The Time Is Now: Bring Sigourney Weaver Back to the Aliens Franchise
Ellen Ripley's return is long overdue.
Ever since the return of Linda Hamilton in the role of Sarah Connor in the Terminator: Dark Fate trailer, I’ve been thinking about great heroines I would love to see reprise their roles onscreen, and right at the top of that wish list is none other than Sigourney Weaver revisiting her iconic role as Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise.
And here’s the thing: There’s never been a better time for Weaver to return to the role that made her famous. We’re living in an era where legacy characters are being integrated with younger casts to powerful effect. The return of Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, and Mark Hamill to the Star Wars universe delivered some long-awaited fan service to old and young audiences alike. From Jamie Lee Curtis’s reprisal of Laurie Strode in Halloween to Hamilton’s own return to Terminator, there’s something undeniably satisfying about the revival of these beloved characters.
Weaver, who last played Ripley in 1997’s Alien: Resurrection, is more than game. She was all set to return to the role in 2016, when Neil Blomkamp (District 9) was developing Aliens 5. The film would have functioned as a direct sequel to 1986’s Aliens, retconning the less-than-successful Alien³ and Resurrection.
Weaver had said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “It’s a great story and it’s satisfying to me to give this woman an ending … The script itself has so much in it that’s so original, but also really satisfies the, I would say, the primal needs of the aliens … It’s a tribute to all of the great work that the other directors have done, in a way, but goes in a completely new direction. I hope we’ll do it.”
Blomkamp and Weaver, who worked together previously on Chappie, had dual forces to contend with that kept their sequel on the shelf. The first was a struggle of scheduling between Weaver’s Avatar commitments and Blomkamp’s packed slate. The second was Ridley Scott’s grand plans for the Alien prequels.
Rumor has it that Scott didn’t want Aliens 5 interfering with the prequel series that launched with the plodding, overly complicated Prometheus and its underperforming sequel, Alien: Covenant. In a 2017 interview, Scott said of the project, “There was never a script … It was an idea that evolved from, I believe, a 10-page pitch, and I was meant to be the producer on that. And it didn’t evolve. Fox decided that they didn’t want to do it and that was it.”
Blomkamp confirmed that his sequel was nixed in an interview with The Verge, saying, “I think it’s totally dead, yes. That would be an accurate assumption at this point. It’s sad. I spent a long time working on that, and I feel like it was really pretty awesome. But politically, the way it’s gone now, and the way that it all is—it’s just not going to live.”
Blomkamp has shared concept art and creature sculpts via social media over the years, giving fans a glimpse of what Alien 5 might have been:
View this post on Instagram
As of now, the future of the Alien franchise remains uncertain. Thanks to a poor box office performance, Scott is not likely to make a sequel to Covenant, and Fox’s merger with Disney means that a whole new set of executives will be taking the reins of the iconic property.
Blomkamp’s vision may be dead for now, but there’s no reason that we can’t see a Weaver-led return in the future. After all, the audience appeal is definitely there, and Weaver is on board for a satisfying ending to Ripley’s journey. In an interview last year, Weaver was clearly still game, saying, “I love working with Neill, and I think he’d do a terrific job, and James Cameron really thinks it’s a great idea, so you never know. Right now, I think Neill’s got like three projects going at once.”
As the heart and soul of the franchise, Aliens simply don’t work without Weaver. Here’s hoping she finally gets a shot to end Ripley’s story on her terms.
(via The Hollywood Reporter, image: 20th Century Fox)
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