C'mon Hollywood: Give us a proper sequel to Aliens!
The ALIEN universe has been a tricky one. What began with Ridley Scott’s seminal 1979 sci-fi horror film later morphed into James Cameron’s sci-fi action flick, ALIENS, which has become a well-regarded classic since its debut. Unfortunately, the sequels that followed never tapped into either the horror of the original or the energy of the sequel, leaving us with the misguided ALIEN 3 and ALIEN: RESURRECTION (and I’m not even getting into the AVP films). In all the years after seeing Cameron’s ALIENS it has been my hope that we would one day see a proper follow-up to one of the best sci-fi films ever made, complete with returning characters, themes, atmosphere, and action, rather than the melting pot of oddities that we’ve been served.
But, is it too late for a proper sequel to ALIENS?
My answer: Not yet. But, we’re getting close. In their struggle to grasp just what the hell to do with many of their franchises, Fox has fumbled with the direction to take their ALIEN franchise, never quite finding footing. The solution for this is simple: You don’t need to fix something that isn’t broken. They’ve treated each entry in the ALIEN franchise post ALIENS almost as a soft reboot, which sours the groundwork laid beforehand, killing off key characters in a credit sequence (I’m looking at you, ALIEN 3!) and “resurrecting” Ripley (the “glue” of the ALIEN franchise, as played by Sigourney Weaver) as some weird alien/human hybrid, which served as the final nail in the coffin for the standalone franchise.
While Hollywood dropped the ball on the characters established in the first two ALIEN films, the comic book and publishing industry picked it up, continuing the adventures of not only Ripley, but of her stowaway “daughter” Newt and Colonial Marine Corporal Hicks (played by Michael Biehn in ALIENS). The comic book series Alien: Earth War picked up with the events post ALIENS in a manner that we all expected to see in a live-action sequel; Ripley awakens from hypersleep along with Newt and Hicks, only to face a battle with the Xenomorphs on her home turf: Earth.
Nope. What we got was ALIEN 3, which was basically a remake of ALIEN, and then ALIEN: RESURRECTION, which bares almost no resemblance to anything in the franchise. Since that time, there have been two B-movie incarnations of the xenomorphs in the AVP franchise, neither of which are a blip on the radar of awesome that was the first two films and feature a slew of worthless canon fodder characters that did nothing to get folks to reinvest in the franchise, changing it from a golden goose to a horse that needs to be put to pasture.
Can the franchise be reignited? Based on the box office receipts of the last few ALIEN films, not really. However, based on audience interest in the xenomorphs, not to mention the characters of Ripley, Newt, and Hicks, I think it’s possible. The first thing to be done is to ignore ALIEN 3 and ALIEN: RESURRECTION. They were bad dreams had during hypersleep. End of story. We pick up many years after ALIENS, where Ripley is a high-level officer, Newt is a grown woman, possibly in the military, and Hicks is a grizzled Colonial Marine commander, with each of them preparing to deal with a xenomorph invasion on Earth. Bring in a director with vision, someone like Neill Blomkamp, Duncan Jones, or even Guillermo Del Toro. Better yet, use the Marvel method and choose someone out of the box that simply grasps the concept of the characters and give them the best damn crew money can buy. Let them develop and see the franchise flourish as a result.
In 2012, Ridley Scott ventured back to the franchise in a roundabout way with PROMETHEUS, which I rather enjoyed and also believe should continue. However, it can easily coexist with a continued ALIEN franchise as well, which could (stay with me now) eventually merge together. Why not have Shaw and David (the surviving characters from PROMETHEUS) return to Earth after confronting the Engineers, just as the Alien invasion is underway, potentially with a means of defeating the xenomorphs and bridging the two franchises together. Sound insane? Maybe in 1986. With the new “crossover” method being shown to work exceptionally well in the comic book genre, why not with the sci-fi genre? It’s an idea ripe for exploration.
The key here is continuing a franchise with characters we actually care about, even longed to see again, while furthering a franchise in a consistent and respectable way. Some may feel that the films should just be left alone and admired for what they are and I can respect that. However, if the desire to make more films in the ALIEN franchise arises, I think that we are due a proper sequel with the characters we came to love in ALIENS, rather than another blind entry with a flavor-of-the-month cast and crew.
Sigourney Weaver and Michael Biehn aren’t getting any younger, but they’re still up to task for one last jaunt in a future full of xenomorphs and there’s quite a few female actresses who can pick up the mantle of a grown Newt. The aliens of ALIEN and ALIENS were never the stars of those films. It was always about the characters and the actors who portrayed them. If the franchise is ever awoken from its hypersleep and given another go, it’s my hope that the studio will recognize that and proceed accordingly.
What would you rather see happen with the Aliens franchise: A sequel to Aliens with the original characters, another chapter in the franchise with new characters, or a complete reboot of the whole thing?
All that hard work for nothing. Thanks, ALIEN 3!
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|Extra Tidbit:||Brad Bird summed up the ending of Alien 3 based on a conversation with Simon Pegg during MI4, which ultimately altered the ending of that film, saying, "Simon Pegg mentioned that it was kind of like the feeling that you had about Aliens after seeing Alien 3, where she goes through unbelievable hell to save a couple of people, and then both of them died before the third movie." And so, the "Alien 3 effect" is born.|