NB: The following contains a mild spoiler for Prometheus as well as earlier films in the Alien franchise.
When Prometheus emerged in 2012, it took the franchise in a very different direction – well away from the dark, metallic corridors of the main Alien movies and into broader sci-fi territory. Sure, Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel contained plenty of slithering things and a splash of blood here and there, but the director evidently had bigger things on his mind than facehuggers and xenomorphs: the origins of life on Earth, godlike beings from the other side of the galaxy, and exactly how they came to crash-land on to encounter – or perhaps even create – the title Alien from Scott’s 1979 classic.
This year’s Alien: Covenant takes things more deeply into pure sci-fi horror territory, but all the same, there are all kinds of dangling plot-threads and unfinished stories left in the franchise. Videogames, novels and audio books – like the recently-released Alien: River Of Pain – may help to expand the borders of the Alien universe, but to date, the following stories have yet to be furthered on the silver screen.
Let’s take a closer look at each in turn, followed by our best guess at the likelihood of seeing those strands picked up again in the near future…
Morse, the survivor of Alien 3
To this day, Alien 3 continues to divide fans of the series, thanks in no small part to the way it deals with the characters so carefully introduced in James Cameron’s Aliens. Quietly-spoken Colonial Marine Dwayne Hicks (Michael Biehn) and poor Newt are brutally despatched before the credits roll, leaving Ripley (Sigourney Weaver, of course) stuck, on her own, on the all-male prison planet, Fiorina 161.
A gloomy pall hangs over Alien 3 from the very beginning, then, and the clouds refuse to shift through the rest of the story. There’s a new breed of monster slaying the inmates, while Ripley discovers that she was impregnated by a facehugger in cryosleep. With Ripley sacrificing herself at the end of the movie – better to die than let Weyland-Yutani get hold of an Alien Queen specimen, she reasons – the franchise was left with just one survivor: gimlet-eyed inmate, Morse
Alien 3 concludes with the prison planet being shut down for good, while Morse (played by British actor Danny Webb) is dragged off by Weyland-Yutani. Exactly why Alien 3‘s writers chose such a random background character as the film’s lone witness is unclear – maybe the decision was a symptom of a fraught production, or perhaps it’s intended to fit with the idea that the universe is an uncaring, random place.
Whatever the reason, Morse is the rare example of a character facing the xenomorph and living to tell the tale. This begs the question: what on Earth happened to him afterwards?
Chances of the story being told: Highly unlikely. Let’s face it, the Weyland-Yutani corporation’s heartless enough to want to turn xenomorphs into weapons. In all likelihood, Morse was taken out the back and quietly shot or something.
Ripley 8 and Call from Alien: Resurrection
After the doom and gloom of Alien 3, 20th Century Fox seemed keen to take the franchise as far away from that entry as possible. At least, this might explain some of the more blackly comic moments introduced by French director Jean-Pierre Jeunet and writer Joss Whedon. Set 200 years after Alien 3, Resurrection brings Ripley back from the dead via the miracle of cloning. Scientists have taken Ripley’s DNA and fused it with that of an alien, resulting in Ripley 8 – a colder, more predatory incarnation of the alien, now possessing super-strength and acid for blood.
Alien: Resurrection, then, is a kind of space-going Jurassic Park, with Ripley stuck on another space ship teeming with xenomorphs. Once again, most of the supporting characters are brutally despatched before the closing credits, leaving only Ripley and Call, a doe-eyed synthetic played by Winona Ryder.
The theatrical cut of Resurrection has a happy ending, of sorts, with the final shot offering the promise of Ripley finally getting to return to Earth after decades in space. An alternate ending, meanwhile, has Ripley and Call touch down on our planet’s surface, where they sit among the ashen remains of a post-apocalyptic Paris. What happened? Has Weyland-Yutani’s obsession with exotic weaponry finally destroyed our species, or is Paris’ devastation just a local event? The middling critical and financial reception to Resurrection has left that question hanging in the air.
Chances of the story being told: It’s not looking good, is it? Neill Blomkamp was interested in making Alien 5, but even he didn’t want to pick up the story of Ripley 8 and Call – instead, he wanted to follow on from Aliens as though Alien 3 and Resurrection never happened. With that project now dead and Ridley Scott pressing on with his prequels, the chances of seeing Sigourney Weaver or Winona Ryder reprise their roles grows more distant with every passing year.
The further adventures of the Colonial Marines
Among all the quotable lines in Aliens, one of our favourites is one uttered by Hudson (Bill Paxton): “Is this a stand-up fight, or another bug hunt?”
It suggests so much in a handful of words. The Colonial Marines who accompany Ripley on the journey back to LV-426 are essentially a private army, and the planet of xenomorphs is far from their first mission on other worlds. Indeed, we can hear the Marines chatter about some of their other experiences early in the film (“I wouldn’t mind getting me some more of that Arcturan poontang”). The Marines we see in Aliens may come to a sticky end, but what about other detachments elsewhere in the universe? What have they encountered as they’ve helped Weyland-Yutani colonise other planets?
Chances of the story being told: The chances of a full-blown sequel to Aliens may be slim now that Blomkamp’s concept is dead, but what about a Colonial Marines TV spin-off? We’d certainly like to see what those bug hunts looked like.
Alexa Woods from Alien Vs Predator
After Alien: Resurrection came Alien Vs Predator, Paul WS Anderson’s 2004 crossover with 20th Century Fox’s other popular sci-fi property. Set in the present, with explorers discovering a big temple of xenomorphs and Predators in the Antarctic, the film made a bit of money but hardly endeared itself to fans or critics. In fact, it’s easy to forget that Alien Vs Predator’s human lead even survived the movies events; Sanaa Lathan plays the adventurer Alexa Woods, who’s the only person to come out of the deadly expedition with her limbs intact. It certainly seemed as though the producers of the AvP movies forgot about Alexa, since she was nowhere to be seen in the sequel, Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem. What happened to her? Did she make it back to civilisation? It’s possible we’ll never know.
Chances of the story being told: Virtually nil. As we’ll see shortly, Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem left some threads behind itself, which Fox has so far shown little interest in tying off. Well over a decade on from Alien Vs Predator‘s events, we’re hardly likely to see the franchise return to tell Alexa’s story – which means she could still be out there, stuck in the Antarctic, clutching her Predator spear…
Ms Yutani from Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem
Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem promised to bring copious blood and acid back to the franchise after the relatively tame (PG-13) Alien Vs Predator. While it delivered on that promise, pretty much everything else – subtlety, intelligence, plot, adequate stage lights – were conspicuously absent. This time around, xenomorphs and Predators did battle in the suburbs and sewers of Colorado, with an assorted bunch of humans randomly offed during all the collateral damage.
The film ends with all traces of the alien conflict being wiped out by a nuclear bomb, before the action cuts to one Ms Yutani, played by Francoise Yip. It turns out that the company now has its hands on some advanced technology – a gun left behind by one of the Predators. Given how much Weyland Yutani love fancy weapons, we can only guess what they’ll do with it next.
Chances of the story being told: Like Alexa from Alien Vs Predator, fairly non-existent. Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem received the most dismal reviews of any movie in the franchise so far, and Fox clearly isn’t a rush to go back and see what Ms Yutani gets up to with her futuristic gun.
Jones the cat
When Ripley left Gateway to return to LV-426 in Aliens, she left behind Jonesy, the faithful cat she saved from the Nostromo in Alien. After Aliens, there was all kinds of speculation about where the franchise might go next. Could it be that something nasty was hiding inside Jones, waiting to burst out? While Cameron ruled out the chance of making a sequel, he nixed the idea that Jones might be used as the Trojan horse for another Alien movie.
“By the way, it’s not in the goddamned cat and it’s not in Newt, either,” Cameron wrote in issue 184 of Starlog. “I would never be that cruel.”
We’re therefore left wondering who looked after Jones and what happened to him. Did he have to suffer through any more horrendous alien encounters, or did he see out his days in comfort on Gateway?
Chances of the story being told: Very unlikely. That is, unless there’s a feline uprising and our cat overlords remake the Alien franchise. We’d actually pay to see this.
LV-223 and the Deacon from Prometheus
Without spoiling things here, Alien: Covenant does, of course, continue the story established by Prometheus. But while we do discover the answers to more than a few questions, there’s one thread currently left hanging: the moon LV-223 and the creatures still stirring around on it. Lest we forget, the place is still home to snake-like Hammerpede monsters, and, even more scarily, the Deacon – that blue, scrawny monster that emerged from an impregnated Engineer. With Alien: Covenant taking place on another planet, the monsters of LV-223 are left with nothing to do but sit around and twiddle their appendages. At least, until some more hapless explorers start poking their noses around the place…
Chances of the story being told: If we’re interpreting Ridley Scott’s recent words correctly, there’s actually a fair chance that we’ll be seeing more of LV-223. In March, the veteran director was talking about his plans for the Alien prequel series, and how there are still a couple more films to go before it joins up with the events of the 1979 film.
In an interview with Fandango, Scott said that the film after Covenant would be called Alien: Awakening; moreover, he seems to imply that Awakening‘s events will actually take place before Covenant‘s:
“There will be another one before we kind of literally and logically, clockwise, back into the rear end of Alien,” Scott said. “It will go Prometheus, Awakening, Covenant.”
It’s possible that Scott was simply getting muddled up – Covenant star Katherine Waterson, who was in the room at the time, cut off further questioning with an urgent, “You’re giving away too much”. Then again, there’s also the chance that we’ll go back to LV-223, and find out exactly what happened to the Engineers that once inhabited it – and just where that greasy Deacon scuttled off to…