There’s really no decent reason or excuse as to why, in the age of the Hollywood cinematic universes, fans of the Alien franchise don’t have an ACU (or Alien Cinematic Universe) to call our own. If the rumor mill is to be believed, the blame may lie at the feet of Ridley Scott and his supposed decree that no one else play in the Alien sandbox until he’s done with it. No matter who’s to blame, it’s a glaring miscalculation in regards to a series that’s already connected to the Predator film series through Paul W.S. Anderson’s forgettable AvP: Alien vs. Predator picture. Much like LucasFilm’s decision with Star Wars to clean up the cannon and mine the franchise’s extended universe for diamonds in the rough, Twentieth Century Fox could be building an interstellar epic story of horror and sci-fi brilliance with some of the best creative talent available.
With that in mind, as an official representative of Fanbase Press, here is our best attempt to assemble the kind of awesome and amazing Alien Cinematic Universe we believe the fandom deserves. In the spirit of those old “fan casting” articles from Wizard magazine (RIP) in which the staff and contributors chose the best actors for a comic book film they wished was happening, below is a detailed breakdown of “Phase One” of the ACU, as well as some concepts left over for “Phase Two” and “Phase Three.” Just to be clear, the director, actors, and concepts below are only one potential option for the road ahead and, whether you agree or disagree with our choices, the purpose of this editorial is not to deter alternative thoughts, but illustrate the vast potential within a concept like the ACU.
The Alien Cinematic Universe (ACU) Phase One
Untitled Alien Film – Written by Alex Garland and Directed by Danny Boyle
The team behind both the gritty, brutal, and terrifying 28 Days Later and the gorgeous, intelligent, and cerebral film, Sunshine, would be the perfect choice to lead off the first step in an Alien cinematic universe. Not only would they be able to bring the necessary mix of beautiful and horrifying, but this team’s past work has proven them as talented storytellers, unafraid of science fiction with a harder edge and complete awareness of the necessity of character development and human drama. They bring everything longtime fans could want for an Alien film and are bold and experienced enough to push the franchise in ways that will be necessary for it to evolve and survive. A number of plots could serve for this first film, but the goal should be like that of Star Wars: The Force Awakens: to deliver a solid film that resurrects the franchise and charges the fanbase for what’s to come. I imagine Garland and Boyle would have their own incredible plot details in mind, but if they were looking for ideas, I’d advise turning to Dark Horse Comics’ stellar licensed comics.
Colonial Marines – Directed by Kathryn Bigelow
After establishing the existence of the Alien Cinematic Universe, it’s going to be key to show audiences its versatility when it comes to the type of stories that can be told within. I can’t think of better move than a completely xenomorph-less Kathryn Bigelow film focused on the colonial marines. With hits like The Hurt Locker and Zero Dark Thirty under her belt, Bigelow’s take on a taut military action thriller set in space is something fans would be lucky to have the chance to lay their eyes on.
We’d be wise to use the EU as a resource for concepts to include and reimagine, much like Disney has been doing with the Star Wars franchise, so, to add to the appeal of our Colonial Marines film, I suggest pulling the concept of Private Carmen Vazquez from Dark Horse’s Aliens: Colonial Marines comic series. Carmen is the little sister of the Vasquez we all know and love from James Cameron’s Aliens. In the comics, Carmen may share her older sister’s attitude and brashness, but she’s also incredibly vulnerable and fragile in her own ways, struggling to live up to the legend of her badass sister and plagued with her own PTSD-like issues after seeing action.
Most likely, this film would follow a platoon of marines in some fashion and would, hence, feature an ensemble cast, but either way, it would serve the connected feel of the ACU if one of those marines had a parent or relative who was a cast member in Garland and Boyle’s previous Alien film. If Bigelow was asking my opinion, I’d suggest Michael B. Jordan or Tessa Thompson.
A mention or short explanation of this subtle connection would be the one bit of xenomorph-related material in this xenomorph-less film – a rule that must be maintained to allow us to demonstrate to audiences that the universe can support other stories beyond xenomorph-focused films (although, we’ll still have plenty of those, too).
Predator: Bad Blood – Directed by Ryan Coogler
Taking a page out of Marvel Studios’ playbook, we’re going to appropriate the title and some of the concepts of Dark Horse’s Predator: Bad Blood comic (written by Evan Dorkin and illustrated by Derek Thompson) and jettison the rest. Keeping the comic book’s concept of a battle between a honorless, rogue predator and the predator bounty hunter sent to end his life, this will be the first Predator film set in the future (say, 2183 or four years after the events in Aliens) and pitting our alien hunters against some frosty Colonial Marines. While the main spectacle of this movie will be the Predator vs. Predator death match, having the marine squad from Bigelow’s Colonial Marines caught in the middle will be the perfect cherry on top.
If Bigelow did take my advice, here’s also where casting Thompson or Jordan would pay off, as both have delivered top-notch work when teamed with Coogler before in Creed. Given the graceful character work, worldbuilding, and primal and exhilarating combat in both Creed and Black Panther, Coogler seems like a sure thing when it comes to making a Predator film with real teeth and real intelligence.
Untitled Android Film – Written by Jonathan Nolan and Directed by Ridley Scott
Unless the decision is made to wipe Prometheus and Alien: Covenant from canon, then Scott deserves one last film to wrap up his tale of the twisted and humanity hating android, David (played by Michael Fassbender). With the help of Westworld‘s Nolan, Scott should be able to bring his trilogy to a stunning and epic conclusion. Here’s hoping he brings Guy Pearce back for some more brilliant “Sir Peter Weyland & David” flashbacks.
Aliens vs. Predator – Directed by George Miller
In year three, it will be time for the ACU to tackle an Avengers-like event film, and what better way than an Aliens vs. Predator reboot that would do the classic comic book proud? Following the comic book roots, this new version of Aliens vs. Predator would take place on the recently colonized planet of Ryushi, which, unbeknownst to the human colonists, is also ground zero for a predator ritual of tradition that involves breeding a select number of xenomorphs every few years and hunting them as a clan initiation rite. When the unanticipated humans cause the xenomorph population to explode, it becomes open season for the hunters.
While choosing a director for a film like this is difficult, after much thought, Mad Max: Fury Road‘s George Miller seems like the best option. Not only is he fantastic with epic visuals, pulse-pounding and hard-hitting action sequences, and embracing an R-rating, but, as Fury Road proved, he has no issue putting a tough-as-nails female badass in the lead role. These skills will be necessary given our lead hero is Machiko Noguchi, a Japanese woman who climbed the cut-throat corporate ladder in the Chigusa Cooptation and is scheduled to take over the colony on Ryushi as its new administrator when the predator/xenomorph conflict overwhelms the planet. The by-the-book leader is forced to find the warrior within in order to save those she is in charge of, as well as herself. Eventually, she finds herself aligned with a predator herself and, after a bloody, vicious conflict, she is even accepted into the predator clan as a hunter herself – an offer she takes at the end of the story.
With a director of Miller’s skill and quality, Aliens vs. Predator will silence the naysayers and leave audiences eagerly speculating what adventures and unknown dangers Machiko will find during her travels with her new clan.
Phase Two and Three Concepts
While the below concepts aren’t as fleshed out, these proposed films will give fans an inkling of what plans lie beyond “Phase One” of ACU and forecast what excitement is in store! Obviously, if the was a plan for a legitimate cinematic universe, we wouldn’t want to plan too concretely into the next phases, as there must always be room to adapt and evolve as we go (kind of like the perfect organism).
Aliens: Newt’s Tale – Written & Directed by John Krasinski
After the success of A Quiet Place, Karsinski seems like a great choice to take on the ACU’s answer to Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Aliens: Newt’s Tale is a prequel to Cameron’s Aliens and tells the story of the final days of the colony on LV-426 and how Rebecca “Newt” Jorden survived in the xenomorph-infested colony after the death of her family and every other colonist living in the facility.
Untitled Auton Film – Written and Directed by The Wachowskis
In Alien: Resurrection, the android Call (played by Winona Ryder) tells the history of the Autons, second generation synthetics that were built by other synthetics. They were supposed to revolutionize the synthetic industry, but when the Autons rebelled, it was actually the end of the synthetic business. The story of the android revolution that sunk the industry would be right up the Wachowskis’ alley.
Alien: Origins – Directed by Denis Villeneuve
A story of self-discovery, this feature would give Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley 8 some actual closure and give the iconic actor a chance for a final, glorious appearance in the Alien franchise. Featuring the half-human/half-xenomorph’s travel to xenomorph homeworld, Villeneuve would give us an epic, cerebral film that would honor the franchise as a whole, examine one’s purpose in the universe, and ask what it truly is to be human or alien…
Bonus points if we get a final confrontation between Ripley 8 and Fassbender’s David, tying the entire franchise together.
Aliens vs Predator: Deadliest of Species – Directed by Guillermo del Toro
In the Aliens vs. Predator sequel, Blade 2‘s Del Toro will take us deeper into the primal and beastly predator culture than we have ever been, following Machiko’s struggles integrating into the clan. We’ll also follow Machiko as she joins the clan’s attempts to capture and extract a live Queen Alien from within an active xenomorph hive, easily one of the most daring and breathtaking action sequences in either of the franchises!
Aliens: Genocide – Written and Directed by James Gunn
Playing off the events in Aliens vs. Predator: Deadliest of Species, Aliens: Genocide will loosely be based on the comic of the same name. With the hive’s Queen gone, the xenomorphs will divide into warring factions, backing two separate fledgling alien Queens who demand that the ranks battle to the death until there remains only one winning side. Also featuring corporate competition, the superhuman effects of the xenomorph-produced drug known as Xeno-Zip, as well as a xenomorph holding a saxophone, this weird, bloody, over-the-top tale is the perfect James Gunn Alien film.
Untitled Predators Sequel – Directed by Robert Rodriguez
Probably the film set earliest in the timeline, this would give Rodriguez a chance to continue the story of Royce (played by Adrien Brody) and Isabelle (played by Alice Braga) who were stranded on an alien planet serving as a predator game preserve in 2010’s Predators film. In addition to tying up the loose threads left by that film, the game reserve planet would potentially be a great setting for the third Aliens vs. Predator film, Aliens vs. Predator: War.
Aliens vs. Predator: War
The third Aliens vs. Predator film sees Machiko’s relationship with the predator clan strained as they begin to hunt fellow humans in her presence. Conflicted and at odds with herself, Machiko is eventually forced to turn on those who accepted her into their world or come to terms with the loss of human life inherent in her current lifestyle.
Aliens: Labyrinth – Directed by Darren Aronofsky
Because the idea of an Aronofsky Alien film is almost too cool to handle and adapting the dark, twisted murder mystery taking place on an isolated xenomorph research facility seems like a match made in heaven for this director.