As one of a handful of people who genuinely likes David Fincher’s Alien3, I’m sensitive about the notion of excluding it from canon. It’s bleak and fatalistic and beloved characters from Aliens are killed off in casual fashion, but that’s sort of the point. People have longed for an alternate version of the franchise where Hicks and Newt are alive and kicking; a longing that prompted a thankfully cancelled direct sequel to Aliens with Neill Blomkamp (Chappie, other stuff) at the helm.1 That sort of nonsense seems like the same kind of fan-indulgent wankery that’s lead to things like petitions for an immediate remake of The Last Jedi. Then again, I’m genuinely excited for the new, sequel-ignoring sequel to Halloween, so maybe I shouldn’t judge.
That doesn’t mean I’m not curious about what an alternative sequel to Aliens would look like, especially when it’s written by a science fiction legend. William Gibson, one of the original cyberpunk writers and coiner of the word “cyberspace,” was originally recruited to write the screenplay for that sequel, and yes, Hicks and Newt and Bishop survived in those drafts. You can find scans of the script online fairly easily, although I haven’t read it. Apparently it starts off like this:
“We open on ELLEN RIPLEY, the survivor of the first two films. She has gotten a few enhancements. She now has permanently embedded sunglasses over her eyes, a pink mohawk, and samurai-sword finger nails that can extend and retract at will.”2
Wow! Exciting! So, while I’m glad we got the Alien3 we did (particularly the Assembly Cut), I would enjoy seeing Gibson’s particular vision for it. Even if he has no experience in horror, his grimy, ground-level vision of a high tech future dominated by dueling mega-corporations and AIs is a perfect match for the “working class folks in space getting fucked by the system” vibe of the Alien franchise. And it looks like we soon will be able to see Gibson’s take, not in the form of a movie but a comic book series! Dark Horse Comics has announced that they will be publishing an adaptation of Gibson’s screenplay in comic book format, under the creative title William Gibson’s Alien 3. This actually excites me and strikes me as a good compromise; something that satisfies fan desire and curiosity without necessarily catering to childish entitlement. This is not the first time Dark Horse has done something like this. In 2013 they published The Star Wars, a comic adaptation of George Lucas’ original draft for Star Wars, which differs significantly from the final film. It’s a neat concept, and there are so many discarded versions of movies that I wouldn’t mind seeing it happen more often. Jaws 3 People 0, I’m looking at you.
Here’s the (real) synopsis:
“Following the deadly events of Aliens, the Union of Progressive Peoples intercepts the spaceship carrying the hibernating bodies of Ripley, Hicks, Newt, and Bishop. But unbeknownst to them, they have also picked up another deadly passenger whose discovery will unleash a race between two governments to weaponize the xenomorph in this horrifying and poignant Cold War-themed thriller.”
Sounds awesome to me. William Gibson’s Alien 3 #1 will be on shelves November 7th.
- Blomkamp is now doing exactly the same thing with RoboCop, which… Yeah, that is such a bad fit I don’t know where to begin.
- Yes, yes. This is not real. Spoof courtesy of our own Andrew McRae.