Next up for the Alien and Predator franchises are a TV series led by Noah Hawley and a new film titled Prey respectively. Both stories appear to be breaking away from previous instalments and looking to expand their universes’ horizons. While all that sounds like a refreshing change of pace, there may be something worth recovering from the pasts of these two iconic space creatures. So, should Disney reboot Alien vs. Predator?
In 2004, Alien vs. Predator (AVP) marked Fox’s first (finished) attempt at recreating the crossover kickstarted by Dark Horse Comics in 1990. A number of filmmakers tried to get the project off the ground over the years, but only Paul W. S. Anderson managed to actually shoot the thing. Despite the critical failure (and slim financial success) it turned out to be, enough interest and profits were generated to greenlight a sequel – Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), which got hammered even harder and made the company a bit less money than its predecessor. And that’s where the on-screen crossover died, paving the way for a return to standalone Predator films and Ridley Scott’s Alien prequels. To save you some time, we’ve got a list of all the Alien movies, ranked worst to best.
It’s safe to predict Disney won’t let us forget about two of the biggest properties from the Fox portfolio. Dan Trachtenberg’s Prey was already in development before their takeover, and the Alien series appears to be only a little something to keep the xenomorph alive while the powers that be figure out what to do on the theatrical side of things. But what about Alien vs. Predator? Yes, the films were bad, but the premise has worked time and again in other pieces of media. Let us explain why an Alien vs. Predator reboot makes sense in the near future.
Disney likes shared universes
This is the obvious reason. Shared universes have become Hollywood’s biggest fad ever since Iron Man teased an Avengers film back in 2008. Of course, only the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Legendary’s MonsterVerse have truly found success doing that, but everyone in town wants a piece of the cake. Even Lucasfilm, also part of Disney, is looking to connect a fair amount of their upcoming Star Wars live-action series (which are already set in the same “canon” universe) by following Marvel’s formula.
Funnily enough, 2018’s The Predator almost set up a new Alien-Predator continuity of sorts – alternate endings that introduced Ripley and Newt hibernating inside a predator pod were considered… and even shot. And yeah, that’d also mean time travel becoming canon in the Predator universe, an idea that has been thrown around by fans for the longest time. At the end of the day those scenes were dropped, and instead we got an awful Iron-Predator suit that felt completely out of place. It wasn’t the first time a Predator-centric film teased a xenomorph connection though – 1990’s Predator 2 showed audiences an alien skull near the end just for fun.
Both franchises don’t need to drag back Sigourney Weaver nor Arnold Schwarzenegger to regain people’s interest. These creatures are famous enough on their own, and while I’m sure they’ll do fine separately, a long-term plan that slowly connected solo instalments and built towards a big-budget crossover, with interesting names attached to it, could be huge. Casual spectators need to reconnect first with separate Alien and Predator films, there’s no avoiding that, but diehard fans know about the crossover’s untapped potential, and that brings us to our next point…
The video games and comics are unexploited gold mines
As stated before, Dark Horse Comics brought aliens and predators together for the first time with a highly successful crossover event in 1990. From that point onwards, Aliens vs. Predator became one of the biggest titles of the company’s vast library. Beat ‘em up games for Nintendo consoles and arcades soon followed, and Rebellion Developments impressed players with an atmospheric first-person shooter in 1994 – this project turned out so well that Rebellion made another FPS Alien vs. Predator game in 1999 for PC, and it was a massive hit. The rest is history.
As technology evolved, so did these games’ storytelling and worldbuilding efforts. And the same was happening on the comic book side of things; at some point, Alien vs. Predator grew beyond the original franchises’ borders and became its own universe – this gave birth to several stories that came up with scenarios that had almost nothing to do with the films they were inspired by. In a way, the two AVP films that happened tried to replicate the off-beat nature of the source material, but budgetary issues and shoddy scripts prevented them from soaring high.
The “dark years” of 20th Century Fox in the mid-2000s doomed plenty of interesting projects, and AVP was a clear victim of the “quantity over quality” approach that made the legendary film studio highly unpopular for years. However, a number of cool ideas lifted straight from the comics and games shone through the cracks of the rushed productions. The modern-day Earth settings greatly limited the potential of the crossover, and it all came down to money. That presumably isn’t an issue under Disney’s wing, so maybe it’s time to unearth old comic books and scripts.
A new AVP film needs to go big and into the future
The AVP comics and video games have always been characterized by futuristic settings that drew directly from the Alien films, especially James Cameron’s Aliens. How do you make such an amazing versus even more explosive? Throw in a handful of Colonial Marines. Once you go through a few of the best AVP comic books and the remarkable FPS video games, it becomes clear that the perfect AVP film adaptation should feel like Aliens meets Predator, and not the other way around. All the “hard to crack” sci-fi elements are already there, ready to be used.
Peter Briggs’ 1991 Alien vs. Predator script is widely regarded by the fan community as an impressive first big-screen crack at the material, but it never got made. One could see why, as it went for the fences and stuck closely to Dark Horse’s first comic book run. Fox even commissioned further drafts, with Roland Emmerich attached to the project for a time, but “by all accounts the project had died out by 93/94.”
The whole story of AVP’s journey to the big screen is a fun read, but let’s just say we ended up getting one of the most uninteresting and half-baked versions of the first film that were considered. And it’s a shame, as both the first comic book and its main character, administrator-turned-hunter Machiko Noguchi, still hold up quite well. We fully expect future tentative efforts to start from scratch, but Briggs’ take on the original comic book run could easily be reworked into something filmable (and not that expensive by today’s standards).
In the end, we should prepare ourselves for plenty more Alien and Predator instalments, both on the big and small screen. Moreover, Disney-owned Marvel Comics has recently gained control of the IPs, so I’m sure the new comics will serve as tests of sorts. Let’s hope the Disney and 20th Century Studios overlords explore all possibilities and acknowledge the existence of a crossover that could easily capture general audiences’ attention.
If you want to catch up on the Alien franchise while you wait, check out our Alien streaming guide to see where you can watch the movies online.