Where do we go from here? That seems to be the common question about the Alien series these days. Since its 1979 release, the original has consistently been called one of the greatest science fiction movies ever made. The last 40 years have been spent trying to recapture that spirit, and the results have been very hit and miss. Since 2017, it’s been hard to say where the series will go next, with the franchise changing studios only deepening the mystery. There are many dark corridors down which to go, but which one will studios chose? Let’s examine some of the choices.
CONTINUE THE ORIGINAL SERIES
The most obvious route is simply to pick up where Alien: Resurrection left off. The fourth film in the original series, Resurrection brought Sigourney Weaver back as Ripley 8, a clone of the original hero. She battled various alien foes alongside an impressive ensemble including Winona Ryder and Ron Perlman before they arrived on a desolate Earth. Were a sequel to be made, it seems likely that’s where it would begin. While Resurrection could hardly be called a fan favorite, there are things to consider.
The idea of an Alien film set on Earth has been considered for some time. At one time it was to be the plot of Alien 3, an idea that made it into the film’s earliest teasers. Much of the cast has also seen great success in recent years. Ryder, in particular, has seen a career comeback with Stranger Things, which could prove an effective draw for audiences. Finally, Ripley 8 was, if nothing else, very interesting. Given better material, who knows what a deeper exploration of her character could bring? A post-Resurrection sequel is one of many paths currently open. If it avoids the mistakes of its predecessor, it might be a worthwhile one.
CONCLUDE THE PREQUELS
Another possible route for the series is to conclude Ridley Scott’s prequel series. Starting with 2012’s Prometheus and continuing with 2017’s Alien: Covenant, these films not only explained the origins of the Space Jockey and the Alien itself, but also took the series in a new direction by exploring the dangers of artificial intelligence. An android named David 8 (played by Michael Fassbender) served as the lead as we follow his descent into madness. These films were among the most divisive in the series, with some appreciating the new direction and others feeling it spoiled the mystery of the original. Given that, why continue it?
Covenant‘s ending begs for a sequel, further following David 8 as he turns on mankind. David 8 is not without his fans, and there are undeniably interesting themes to explore with this character. Aside from split fan reactions, the biggest obstacle for this route is practicality. Alien: Covenant was a box office disappointment, suffered an 80% drop in attendance its second weekend. The drop was largely attributed to bad word of mouth. David 8 does have fans, but they weren’t enough to save Covenant. Time will tell if they’re enough to summon an ending for this story.
A soft reboot has also been proposed, and very nearly happened prior to Alien: Covenant. South African filmmaker Neil Blomkamp was set to write and direct a film ignoring everything after Aliens and reuniting Sigourney Weaver with key members of the cast. The project generated a lot of hype before it was ultimately scrapped. There were, of course, some issues with this plan. The third film has gone through something of a reappraisal, so the decision to ignore it was controversial. Blomkamp’s filmography has also been mixed at best, which didn’t generate much confidence for him as director. Still, the series is no stranger to retcons, with the prequels themselves contradicting the previously canon Alien vs. Predator movies. Would another such attempt be worth it?
Soft retcons have managed to re-energize an ailing series. Most recently, David Gordon Green’s Halloween ignored all previous sequels to Carpenter’s classic. Though not without its faults, the film was a hit with critics and audiences, paving the way for two more sequels. Could a similar approach work with Alien? Could it take place after Aliens and feature the return of Ripley? Perhaps ignore Resurrection and follow Robert Morse after Alien 3? One thing is clear. Blomkamp’s project came very close to getting made. The idea of an alternate timeline can’t be ruled out.
Of course, these are just three possibilities among too many to name. If there’s one thing we know, it’s that Alien is very unpredictable. No one could have expected the second film to be as different yet somehow complementary to the original as it turned out to be. Likewise, the almost oppressively bleak tone of the third film blindsided audiences at the time. In a series full of bizarre choices, the future of Alien may be stranger still.
Someone could scrap it all and just start over with a remake. There’s also the possibility of further attempts at Alien vs. Predator movies as the crossover series still remains popular in the expanded universe. Perhaps none of these things will be it. Maybe there won’t even be a movie. With the rise of streaming services, perhaps a streaming series set in this universe may be on the horizon. The Disney + series The Mandalorian has actually proven more successful among Star Wars fans than the new trilogy of theatrical films. Perhaps the perfect organism will soon find a new home in such a place.
Alien has struggled for some time to regain its footing. There are endless directions it could go, with little agreement among filmmakers or fans over which is best. When Executive Officer Kane first descended into the bowels of the Derelict ship, everyone was in the dark as to what was coming next. All they could see were an endless sea of eggs, and possibilities. Only time knows which nightmare will eventually hatch.
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