Neill Blomkamp is taking fans back to one of the greatest sci-fi-horror films ever made – Aliens. But will the as-yet unnamed sequel feature Aliens’ “other” hero: Corporal Hicks? This is WHY Alien 5 NEEDS Hicks…
Okay, if you’ve never seen James Cameron’s brilliant science-fiction action extravaganza Aliens then beware, I’m going to give you a great big spoiler in about 30 seconds. Actually, make that fives seconds.
Corporal Dwayne Hicks, played by Cameron favourite Michael Biehn, is the heroic colonial marine of the film. Leading a team of well-equipped soldiers to hostile territory on a desolate planet named LV 426, Hicks, despite his best efforts, cannot save his fellow soldiers from systematic demise in the face of alien hordes. The only survivor of those on a military payroll, Hicks helps Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) and a young child escape the planet with the assistance of android Bishop (Lance Henriksen).
By the end of James Cameron’s heart-stopping film, we know we’ve faced terror in the face and survived. We’ve been put through a rollercoaster ride of emotions built on the deeply unsettling, earth-shattering horror of a ghastly villain with a single-minded thirst for human flesh and an almost unstoppable ability to get it. Yet we, along with our hero Hicks and his companion Ripley, survive. We made it. Somehow, we made it.
Then, incredibly, director David Fincher kills our hero in his sleep in the pre-credits sequence of Aliens’ sequel Alien 3.
The man who stormed the aliens’ lair with a chip on his shoulder and a quip for morale (“I like to keep this for close encounters”); the man who faced danger head on despite being told he couldn’t fire his primary weapon (the semi-automatic phased plasma pulse rifle) in case of setting off a fatal nuclear explosion; and the man who got his companions to their feet, dragging them away from the battlefield despite putting himself in further strife.
This man – this hero – is then killed in his sleep!
Hicks took control when others were falling. Hicks had a plan when the rest were panicking. Hicks kept his nerve when his fellow survivors had lost theirs.
Then he dies while sleeping in the pre-credits sequence of the sequel.
My point is that, despite Alien 3 being a great addition to the franchise on its own merit, I have never been able to totally forgive it for its opening sequence. Essentially, in order to focus the story completely on the series’ main protagonist Ripley, the film’s director David Fincher gets rid of James Cameron’s surviving characters. This, of course, has a number of benefits from a storytelling perspective, that’s undeniable. After all, our focus should always be on Ripley when it comes to the Alien story. But that doesn’t help the fact that fans of Aliens felt somewhat short–changed by our previous hero’s defenceless demise while sleeping in his Hypersleep chamber. The same can be said of the young girl who becomes such an important part of the previous film, particularly because of Ripley’s maternal relationship to her.
Now Neill Blomkamp’s “Alien 5” has a chance to put that right.
The gossip so far has suggested Blomkamp wants his story to be a continuation of Aliens. He has said he doesn’t want to disregard the alien mythology developed in Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection but that he wants to premise his story on the basis of Aliens’ ending. Sigourney Weaver has signed up to reprise her role; does that mean Hicks actor Michael Biehn will follow suit?
Why would we want Michael Biehn and Hicks to return?
Like Ripley, where no one but Sigourney Weaver could ever play her, Hicks is an iconic character and Biehn’s performance is a major part of the character’s success. So if Hicks were to return, Michael Biehn would have to return too. In fact, he told a fan at the Pensecon convention recently that he had been contacted about “Alien 5” although this alleged conversation’s authenticity has an element of doubt attached to it.
That said, Blomkamp created concept art for an Alien film he would make if given the chance while shooting Chappie. A few months later he was signed up to write and direct “Alien 5”. It’s at this point his ideas take on further relevance and most interestingly (see below) we find a drawing depicting Hicks and Ripley after the events of Aliens. More evidence Hicks could return.
But more importantly, Sigourney Weaver has spoke of her dissatisfaction with the way her character was left after the fourth Alien movie. She said it felt “incomplete”, that “we just left [her] at such a creepy place, sort of stranded above Earth. We left it hanging. And there’s a way to finish this story that I think would be satisfying to me and the many fans.”
That’s the critical point. An “Alien 5” movie is as much a film for long-term fans as it is a new commercial venture aimed at audiences unfamiliar with any Alien movie prior to AvP. And the fans demand (perhaps we “need”) a similar sort of closure for our hero Hicks.
Neill Blomkamp’s untitled “Alien 5” movie has the chance to give Corporal Dwayne Hicks a proper send off. This is the moment Aliens’ other hero gets one last shot at the limelight. He deserves it. In the words of a fellow space-adventuring hero Jean-Luc Picard of the USS Enterprise: “Make it so!”