Let’s start with clearing the air—no, I don’t have a problem with this.
And I’ve spent the last 20+ years defending Alien 3. This new direction in the series is not so much about injecting new life into the franchise as it is movie companies being perceptive about audiences’ capacity to recognize divergent narratives. When movie franchise ultimately stopped making money, they were put to pasture and forgotten. It doesn’t help that skyrocketing movie costs have prohibited the green lighting of big-budget original films. Combine these two ideas and what you get are reboots and divergent narratives.
Reboots had been as rare as a properly cooked Japanese Wagyu rib eye until the late 90s; now, they’re everywhere. The time delay between failed franchises to reboot can now be measured in less than a decade. It’s becoming a common practice. Now we have divergent narratives, meaning retroactively cutting partway into a franchise. One could argue the new Batman V Superman is attempting that, while Singer’s Superman Returns most definitely did so when it cut in after Donner’s last Superman film (ignoring Superman 3 and 4). Singer then repeated that same tactic with X-Men: Days of Future Past, which blatantly forced X-Men: The Last Stand from canon. Obviously, this can work. Hell, the recent Terminator: Genisys looks to be a divergent narrative that actually cuts in DURING the first film.
Which brings us to the news—Neill Blomkamp’s Instagram tease has now turned into a full-fledged movie project. For those not following, Blomkamp aroused the masses with a handful of images concocted while in post-production on Chappie. Done more for fun, as Sigourney Weaver was working on his current project, Blomkamp posted them assuming not much would come of it. Then the internet went nuts. People loved them. It was not a serious pitch…then it became one. Weaver later revealed that if Blomkamp made it, she would be interested. Eventually, Fox executives added publicly that if Blomkamp was serious about it, they would be as well. Days later, the announcement was official. Basically, we all witnessed the public negotiations of a movie deal in real time. The recent update announced the new film would match the sketches Neill had previously revealed, which was fine except some of them appeared a little…off.
Alien 3 and Resurrection established that no aliens survived Ripley’s sacrifice, and it took a peculiar cloning experiment to bring them both back in the last film, where the franchise ended (let’s just ignore those predator crossovers, please). The new sketches showed the engineer / jockey ship intact in a Weyland-Yutani warehouse. Another was of still very-much-alive Hicks by Ripley’s side. This pointed to the obvious theory that if allowed, Blomkamp was about to erase the post Aliens timeline. I admit loving Alien 3, but I understand not all do, and the franchise is often judged as two great movies that quickly ran out of steam. Even I admit there were no legs in the franchise after Resurrection. It was an interesting film but did nothing to establish roots for a new series. Whedon likes blaming the fault of Resurrection’s failure on the producers and directors, but I read his original script—it had problems from the start. There was nowhere for the series to go. A prequel was the only logical solution. Then Scott went and decided to re-jigger that into a new mythology, leaving the Alien series still dangling.
Given the precedent established this decade, and given that Alien 3 is over 20 years old now, I think we can say that timeline had its day, and like the recent Star Trek reboot, is ready for a new direction. Cutting in just before events went pear-shaped in the setting (everyone from the previous film died in Alien 3, if you don’t recall) makes perfect sense. My only issue is that Blomkamp has never really taken the reins of someone else’s property before. Everything prior has been based on ideas he developed. I look forward to seeing what he can do.