Alien Won’t Pull a Franchise Backpedal a la Superman and Highlander (Updated)

By  · Published on February 26th, 2015

Twentieth Century Fox

Update: Neill Blomkamp has clarified his statements about his Alien movie in an interview with Allocine (via The Film Stage): “I want to make a film that’s connected to Alien and Aliens. That’s my goal. I’m not trying to undo Alien³ or Alien Resurrection, I just want it to be connected to Alien 1 and 2.”

Our original post:

There needs to be a uniform term for a franchise retcon. It could just be that, but we need something fresh and snappy if it becomes more of a trend. The concept is worthy of deeper consideration because of how it relates to reboots and franchise resurrections in general. It’s almost an anti-reboot. It’s a boot-and-rally, throwing up unwanted material to make room for more.

The latest property to backpedal in such a way is the Alien series. While Neill Blomkamp’s new movie, Chappie, is out in theaters next week, everyone just wants to know more about his installment in the franchise that has previously been helmed by Ridley Scott, James Cameron, David Fincher and Jean-Pierre Jeunet. And the most recent news is that Fincher and Jeunet’s sequels might be up-chucked out the window.

It all seems to be implied from comments in an interview with Sky News no longer available online. Reportedly Blomkamp and Chappie and Alien franchise star Sigourney Weaver are promoting the idea of his Alien movie being a direct sequel to Cameron’s Aliens that will give Ellen Ripley “a proper ending.” Does that truly mean it’ll be like how Superman Returns made like Superman III and IV never happened and how Highlander eliminated all the poison of The Quickening from its body with part III? And if Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection are no longer canon, do we then get Hicks and Newt back?

This surprises me, as I’ve assumed Blomkamp’s tone for an Alien movie would be most like Resurrection. A little goofy, feature some of his regular collaborators as bounty hunters – because the duo from Die Antwoord and Sharlto Copley are great equivalents of Dominique Pinon and Ron Perlman. Also, Blomkamp isn’t any better a director than Jeunet, regardless of the quality of the as-yet-nonexistent script and his better grasp of English.

It’s very rare that franchise retconning works out in the end, despite good intentions. Superman Returns didn’t lead to anything more. Highlander still just kept going downhill. Jaws the Revenge, Halloween H20: 20 Years Later and many others were similarly not worth the trouble. Alien³ and Alien: Resurrection have their fans and defenders, so there’s also room for controversy with this particular property.

The X-Men franchise is arguably doing an okay job with the back-booting, having successfully dismissed X-Men Origins: Wolverine and doing away with X-Men: The Last Stand through the magic of time travel retconning. Terminator: Genisys is apparently doing that with all of its franchise, even ignoring the events of the first movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger, meanwhile, is on board another retcon sequel, The Legend of Conan, which will ignore Conan the Destroyer.

There’s also been speculation given the discovery of Danny Elfman contributing music to Avengers: Age of Ultron, that the Marvel Cinematic Universe is looking to tease the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire Spider-Man continuity. But it’s not really likely Sony is going to go back to that series and ignore the two Amazing installments.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.