly, Smith is more well-known as an actor these days after starring in so many blockbuster movies, but "Miami" is certainly one of the first singles fans will think of from Smith's rap career. It's possible that The Tomorrow War line was also referring to this song.
What we don't know is when Smith apparently died in The Tomorrow War canon. As it's a time traveler from the present day that makes the comment, it seems more like Smith must have already passed away before the events of the movie. It's also possible that he was one of the humans drafted to be sent to 2051 to fight the Whitespikes, only to be killed in action 30 years in the future sometime before Dan and Charlie made their jump.
In any case, the Will Smith line is a fun Easter egg acknowledging the star of Independence Day, a movie that seems to have inspired The Tomorrow War in some ways. At least the beloved Hollywood star is still with us in real life. You can watch The Tomorrow War now streaming on Amazon Prime Video.