After Alien Covenant: What's Next for the Alien Franchise?

After Alien Covenant: What's Next for the Alien Franchise?

After Alien Covenant

Ridley Scott's Alien is considered one of the greatest sci-fi and horror films of all time for a variety of reasons. The protagonist Ellen Ripley, embodied by Sigourney Weaver, has become as iconic as her opponent, the eponymous creature from a strange world, now known as Xenomorph. Both the first and the second part are classics of their respective genres and the brisk sayings of the characters are by no means the only ones that are regularly cited in pop culture to this day. Individual shots, typical characters or even entire scenes can be found in the form of homages or archetypes even in current films such as Army of the Dead or series such as Stranger Things. Part three and four couldn’t match the quality of alien and aliens, but the fact that every single film was made by a different director was always fascinating for me and gives the series a very special charm.

Die Prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant are again from Ridley Scott. Where the former still had enough interesting ideas to at least provide material for discussion, Covenant then only looked like an infusion of old iconography and largely one-dimensional, insignificant figures. At this point I want to try to resolve the reasons for this, in my opinion, and how the series can find its way back to its old strength.

What makes alien so special?

The first alien film from 1979 has a relatively simple premise, which is often summarized as "slasher film in space". A series of characters, one after the other being chased and killed by a monster and the setting means there is no easy escape. So technically a fitting summary. The elements that make Alien iconic, however, are not the fancy kills, as is usual for the genre. Even if the legendary chest-burster scene is of course one of the most outstanding moments of shock in film history. Rather, the strengths of Alien lie in how the film stands out from other slashers. The hunted in Alien are not horny teenagers and the monster is not after them for a specific reason. On the contrary, what makes the alien so creepy is that it kills out of pure instinct, not out of lack of food or revenge or because someone stole its eggs. It's an organism that is programmed to kill.

The poster for the first alien film Source: 20th Century Fox

So it's not just about the fate of the astronauts, but about them Implications of what they find in the vastness of space. Alien did more with the works of H.P. Lovecraft shared as Friday the 13th, Sleepaway Camp and Motel Hell. The fact that we do not understand the alien's motivations, that there is no way to communicate with him or influence his behavior, and even a successful attempt to defend himself can be fatal by his acidic blood, is what makes the creature so unpredictable and impossible to defeat. And the certainty that there may be more of them, or even far worse, lurking out there is what defines the essence of Alien for me. Humanity breaks into the unknown, finds the inexplicable and becomes aware of its own insignificance through the confrontation. Similar to The Thing by John Carpenter, published three years later, Alien is set in a nihilistic universe in which contact with the alien and the attempt to understand it are doomed to failure and the only logical consequence of what is happening should be the Fearing space and hoping never to be haunted by an alien on earth.


Alien: Modern trailer for the science fiction classic loadVideoPlayer ('77689', ' & sAdSetCsategory = article_featured ', 16, '16: 9', false, 1373772, false, 259037, 260, false, 0, '', '', false); Alien - The creepy creature from a strange world from 8.47 € It is of course also impossible to talk about the strengths of Alien without mentioning the fantastic monster design. Designed by the Swiss artist Hansruedi Giger, the Xenomorph is one of the most ingenious creatures that has ever been captured on celluloid. The perversion of human genitals into a completely alien monster that forcibly penetrates its victims with a phallic object and impregnates them with a parasite, like many of Giger's works, connects the sexual with the terrible. But beyond the symbolism, the design of the creature is just brilliant.

Still, I think that the decision to have it appear in every single alien film was a big mistake.

Is an alien without an alien still an alien? An unpopular opinion

Even though I mentioned above that I have something to do with every part of the original Alien series and that it is charming that different directors worked on it, I can no longer get around the bush now just straight to my confession. I certainly have an unpopular opinion about the first four films: I believe James Cameron's Aliens is the reason the series has dwindled so much with each successive installment.

Aliens made Sigourney Weaver an action icon Source: 20th Century Fox The decision to make an action film out of the sequel suits Cameron and I basically like the fact that he's playing around with mythology and creating something of his own. Still, I can't get rid of the thought that he ruined the Xenomorph and the unique atmosphere of the franchise with his film. Instead of a creature, Cameron suddenly lets go of numerous aliens led by a queen and replaces the Nostromo working class crew from Part 1 with Space Marines armed to the teeth. With Newt there is also a child who has to be heroically saved and protected by Ripley.

The result is a blockbuster classic that is still impressive today, but with little of the original Alien motifs has to do. With Alien 3 and 4, two films follow, which were shaped by a violent tug of war behind the scenes and which rely entirely on the popularity of the Xenomorph and the heroine Ellen Ripley.

With the end of their story in Alien - The Rebirth Seemed also decided the end of the franchise for many fans, until Ridley Scott launched a reboot with Prometheus, which promised to expand the universe and at the same time return to the horror roots of the series. At least in the first half of the film, that works quite well, apart from a few stupid character decisions. Like the original, Prometheus shows strong parallels to H.P. Lovecraft's works and is so reminiscent of his novella "At the Mountains of Madness" that Guillermo del Toro, who was working on an adaptation during the production of Prometheus, decided to let it die. The similarities were too serious, which is why del Toro decided to realize another of his numerous projects.

The plot of Prometheus revolves around the search for the origin of human life. The team around Elizebeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace), who is funded a mission to the alleged cradle of creation by the seedy Weyland (Guy Pearce), finds answers there that again testify to the relative insignificance of humanity. The numerous allusions to the eponymous myth and other creation stories as well as the parallels to Lovecraft made my heart beat faster when I saw the film for the first time. Unfortunately, Prometheus turned into an increasingly stupid film towards the end. Above all, the fact that Scott couldn't help pulling a (proto-) xenomorph out of his hat and repeating the same thing in Alien: Covenant (buy now € 9.79) clearly devalues ​​the entire work in my eyes. I am also upset that the designer and protagonist Shaw in the sequel was written extremely ingloriously from history. The only positive element that persists throughout the new films is Android David, played by Michael Fassbender. The character seems to be close to Scott's heart and what interests him most. While the alien sequences in Prometheus and Covenant feel like uninspired and reluctant fan service (which they probably are), the scenes with David are philosophical, well-acted, and often hilarious in both senses of the word. The portrayal of Lucifer in John Milton's Paradise Lost was apparently an inspiration for his character. The title of the film was also originally intended to refer to the poem. There are also clear parallels to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein.

Scott had announced that he would make three prequel films, the last of which should lead to the original film. As the director's eternal defender, I wish him to finish this series as he wants. As a fan of the Alien series, I also mourn what I think the new films could have been: A new start in which the "Alien" in the title does not have to mean a xenomorph, but the foreign itself.

Science fiction horror, in which humanity is confronted in the vastness of space with uncomfortable and shocking truths, seems to have been Ridley Scott's original idea for Alien. With Prometheus and Covenant, attempts were made to find their way back to this idea. However, the execution failed in both cases.

What should the future bring?

However, that does not mean that it is still not possible to develop the franchise in this direction and revitalize it with an independent idea. What it will look like with a successor to Covenant is currently uncertain, but a series offshoot has been announced that will take place in the same universe. The series will be set entirely on Earth and developed by "Fargo" and "Legion" creator Noah Hawley. Ridley Scott is said to have been offered a producer role.

Noah Hawley's Fargo Source: EuroVideo Hawley, who spoke about his ideas for Alien before he got the job, reportedly plans to actually remove the Xenomorph from the series for the time being keep away. His pitch for an alien miniseries in September 2020 was that he would want to do the same with Alien what he did with superheroes at Legion. So, for the time being, take out the genre elements that the audience firmly expects and with which they may be oversaturated - with Legion sprawling battles with superpowers - and focus on the personalities of the characters and their interpersonal problems. Only when the audience has fully immersed themselves in the story does he want to introduce the alien back into the story as a bonus, so to speak.

To me, the series definitely sounds more exciting than the one that was planned and then discontinued Alien 5 that Neil Blomkamp wanted to develop and that would have brought back Sigourney Weaver as Ripley. I'm not too keen on another Ridley Scott prequel either. At least not if the trend continues and a standalone premise is sacrificed in the final act to make room for some cheap alien kills.

Should there actually be an official fifth installment or a reboot of the franchise at some point , I wish this wasn't just about the creature either. The more often I see the Xenomorph design, the less I find it scary.

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Also if Hawley's films and series are definitely not for everyone, and I don't like everything the man has done either, his approach is to be welcomed. I don't want to see the same archetypes of characters being killed one by one in the old fashioned way. I'm ready for completely new atrocities.

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