“When I said to [Ridley Scott], ‘You know, Weyland was a character in one of the Alien Vs. Predator movies,’ he just sort of looked at me like I had just slapped him in the face. That was the beginning, middle and end of all Alien Vs. Predator references in our story process.” — Damon Lindeloff
For fans of all things Alien Vs. Predator, the above quote from Prometheus co-writer Damon Lindelof likely sounds the death knell for the continuation of the AVP shared cinematic universe, and perhaps even beyond. Indeed, with Ridley Scott’s return to the franchise he started, and Shane Black looking to the original Predator to re-energize that franchise, neither seem interested in the high-concept crossover anymore. The two monsters appear to have consciously uncoupled, unlikely to share the same screen again.
While your feelings about the dissolution of this marriage depends on your level of devotion to either franchise, I’m happy to consider the AVP movies a fun but failed genre experiment and move on.
Before we close the book, however, let’s take a moment to consider the history of how the Alien and Predator franchises came together, ultimately resulting in two films and a few key references.
A year before Stephen Hopkins’ Predator 2 hit theaters in 1990, Dark Horse comics put the creatures together in a three-issue anthology called “Dark Horse Presents” (#34-36), the final issue of which pit the two in their first official battle.
During the production of Predator 2, effects artists John Rosengrant and Shane Mahan (who had also both worked on James Cameron’s Aliens), came up with the idea to include a Xenomorph skull among the Predator’s hunting trophies when Danny Glover boards the alien ship during the film’s finale.
The inclusion of the Alien skull was meant as an inside joke, similar to how Stephen Spielberg famously included Star Wars references in his early work, but it ignited the imagination of many keen-eyed viewers who, in a pre-Reddit 1990, shared the story of seeing the skull with friends who may have missed it.
I personally remember missing the reference in Predator 2, then, upon hearing the rumor, immediately renting the film again and fast-forwarding to the end of the VHS tape to see for myself.
Here’s that moment:
No doubt, one of the kids whose imaginations were set alight from this crossover was director Paul W.S. Anderson, a self-professed genre nerd, who brought the first AVP film to the screen in 2004.
One of the ways Anderson bridged the franchises was to make the smart decision to include the human counterpart to Aliens‘ android Bishop, Charles Bishop Weyland as played by the same actor, Lance Henriksen. And like in Prometheus, the Weyland in the film is looking for eternal life.
So, while I can understand why Ridley Scott would reject the idea of considering AVP cannon, Lindelof bringing up the connection makes perfect sense to me thematically.
Next came the Brothers Strause’s AVP: Requiem, by all accounts a misfire. And while the directors have claimed to be determined to make an AVP 3, now that Scott and Black are driving the respective franchises, I think it’s safe to say the project is unlikely to come together.
It’s worth noting that no film in the Alien franchise contains a reference to the Predator series, while Nimród Antal’s subsequent Predators continues the trend of Predator movies referencing the world of Alien. The references are harder to spot, but many believe that a Xenomorph skull appears at the Predator camp in the film, while characters utter a line verbatim from Aliens (“If the time comes, I’ll do us both”).
Even in the expanded world of comics and novels the Alien Vs. Predator products have either slowed down or become a little… silly. I mean, Dredd has entered the battle at this point just to keep the idea interesting. Don’t get me wrong. I love Aliens, Predators and Dredds, but that stew is a little overwhelming.
So, what do you think? Have we officially closed the book on the AVP cinematic universe? And what hope do you think the concept has overall?