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Before The Snyder Cut, There Was William Gibson’s ‘Alien 3’ — And Now It’s Back

Before David Fincher murdered Hicks and Newt offscreen, the sci-fi genius behind Neuromancer imagined the ultimate Aliens sequel.
Alien Rivera Art
By  · Published on July 12th, 2018

What could have been? That is the question that plagues so many fanatics immediately following the disappointment of whatever cinematic reality they’ve received. It’s the old adage about the grass always being greener on the other side. We don’t know what’s over there, but it’s gotta be better than the dump we’re currently occupying.

What if Stanley Kubrick got his chance to complete A.I.? Tim Burton’s Superman Lives sure would have been something. Edgar Wright could have elevated Ant-Man beyond minor Marvel fair. A few sickies out there might even dream of a Back to the Future starring Eric “The Fly II” Stoltz (ok, that was a low blow on multiple accounts, Eric Stoltz rules in Mask). Right now the fan community is in flames with daydreams/nightmares regarding the Snyder Cut of Justice League. Folks, it’s just not going to happen.

Or maybe one day it will. You never know. Dark Horse Comics (via CBR) announced today that they’re daring to do what 20th Century Fox once refused. Hitting newsstands on November 7th, “William Gibson’s Alien 3” is the realization of the lost adventures of the android Bishop (played by Lance Henriksen in Aliens) and Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn). Based on a treatment in which Ellen Ripley was jettisoned from the storyline (due to fear that Sigourney Weaver would not return for a second sequel), the science-fiction author of “Neuromancer” imagined an action film in which the surviving male heroes combated genetically enhanced xenomorphs aboard a space station.

Gibson produced two drafts of the script in 1988 but was quickly replaced by eight other disposable screenwriters. Eventually, David Fincher would shoot the film that we know, and Larry Ferguson, David Giler, and Walter Hill would be attributed with the final screenplay with Vincent Ward receiving a story credit. The result was a gritty, ugly, and often uncomfortable terror film in which Ripley fought off an alien born from a dog, rescued a prison planet full of treacherous scumbags and sacrificed herself to end the line of the universe’s most deadly species. A real, damn bummer of a movie and not at all the crowd-pleaser action-fest of the previous film.

I understand fanboy disappointment because of Alien 3. I don’t understand being insane, hateful jackasses, but I get the pain of “That’s not what I wanted.” I was devastated when I walked out of my first Alien 3 screening. I could not fathom why a filmmaker/supposed fan of the franchise would so carelessly dispatch Hicks and Newt offscreen before the opening credits even completed. Bishop was a regal badass of an android, and I was looking forward to seeing him fight back-to-back with Ripley against a horde of rampaging aliens. That’s why I bought my ticket.

While I’ve come around to appreciating Fincher’s attempt to return to the horror of the original Ridley Scott film, and absolutely get how studio interference robbed even his version of the pathos he was looking to inject into the proceedings, the fanboy in me simply wanted a kickass repeat of Aliens. Pulling back on the relentless action on LV-426 put a real slump in my shoulders. #NotMyAlien3

Nowadays, I really detest the critique of, “That’s not how I would do it.” Yeah, yeah, ok. But this is the movie you got, what do you think of it? I’m not the pre-teen I was in 1992, but I’m still connected to those emotions, and I am incredibly curious to see what Gibson’s fringe universe version of the film would have been.

I tip my hat to Dark Horse Comics. For nearly 30 years they’ve been cranking out comics based in the Weyland-Yutani universe. They were the first ones to pit the xenomorphs against the predators. They’ve hired illustrative geniuses like Mike Mignola and James Stokoe to play around with these creatures. Just when I think they couldn’t possibly have anything more to offer with this concept – BOOM. “William Gibson’s Alien 3” is a mini-miracle.

So yeah, to all those devout Snyder Cut believers, I’m not sure you’ll ever get your film as you imagined, but one day Dark Horse Comics might come to your rescue as well. Cross those fingers.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)