(Warning: Spoilers below if you haven't watched Alien: Covenant)
Beginning in 1979, the Alien film series has given us numerous sequels (with varying degrees of quality), a couple of spin-offs with fellow screen creature Predator, and, since 2012, that dreaded word, prequels.
Since its cinematic reboot five years ago, fans have been teased about how the future lies; this year's Alien: Covenant was the latest.
The man behind the franchise, Sir Ridley Scott, doesn't help the situation with his never-ending desire to change the number of Alien films he's making at any one point.
Initially, Prometheus was meant to launch a new sequence. But the film's mixed response meant that the subsequent Covenant was fired up to launch a new trilogy (rather than continue the projected Prometheus arc). Just this year, Scott claimed there could be up to six new movies: "I'm not going to close it down again. No way," the Oscar-winning filmmaker insisted.
But the disappointing box office for Alien: Covenant put a brake on such xenomorphic excess (it took in around $160 million less than Prometheus worldwide) and Ridley has had to reassess once again.
On the audio commentary for Covenant, Scott said the current line-up of films pre-1979 Alien is: Prometheus, then what he called "Covenant 1" and then "Covenant 2", which will bring audiences up to the first film, 1979's Alien. Triple Oscar nominee John Logan (Gladiator, The Aviator and Hugo) is on writing duties again after delivering Covenant, with filming reportedly set to begin around September 2018.
Of course, things can change. More so in the world of Alien (and we're not just referring to characters' personalities).
Alien franchise's future: What movies could be made?
This was, of course, part of the original plan but, due to the film's reputation of underperforming (though, in fact, it took over $400 million at the global box office and has a 73% rating on Rotten Tomatoes), Scott changed his tack.
Ridley has stated on numerous occasions that he wants to explore what happens when Caroline Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and synthetic assistant David (Michael Fassbender) travelled off at the end of Prometheus. The director has even stated there is a plan and he knows where it's going for this pair: "I know that to keep him alive is essential and to keep her alive is essential and to go where they came from, not where I came from, is essential."
Of course, we discovered in Alien: Covenant that Shaw and David did not survive together, but this doesn't stop potentially telling that story. A story which could include those "gardeners of space" (Ridley's words, not ours), the Engineers.
Speaking of which...
Alien: Covenant 2
The "beast has almost run out", proclaimed Scott earlier this year, referring to the actual alien itself, the Xenomorph. Meaning an Alien film without the actual, erm, alien.
Ridley is much more fascinated about AI and centring the film around David, who seems to have a very strange agenda (wiping out the Engineers, for example, and creating aliens). As seen at the end of Covenant, David was aboard the Weyland-Yutani colony ship with thousands of humans in cryo-sleep and a few alien embryos.
But a plot point the director is also interested in – and which has huge potential – is what happens when other Engineers find the "Paradise" planet devoid of their fellow species. And what happens when they exact revenge on David for his genocidal actions.
Scott told the Empire podcast: "I think the evolution of the alien himself is nearly over, but what I was trying to do was transcend and move to another story, which would be taken over by AIs. And the world that the AI might create as a leader if he finds himself on a new planet. We have actually quite a big layout for the next one."
Ridley has hinted that this may be the film that leads up to 1979's Alien.
Alien 5 / Alien: Awakening
Of all the options, this is the least likely.
This all kicked off in early 2015 when director Neill Blomkamp was announced to be bringing back Ripley for a fifth outing. Sigourney Weaver was on board and fans were most gratified when rumours strongly suggested that Alien³ and Alien Resurrection – while not abandoned – would not be referenced.
Blomkamp shared concept art on his Instagram feed and fans could not have been happier.
But within months of the director stating filming was set to begin in Canada, the project was put on hold until (what would be) Alien: Covenant was finished. By 2016, positive noises were still being made but, by January 2017, Blomkamp admitted there was "slim" chance the movie, which would finish Ripley's story, would be made.
As we saw, the least likely but, you know, Hollywood...
It's not been mentioned but, you know, Hollywood...
• Why did the Engineers start life on Earth (we'll make the assumption that's what happened) only to want to destroy us all?
• Similarly, why did David wipe out a planet of Engineers (as we learn in Covenant) and why murder Shaw?
• Why did one of the Engineers kill Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) at the end of Prometheus? Shits and giggles?
• The alien goo reacts in different ways depending on the situation. Oh, hold on, I think we just answered that one ourselves.
• What's the deal with the different aliens in Covenant (or xenomorphs)?
What needs to happen
At the very least, Alien fans deserve a couple of moments to link various films together and fill some gaps for completion.
The original film is set in the year 2122, when an Engineers ship is discovered by the crew of the Nostromo on the planet named LV-426. Oddly, Prometheus (which is set in 2093) could have provided the solution to this mystery with Prometheus's Shaw and David (Michael Fassbender) leaving the planet LV-223 on an Engineer spacecraft. They could simply have crashed there.
But, as we discovered in Alien: Covenant, this was not to be.
The couple travelled to "Paradise", a world full of Engineers. Well, it was until David wiped them all out (and also killed Shaw). This year's flick was set 18 years before the original that Ridley has promised the franchise will join.
So, we need to know just how an Engineer ship ended up on LV-426 and how David departs the series (unless he's been in hiding since and makes a shock reappearance in Alien 5).
It could be done in just one film, Ridley. So why not give it try?
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