- The Xenomorph in the Alien movie franchise is a perfect horror movie villain, but the franchise has declined with each subsequent film.
- The backstory of the Xenomorphs has been expanded upon in later films, eliminating some of the mystery.
- The 1986 film Aliens expanded upon the Xenomorphs as a species, giving them a Queen and more animalistic behavior, which contributed to the franchise's decline.
Alien (1979) shocked the world when it first arrived in cinema. Ridley Scott and H.R. Giger worked together to create a beautiful and perfect enemy for humanity, making an apex predator that humanity had no hope of defeating outright. The Xenomorph wasn’t the only thing that spawned out of the movie; however, as an entire franchise was born, with each passing movie, the franchise went further and further downhill. Is there any hope for saving the franchise? There is one crucial element that needs a fix if the Alien movie franchise is going to survive.
In many aspects, the Xenomorph is the perfect horror movie villain: a relentless force of nature that can’t be reasoned with. At the start of the Alien movie franchise, the motivations behind this ultimate killer are never fully explained, the creature seemingly killing every crew member of the Nostromo for the hell of it.
However, with each subsequent film in the franchise, the backstory of the Xenomorphs was expanded upon, eliminating some of the mystery behind this once enigmatic life form. To make matters worse, one of the most critically acclaimed movies in the franchise might also be responsible for the series’ decline.
There’s an eternal debate among Alien fans: there are those who prefer the first film’s overtly horror style, while some others are all aboard for James Cameron’s 1986 action film sequel. Aliens was loved by critics and audiences, but it’s undeniably one of the reasons why the franchise began its steady decline.
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For starters, it expanded upon the Xenomorphs as a species, giving them a Queen and more animalistic behaviour. The Alien we saw in the first movie was close to that film’s heroine in intellectual terms. In Aliens, the Xenomorphs are even called “bugs”, yet another jab at their archaic behaviour.
However, 1986’s Aliens isn’t the worst offender when it comes to demystifying the Alien. That honour goes to 2017’s Alien: Covenant.
The original 1979 Alien movie had a simple premise: it was a slasher film set in space. There was no higher meaning to be found in the actions of the killer alien life form and just a vague hint of a conspiracy being thrown in by one of the film’s characters.
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The latest Alien movies, Prometheus and Covenant, are seemingly ashamed to be called “slashers” by fans or film critics. The franchise has become a pseudo-intellectual rambling on the origins of humanity and its relationship with divinity. That’s… unexpected for a series about alien parasites that burst out of their victim’s chest.
Covenant also gave us some conflicting info about the origins of the Xenomorph species. The entire Xenomorph species was seemingly created by David, an android antagonist from the last two films. We see everything from his point of view, including the planning and creation of his ultimate life form. And just like that, the mystery of the Alien is no more.
It would be easy to say that there’s no way to fix the Alien movie franchise – that it was never meant to be a series in the first place. However, there’s one final glimmer of hope shining in the depths of space for this Xenomorph, and it comes in the form of branching from the film industry.
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If you’re craving a more traditional Alien experience, definitely give 2014’s phenomenal Alien: Isolation a try. It is the closest thing we’ll ever get to a proper sequel and an excellent reference for future filmmakers who wish to continue the Xenomorph’s horror legacy. Continuing in the form of video games has somewhat helped the franchise to stay afloat.
Branching further away from the film franchise, the Alien comics are still going strong and are a much better way of understanding the motivations of the Xenomorph while still respecting them for the apex predator that they are. Continuing the idea of serial format, FX is working on an Alien TV show that will hopefully revive the Alien franchise with it, but hopes aren’t high for a lot of fans.
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Do you think that the Alien video game and TV show can fix and save the Alien franchise?