The Future of Alien and/versus Predator
A few weeks back, a new trailer for The Predator launched. I can’t wait 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 also 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? And why does Predator 2 take place in 1997 despite being released in 1990? Questions for later. What I’d really like to know is why Robert Rodriquez wasn’t involved in The Predator, at least as executive producer along side original Predator and Predator 2 producer Lawerence Gordon (also known for producing Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy duology and Zack Snyder’s Watchmen), 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. I have nothing against Boyd Holbrook playing the lead. He was awesome as Donald Pierce 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 two of 20th Century Fox’s biggest franchises?
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 (on the big screen) was in the Christmas Day 2007 release 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 30% on Rotten Tomatoes respectively. But hey, at least it was rated R. No offence, Mr. Anderson, big fan of your work, but Alien and Predator have been rated R since the beginning. How can a guy who made R-rated films like Death Race, Resident Evil, and the sci-fi gore-fest Event Horizon fail to kill two birds with one stone? Or did 20th Century Fox think the first AvP was too expensive to be rated R and didn’t realize how much damage they would cause with a PG-13 rating? How much did Prometheus and Alien: Covenant cost again? Oh, the irony. After Requiem, Fox gave us one separate film each for both franchises. Predators, produced by Robert Rodriquez (known for writing/directing Spy Kids and Sin City) and directed by Nimrod Antal (known for writing/directing Metallica: Through The Never concert movie) 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 Rotten Tomatoes giving Predators 65% and 51% and Prometheus 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 ($240.9m to be exact against a $97m-$111m budget and only $79m came from the North American box office). Though Rotten Tomatoes critics gave it a 66% rating, the audience score is 56% as there were some things fans weren’t pleased with. It seemed like Scott was trying to juggle pleasing both Alien fans and Prometheus fans and apologizing to Prometheus haters. The end result felt more like a big-budget remake of the original 1979 masterpiece. Especially 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 it ultimately leads to what may be the film’s most socking twist. I just wish Fox released the film in 3D like they did for Prometheus. Despite the negative fan response to Alien: Covenant and the positive fan response to the concept art for District 9 director Neil Blomkamp’s 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. Why is that? It doesn’t make any sense.
Is it because Scott has more recent success compared to Blomkamp, who’s last film, Chappie (which Weaver co-starred in along side Startlo Colplay, Dev Patel and the Wolverine himself Hugh Jackman) was a critical and financial failure? Because 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 (which Alice Braga also co-starred in) and The Martian both star Matt Damon. Exodus and Chappie are both critically panned 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, just ask Jordan Peele), 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. So, do they see Blomkamp as a one-hit wonder? To be fair, Elysium and Chappie didn’t have any alien creatures in them. Just robots. Between District 9 and Blomkamp’s Oats Studios alien invasion short film Rakka (which Weaver also co-starred in), I think Blomkamp would excel at making an Alien film.
Or is it because last year’s Blade Runner 2049 flopped? A sequel to Scott’s 1984 cult classic neo-noir sic-fi masterpiece, Blade Runner. Critics and audiences loved 2049, me included, but I suppose with a running time of 2 hours and 44 minutes and being a sequel to a cult classic (which wasn’t a box office success either when it was first released), sometimes nostalgia isn’t enough and history repeats itself. Blomkamp’s Alien film concept was to be a direct sequel to Ridley Scott’s Alien and James Cameron’s Aliens disregarding the events from David Fincher’s Alien³ and Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Alien: Resurrection as canon. That alone sounds awesome. Most fans would wanna erase the last two films from their minds as it is (life since 1993 and 1997 respectively). Especially now, looking at the human/Alien hybrid “Newborn” 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 “Newborn” 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. Have any of you seen the flute scene from Covenant? Hell, even the first AvP had a scene where one of the characters compares a gun to a condom, “safer to have one and not need it than need one and not have one” (wink).
Staying on topic, Hollywood’s been retconning a lot of franchises recently. Universal did Jurassic World and is now doing a new Halloween film coming this October as a direct sequel to John Carpenter’s original slasher thriller of the same name ignoring the other films (including Halloween II, and good thing to, because the sibling plot twist is really what ruined the series). They attempted making The Legend of Conan, a retcon sequel to Conan The Barbarian, after its 2011 remake flopped, with Schwarzenegger reprising his role. Terminator 6 is gonna be a direct sequel to The Terminator and T2 ignoring Rise of The Machines, Salvation and Genisys (thank goodness), again with Schwarzenegger returning as usual (*cough* Salvation). So, the idea of making an Aliens retcon sequel wouldn’t have been farfetched. But it looks like Fox is moving ahead with Covenant 2, Awakening has been “repurposed” and Blomkamp has “moved on” and is in fact now directing a retcon sequel to another R-rated 80s sci-fi movie, RoboCop, entitled RoboCop Returns for MGM. WTF? Oh yea, just what we need. Another Blomkamp film with robots and no alien creatures. Still, we fans are still hopeful Fox (or Disney) will reconsider Blomkamp’s Aliens: Awakening (especially if RoboCop Returns is successful) with an active petition open for supporters of Awakening.
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 (two years after Cameron’s film) and the Predator comics in 1989 (two years after the Schwarzenegger film) under licence from Fox. The following year, comic book writers Chris Warner and Randy Stradley came up with the idea while brainstorming a intercompany crossover 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. 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 an Xenomorph. 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 possibility of a crossover years before it actually happened.
Set in the far-flung future set up in the Alien series, Stradley’s comic miniseries originated the idea of the Predators using semi-domesticated Aliens as part of their tribal, rite of passage hunt for young Predators; seeding worlds with Xeno eggs and then hunting the offspring. The Predators find one of their traditional hunting ground planets has been turned into a farming colony by humans, leading to the first conflict between all three species. True to the Alien films, Stradley had a single female survivor, but unlike the survivors in the Predator films, she gains the respect of the Predators and is given a place in their society (although Predators had Adrien Brody’s character Royce form an alliance with the “crucified” Predator at one point). Afterwords, Dark Horse published other comics such as Deadliest of the Species and Fire and Stone and a few non-cannoncil ones crossing over with other characters such as Aliens versus Predator versus The Terminator (and you thought Genisys was the worse thing that happened to the Terminator franchise), Superman and Batman versus Aliens and Predator (because life is a joke),and Overkill: Witchblade/Aliens/Darkness/Predator (haven’t read the Witchblade or Darkness comics so I wouldn’t know how to respond). Bantam Books published the novels, Prey written by Steve Perry and his son S.D., Hunter’s Planet written by David Bischoff, and War written by S.D. Capcom created a beat ’em up arcade game and Rebellion developed several video games published by Atari, Fox Interactive, Vivendi Games, and Sega. Aside from that, an actual crossover film never came into fruition until 2004, after well over a decade in development hell, and probably the reason Sigourney Weaver wanted to be (SPOILER ALERT!), surprise surprise, killed off at the end of Alien³. Predator franchise 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, the first one) and James DeMonaco (writer/director of The Purge movies and writer/producer of their prequel, The First Purge). The project was put on hold as the studio was producing Alien: Resurrection during that time.
Resident Evil writer/director Paul W.S. Anderson pitched Davis his story, which 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 character Alexa “Lex” Woods, who may not be equivalent to Ripley but is 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 co-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 specialists and Hydraulic founders The Brothers Strause, Colin and Greg (infamous for directing/producing the 2010 alien invasion film Skyline), making their directorial debut. 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, SPOILER ALERT, 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/arrogance of bringing Fox’s two iconic movie alien creatures down to Earth in a storyline you’d see in a traditional alien invasion/horror movie which doesn’t exactly 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 (they actually showed blood for more than a few seconds and they had a child go through that pain, something the Alien films never did before) and I loved the smack down at the end between the Predator and the “Predalien”. But that’s about it. The “Predalien” was creative, but I wish they could’ve had more hybrids (there was a dog in the movie, why didn’t they bring back the “Runner” for Alien³ ?). I wish we could hear the classic Alien and Predator sound effects in the same movie. Anderson’s film had the classic Predator roar but the Alien sound effects were basically pig squeals. The Strause Brothers’ film had the classic Alien screeches but the Predators made different sounding roars. Anyway, Requiem was horrific and the world never saw another Xenomorph on the big screen again until Alien: Covenant ten years later (Prometheus doesn’t count because that purple Alien thing “Deacon” at the end wasn’t exactly an Xenomorph).
The first time I heard of Alien or Predator was when I saw a short preview for Anderson’s Alien vs. Predator on a DVD copy of The Day After Tomorrow. I was intrigued. The first actual glimpse of the movie I got was sometime at my cousin’s house, he was watching the climax where Lex and the Predator fight the Alien Queen. I bought a DVD copy of the movie sometime between 2006 and 2008. I still enjoy it today, but back then I enjoyed it more than I do now. Mainly because I saw AvP before I saw Alien or Predator. My mom didn’t want me watching a lot of R-rated films because I was a bit too young to be exposed to it. So, I didn’t watch any Alien or Predator films for a while until sometime after AvP-R came out. I couldn’t see Requiem in theatres because of it’s rating. The first R-rated film I almost saw in a movie theatre was Jurassic Park III director Joe Johnston’s 2010 remake of The Wolfman starring Benicio del Toro (who was originally cast as the lead in The Predator before dropping out due to scheduling and was replaced by Holbrook), Anthony Hopkins, Emily Blunt and Hugo Weaving. It was so loud and gory, I couldn’t stay. Actually, before that, I saw District 9 (but of course, I saw that in a Drive-In with my family, and we missed some of the beginning). The first R-rated film I sat through in theatres from beginning to end I think was 21 Jump Street (with a friend), then I saw Prometheus (by myself). In my opinion, the PG-13-rated AvP can be somewhat of a stepping stone for kids first entering their early teens to prepare them for what’s in store for them. Then again, it may ruin the experience of seeing the first Alien and Predator films. It’s not that I prefer Alien vs Predator over Alien or Predator, it’s just I’m a sucker for creature-on-creature violence. Predators had some in it, marking the first time two Predators have fought each other on screen. Prometheus had a brief one. I wish Covenant had the Xenomorph fight one of the “Neomorphs”. Further more, if/when Disney buys Fox, the first AvP will probably be the only Alien or Predator film on Disney’s upcoming streaming service as it won’t stream any R-rated films.
Prometheus and Alien: Covenant may disregard the AvP films as canon (Covenant being the final nail in the coffin), 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, an Xenomorph jawbone is moulded to the bottom half of the helmet of the “Berserker” Predator. So, either Robert Rodriquez was doing the same thing Predator 2 did as a joke reference, or he and/or Fox were/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. Not only that, but a Hybrid Network video confirmed that The Predator underwent reshoots where Lex’s spear from the first AvP will be seen in The Predator on display in the “lab” at some point along side the spear belonging to the LA Predator from Predator 2. Is Shane Black open to an AvP 3? Will The Predator feature other 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, Fox and Ridley Scott are 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, setting and timeline (why they would do that instead of giving the fans the sequel they’ve always wanted since Aliens and reconsider Neil Blomkamp’s retcon sequel 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. Summation, don’t expect Fox to develop an AvP Cinematic Universe anytime soon.
If a new AvP movie were to be made, I’d hope either Sandy Collora (writer/director of the fan-made short film Batman: Dead End) makes his feature film debut with AvP 3, StudioADI founders Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff Jr. (creature effects specialists behind Alien³, Alien: Resurrection, AvP, AvP-R, and The Predator) make their directorial debut with AvP 3, David Twothy (co-screenwriter and director of Pitch Black and writer/director of it’s sequels, The Chronicles of Riddick, Riddick and the yet-to-be-made Furya, who also wrote earlier un-produced screenplay drafts for Alien³) (co-)writes and directs AvP 3 or Paul Anderson returns to direct and co-write. Yea yea, I know what you’re thinking, but hey, 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 Riddick are proven to be more than just regular Vin Diesel flicks. Speaking of whom, Diesel is one of four actors I’d like to see play the lead role in a Predator movie. The other three being James Franco (if the late Bill Paxton can co-star in Predator 2 having already co-starred in Aliens then I’m sure Franco can play the “cameo” in Alien: Covenant and actually lend his acting talents to a Predator 5), 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 starred in another one of Twothy’s films, A Perfect Getaway, along side Anderson’s wife, Milla Jovovich).
A big question on my mind, if/when Disney buys 21st Century Fox, will Marvel Comics replace Dark Horse Comics as the publisher of the Aliens, Predator and AvP comics? Dark Horse Comics published the Star Wars comics between 1991 and 2014. When Disney bought Lucasfilm, Marvel (who originally published the Star Wars comics between 1977 and 1987) 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. I can see Predator and/or Aliens fighting X-Men, X-Force, or even the Avengers. Predator fighting Iron Man, War Machine, Cable, The New Mutants, Black Panther, Blade, Skaar (son of Hulk), Luke Cage, the Defenders, the Dark Avengers, Spider-Man Noir, or the Punisher. Aliens fighting Captain Marvel (Carol Danvers and/or Genis-Vell), the Guardians of the Galaxy, Fantastic Four, or Spider-Man 2099 and/or Spider-Man with Venom and Carnage. Two I think Alien and Predator should definitely fight are Wolverine and Deadpool. Marvel could do that today if they want to but to do so they’d have to partner with Dark Horse just as DC Comics has between 1991 and 2007 for Batman vs. Predator, Superman vs. Predator, Batman/Aliens, Superman/Aliens, Green Lantern Versus Aliens, and the last as I mentioned before Superman and Batman versus Aliens and Predator. There was even a JLA vs. Predator. Hell, I’m surprised there isn’t Deathstroke Versus Predator, Deathstroke/Aliens, or Suicide Squad vs Predator (want one?). Fox owns the film rights to X-Men, so I imagine Fox has the power to have them fight in movie form (but that’d honestly be stupid). Although, I can see Deadpool doing fake movie trailers for Deadpool/Aliens, Deadpool vs Predator, Deadpool and Cable vs Aliens and Predator or Deadpool: Dead End. Until Disney buys Fox, an intercompany crossover is the only way Aliens and Predator could fight any Marvel characters in comic book form. 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. Then again, IDW Publishing is…publishing a Star Wars Adventures anthology comic series at the same time as Marvel publishing their comic series. Perhaps AvP could remain at Dark Horse (under licence from Fox or sub-licence from Marvel) and Marvel could publish Aliens and Predator as separate comics. Or Marvel and Dark Horse could co-publish AvP comics together. What do you guys think? What Marvel character would you like to see face-off against Alien or Predator?
Will AvP see the light of day outside of comic books and video games? Will the Disney-Fox merger have any affect on it? Will Predators get ever get a follow-up? Will Neil Blomkamp ever get a second chance? Will the Alien series get a “soft reboot”, and if so, will it take place within the same continuity as the Predator series and the AvP films? Will there ever be an AvP Cinematic Universe? What’s next for Alien and/versus Predator?