Noah Hawley’s Alien TV series, which will debut exclusively on Hulu, is still a way off, but fans are eager to hear more from this take on the famous sci-fi horror franchise. Many of us expected Disney to put the IP on ice after their Fox takeover, but it appears that telling new stories set in that universe is a priority for the company – It has claimed so since 2019, but it'll be breaking new ground on TV first, giving theatrical Alien releases some breathing room.
Ridley Scott die-hards might feel cheated, as his “David trilogy” appears to be 100% dead on the water. While he had plans for a third film (tentatively titled Alien: Awakening) to cap off the prequels to 1979’s Alien, it seems like Covenant’s massive cliffhanger won’t be picked up, at least not in the foreseeable future.
Before we dive in, if you want to catch up on the Alien movies then check out our Alien streaming guide. And if you want tot avoid the bad Alien movies (which, let's be honest, is quite a few of them), then our Alien movies, ranked worst to best article has you covered too.
One would expect Disney-controlled 20th Century Studios to put plans in motion to kickstart a new series of Alien movies which go back to the basics and try to replicate the first two entries in the long-running franchise, which are by far the most successful and revered instalments. Another option could be to try and resurrect Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5, which actually was an alternate sequel to Aliens, much like Dark Horse Comics’ follow-ups released at the end of the 1980s. Surprisingly, the first thing put in development is a TV series developed by Fargo and Legion creator Noah Hawley, who almost never plays it safe.
Aliens are coming to Earth
The show was first announced as a story that would bring the xenomorphs to Earth for the first time ever in an Alien film – although both Alien vs. Predator (AvP) instalments did it first, but I guess they’re not counting mediocre crossovers that don’t click with the (messy on its own) main continuity. The possibility of a massive xenomorph outbreak on Earth was the main reason why Ellen Ripley tried her best to keep Weyland-Yutani away from the creatures, eventually sacrificing herself in Alien 3 in order to destroy the alien queen embryo that had grown inside her.
The only confusing bit about the show’s official synopsis is that it’s “set not too far into our future.” According to the established Alien timeline, Alien: Covenant, during which David seemingly creates the xenomorph as we know it for the first time, takes place in the year 2104. Even if we choose to ignore Weyland-Yutani actively trying to get their hands on xenos during the original films, the current canon says the “classic” alien didn’t exist before 2104. And that’s hardly “not too far into our future.” So, contact had to be made before that somehow.
We should fully expect Hawley and his team to come up with a new explanation for the xenos’ presence on Earth if the series isn’t set between Covenant and the original Alien (2122) at the very least. Our best guess is that, as usual, Hawley is doing his own thing and that the powers that be don’t really care about continuity either. But, it’d be easy to establish that neither David nor the Engineers were fully responsible for the creation of xenos. AvP films don’t play well with the canon Alien timeline, but they let the mystery be and simply rolled with the idea that xenomorphs have been around the cosmos for centuries at least. In this occasion, we predict that things are going to get weird again.
Send in the Marines!
The Colonial Marines only appeared theatrically in James Cameron’s Aliens, the second film in the original saga, but quickly became one of the most iconic elements of the franchise across different media, especially video games. The idea of old-school space badasses mowing down hordes of xenomorphs before they are overwhelmed is attractive, and it appears that, unexpectedly, the Alien TV show could give us a taste of that.
The current synopsis also says the series will blend “both the timeless horror of the first Alien film with the non-stop action of the second.” Furthermore, the leaked character descriptions (opens in new tab) (verified by several sources) describe one of the main characters as “a medic with the Army.” Hawley previously stated he’d focus on the human element and the working class (more on that later), but having a character inside the Army, whichever of the armed forces that may be, could shake things up and give viewers a perspective that hasn’t been explored since 1986.
While we’re sure human drama and social struggles will be front and center with Noah Hawley at the helm, the return of high-octane action is enticing and will surely make the show a much more fun watch. Don’t expect these soldiers to fully resemble the Colonial Marines though, as we’ll be stuck on Earth.
Don’t forget about the synths
It probably wasn’t the intent back in 1979, but synthetics have become a mainstay in the Alien franchise. So much so that Ridley Scott paid more attention to them in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant than to the xenomorph itself, which didn’t even show up in the former. We do want to have the focus put back on the titular creature, but it’d be unwise to let go of the discussion about artificial intelligence and the synths’ role as humans-but-not-quite within that dark future. Scott went to great lengths to make us care about David’s personal journey as a creation that becomes a creator, and we’d like to go further down that rabbit hole too.
Hawley already mentioned (opens in new tab) during an interview for Vanity Fair that his story deals with humanity being “trapped between our primordial, parasitic past and our artificial intelligence future,” so it seems like he’ll explore some of the ideas planted by Scott, who’s a producer on the show despite throwing some shade recently (opens in new tab).
The character descriptions we previously mentioned also describe a woman “stuck in another person’s body” as the result of an experiment. Maybe that body is a synth, or maybe Hawley is going as crazy as expected with the deeper themes. One way or another, it appears the series will deal with what makes humans unique, which falls in line with thoughts that have been thrown around in the films before.
Fattened capitalism was the monster all along
The as yet untitled Alien TV show will infect households sometime in 2023 if everything goes as planned – cameras are set to start rolling March 2022 (opens in new tab). Let’s hope this new effort makes a bigger splash with audiences than the last few films which featured the iconic xenomorph.
As stated before, the class struggle lies at the center of Hawley’s interests – this was one of the pillars of the franchise since the very beginning. One of the great things about Alien is that none of its characters were action heroes, nor dumb teenagers filling classic slasher roles; the humans in that film were working Joes, far away from home for too long, working as space truckers with outdated tech and equipment for a humongous company with nefarious interests.
Hawley states that Alien stories are “always trapped,” with the characters trying to survive inside confined spaces, and one of his main objectives is to open up the setting while also asking tough questions about those who hold all the power and money, the ones who cause the messes due to their greed. This approach feels quite adequate for the current era, defined by the Covid pandemic and climate change, with inequality and class conflict being a bit too relevant again.