Future of Alien V Predator
A few weeks back, a new trailer for The Predator launched. I can’t to find out what happened to Royce and Isabelle (played by Adrien Brody and Alice Braga) after 2010’s Predators. I’ve been waiting 8 years… wait, what? The Predator takes place in between Predator 2 and Predators? According to director Shane Black (known for directing and co-writng Iron Man 3 and directing/writing The Nice Guys, who ironically played in a supporting role in the first Predator, the Arnold Schwarzenegger one), “The events of Predators, the Robert Rodriquez one, have not happened yet and Predator 2 has probably happened already. It’s present day, it’s 2018. It’s a reimaging for 2018 of The Predator but all the events of the other movies are sort of acknowledged.” So Predators doesn’t take place in 2010? Questions for later. What I’d really like to know is why Robert Rodriquez wasn’t involved in The Predator and why James Franco chose that “cameo” in last year’s Alien: Covenant over the lead role in The Predator. Don’t get me wrong. Boyd Holbrook was awesome in last year’s R-rated X-Men Wolverine spin-off Logan. But seeing Alien: Covenant kind of makes me think Franco’s potential as an actor in an Alien or Predator film is waisted. Among other questions, will Alien and Predator face-off on the big screen again? Will Marvel replace Dark Horse as the publisher of the AvP comics, if/when Disney buys Fox? What does the future hold for both franchises?
Moving forward, Fox has really been keen on keeping Alien and Predator apart the past eleven years. The last time we saw them go head-to-head was in 2007’s AvP-R: Aliens vs Predator – Requiem. Though it made $129m against a $40m budget, surprise surprise, critics and audiences didn’t take to it well, giving it 11% and 37% on Rotten Tomatoes respectively. But hey, at least it was rated R. No offence, Paul, but how can a guy who made R-rated films like Death Race, Event Horizon and Resident Evil fail to make an R-rated Alien or Predator movie let alone kill two birds with one stone (the stone being a crossover)? Or did 20th Century Fox think the first AvP was too expensive to be rated R and wanted to see how much damage they could cause with a PG-13 rating? How much did Prometheus and Alien: Covenant cost? Oh, the irony. After that, Fox gave us one separate film each for both franchises. Predators produced by Spy Kids and Sin City director Robert Rodriquez and directed by Nimrod Antal in 2010 and the Alien prequel Prometheus produced and directed by original Alien director himself Ridley Scott in 2012. Both are pretty decent films. Critics and audiences took to them well with Predators getting 65% and 51% and Prometheus getting 73% and 65%. Predators made $127.2m against a budget of $40m (same as AvP-R). Prometheus made $403m against a $120-130m budget. Been five years since. There’s been no news on a follow-up to Predators, but Scott followed up Prometheus with last year’s Alien: Covenant. It failed to out gross Prometheus worldwide, making only half of what Prometheus made. There were some things fans weren’t pleased with. It seemed like Scott was trying to please both Alien fans and Prometheus fans and apologias to Prometheus haters. The end result felt more like a remake of the first Alien. Referring to the climax of course. I myself didn’t mind it. Micheal Fassbender is terrific as both David and Walter. David’s character arc is expanded and ultimately leads to what may be the film’s most socking twist. I just wish Fox released the film in 3D. Despite negative fan response to Covenant and positive fan response to District 9 director Neil Blomkamp’s concept art for his proposed retcon sequel to James Cameron’s Aliens titled Aliens: Awakening, which would’ve seen the return of Sigourney Weaver as Lt. Ellen Ripley, Fox would rather continue with Ridley Scott’s prequel trilogy than bring back Ripley. Oh, so now they don’t want to bring back Ripley. It doesn’t make any sense. Why is that?
Is it because Scott has more recent success compared to Blomkamp, who’s last film, Chappie (which Weaver co-starred in along side Dev Patel and Wolverine himself Hugh Jackman) was a critical and financial failure? Scott had his fair share: Exodus: Gods and Kings (starring Christian Bale, Joel Egerton, and Weaver). However, Scott redeemed himself with the Oscar-nominated The Martian. Granted, District 9 and The Martian both got Oscar nominations for Best Picture. Elysium and The Martian both star Matt Damon. Exodus and Chappie are both box office flops starring Sigourney Weaver. But studios tend to focus on recent success I suppose. Also, even though District 9 was Blomkamp’s directorial debut (and that’s something when a filmmaker’s first feature film gets an Oscar nomination for Best Picture), that’s almost nothing compared to the two Best Picture-nominated films Scott has under his belt (the other being Gladiator). Aside from Oscars, Blomkamp’s other two films, Elysium and Chappie, though critics and audiences didn’t entirely hate the former, failed to live up to the expectations of District 9 fans. They didn’t even have alien creatures in them. Between District 9 and Blomkamp’s Oats Studios short film Rakka, I think he would excel at making an Alien film.
Or is it because last year’s Blade Runner 2049 flopped? A sequel to another one of Scott’s sic-fi masterpieces. Critics and audiences loved it, me included, but sometimes nostalgia isn’t enough. Blomkamp’s Alien film concept was to be a direct sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens ignoring the events from David Fincher’s Alien3 and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection. That alone sounds awesome. Most fans would wanna erase the last two films from their minds as it is. Especially now, looking at the human/Alien hybrid in Resurrection and the Engineers in Prometheus and Covenant seems very confusing. Humans and Xenomorphs (the name the humans have for the Aliens) both descended from the Engineers. You might say the human/Alien hybrid from Resurrection is a metaphor for incest…I’m sorry, but the first Alien was chalked full of sexually symbolism (just watch this), so forgive me if this thought entered my head let alone passed my lips. Hell, even the first AvP had a scene where one of the characters says a gun is like a condom, “safer to have one and not need it than need one and not have one” (wink). Anyway, it looks like Fox is moving ahead with Covenant 2, Awakening’s been “repurposed” and Blomkamp’s “moved on”. Still, we fans are still hopeful Fox (or Disney) will reconsider Blomkamp’s Aliens: Awakening with an active petition open for supporters.
The concept of AvP dates back to the late 1980s Dark Horse Comic (known for publishing Frank Miller’s Sin City and 300, and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy) published the Aliens comics in 1988 and the Predator comics in 1989 under licence from Fox. The following year, after comic book writers Chris Warner and Randy Stradley came up with the idea while thinking of a co-publishing team-up with DC Comics, noting Alien and Predator are both Fox properties, Dark Horse first combined the two in issue #36 of Dark Horse Presents, and then launched the four-issue Aliens versus Predator miniseries, written by Stradley and Warner and illustrated by Phil Norwood, thus sparking the flames. At the climax of Predator 2 fanned said flames. When Danny Glover’s character Lieutenant Michael “Mike” R. Harrigan snuck aboard the Predator’s ship and examined the wall of skull trophies, among them was the head of one of the Xenomorphs. Similar to when Freddy Krueger’s gloved hand was seen at the end of Jason Goes To Hell a few years later, it was to tease the possible crossover years before it actually happened. Bantam Books published the novels, Prey, Hunter’s Planet, and War written by Steve Perry and his son S.D. and David Bischoff, Capcom created an arcade game and Rebellion developed several games published by Atari, Fox Interactive, Vivendi Games, and Sega, but the film never came into fruition until 2004, well over a decade in development hell, and probably the reason Sigourney Weaver wanted to be (SPOILER ALERT!) killed off at the end of Alien³. Predator producer John Davis, who wanted the setting to be on Earth in the present instead of in space in the future, secured the rights, with drafts written by screenwriters such as Peter Briggs (co-writer of Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy) and James DeMonaco (writer-director of The Purge). The project was put on hold as the studio was producing Alien: Resurrection during that time.
Resident Evil director Paul W.S. Anderson pitched Davis his story he’s been working on for 8 years. A mix between the rite of passage hunts from the original comics, somewhat forced Erich von Daniken “ancient aliens” theories and the influence of Aztec mythology. Though non-canon with the Alien series as confirmed by Ridley himself, like Prometheus, it features an alien-made pyramid, only instead of the Engineers, the humanoids who built them and were worshiped as gods by the humans were the Predators. They stocked the pyramid with a cryogenically frozen Alien queen and investigating humans get caught in the middle as the Predators begin the hunt. The film is incredibly creative but it’s not without it’s flaws. Lack of gore, cardboard characters (with the exception of Sanaa Lathan’s Alexa “Lex” Woods, who may not be equivalent to Ripley but she’s no less an interesting badass character), lighting, fast-paced fight scene editing, the majority of the dialogue (although in some scenes featuring Lex felt like dialogue you’d hear in an actual Alien movie) and, again a PG-13 rating lead to Rotten Tomatoes giving the film a 20% critics score and a 39% audience score. It earned $172m at the box office against a $60m budget thanks to a positive reaction from James Cameron himself saying, “it was actually pretty good. I think of the five Alien films, I’d rate it third. I actually liked it. I actually liked it a lot.” It was enough to warrant a sequel: AvP-R, as I mentioned before. Anderson sadly didn’t return as writer and director because of his commitments to Death Race. Instead, Shane Salerno (co-screenwriter of Oliver Stone’s Savages and James Cameron’s yet-to-be-made Avatar 4, who also did uncredited rewrites to the first AvP) wrote the sequel himself with VFX specialist Colin and Gregg Strause (infamous for directing the 2010 alien invasion film Skyline) directing. The hybrid seen at the end of the first AvP, referred to as a “Predalien,” along with a bunch of Facehuggers crash land in a populated small town area of modern day Earth (something the previous film purposely avoided to avoid contradicting the events in the Alien Series, so as to keep the proceedings to a relatively “alien” part of Earth: Antartica). A lone Predator comes to Earth to try and destroy the Aliens, the “Predalien” and all evidence of both before they could be too-widely discovered by humanity, but of course the film’s cast of characters are obviously well aware that their town is being over run by creatures from outer space (I mean, in one scene the Predator skinned a man alive right after disposing of the corpses of two Chestburster victims. The Predators may need to rethink their methods a bit more). Easily the worst in either franchise, Requiem has the ambition of bringing Fox’s two iconic movie alien creatures down to Earth in a traditional alien invasion/horror movie plotline that doesn’t even serve either of them particularly well. The characters in this one make the character’s in Anderson’s film look less bland by comparison. I wish they brought back Sanna Lathan. Never mind the characters, the entire film makes the last one look flawless. Seriously, if you thought the lighting in Anderson’s film was bad, at least we actually saw the Aliens and Predators fight each other. In the Strause Brothers’ film, I couldn’t see shit. Especially during the night scenes. This is the only Alien film where the Facehuggers look fake. The Chestbursters don’t look fake like they did in the last one and I loved the smack down at the end between the Predator and the Predalien. But that’s about it. Anyway, Requiem was horrific and we didn’t see another Xenomorph on the big screen until Alien: Covenant ten years later (Prometheus doesn’t count because that purple Alien thing at the end wasn’t an Xenomorph).
Prometheus and Alien: Covenant may ignore the AvP films, but the post-Requiem Predator films still acknowledge them. In Predators, the group of humans invade the camp and we get a brief view of an Xenomorph skull on the ground. In fact, the lower jaw of an Xenomorph is moulded to the bottom of the helmet of the Berserker Predator. So, Robert Rodriquez was open to the possibility of another AvP movie.
Recently, The Predator co-star Keegan-Michael Key said the new film “lives in the universe of the five films that were made.” We know what three of those five are. I presume that the other two are AvP and AvP-R. Is Shane Black open to an AvP 3? Will The Predator feature references to the Alien franchise? According to a brief synopsis of the plot, the Predators “genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species.” So, will the “Predalien” cameo or be referenced in The Predator? We may have to wait and see when The Predator comes out in theatres this year on September 14th. As for another crossover film, Ridley Scott is pretty keen on keeping them apart. So we’ll just have to wait until after Covenant 2, after which, Fox talked about, God forbid, a “soft reboot” with new characters and timeline (why they would do that instead of Neil Blomkamp’s Alien film is beyond me). Perhaps that’ll be more fit for an AvP movie. Universal waited until after Alfred Hitchcock kicked the bucket to produce sequels to Psycho. How many years does Scott have left? Not that I want that to happen or anything. I don’t. He’s a fantastic filmmaker. One of the greats.
If a new AvP movie were to be made, I’d hope either David Twothy, co-screenwriter and director of Pitch Black and writer/director of it’s sequels The Chronicles of Riddick and Riddick and also wrote earlier screenplay drafts for Alien 3, (co-)writes and directs it or Paul Anderson returns to direct and co-write. Hey, I know what you’re thinking, but if James Mangold can make a PG13-rated Wolverine movie and the R-rated Logan, then I’m sure Anderson can deliver an R-rated AvP if he sets his mind to it. As for Twothy, Pitch Black and Riddck are proven to be more than just regular Vin Diesel flicks. Speaking of whom, Diesel is one of three actors I’d like to see in the lead role in a Predator movie. The other two being Kit Harington (who starred in another one of Anderson’s films, Pompeii), who’s Game of Thrones co-star Alfie Allen is playing a supporting role in The Predator, and Timothy Olyphant (who worked with Twothy on A Perfect Getaway).
A big question on my mind, if/when Disney buys 21st Century Fox, will Marvel replace Dark Horse Comics as the publisher of the Aliens, Predator and AvP comic? Dark Horse Comics published the Star Wars comic at one point. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, Marvel took over. Will the same outcome happen if Disney buys Fox? Granted, there is potential with Marvel in the picture. A few non-canonical comics can be done. Predator fighting Wolverine, Iron Man, Black Panther, Blade or even Deadpool (I’d laugh if they actually did that). Aliens fighting Captain Marvel, the Guardians of the Galaxy, Spider-Man 2099 or even Carnage. That said, it’d be sad for Dark Horse to give AvP away to Marvel, considering it’s their biggest cash cow. Not only that, but AvP was Dark Horse’s idea to begin with. Perhaps AvP could remain at Dark Horse (or Marvel and Dark Horse co-publish them together) and Marvel could publish Aliens and Predator as separate comics. What do you guys think?
Wil AvP see the light of day outside of comic books and video games? What’s next for Alien and Predator?