Director Neill Blomkamp’s canceled sequel Alien 5 was set to retcon everything after Alien 3, but the Terminator movies prove this approach can fail.
Director Neill Blomkamp’s proposed Alien 5 looked like a potentially interesting addition to the Alien series, but the results of retconning fellow sci-fi horror franchise The Terminator proves that the proposed sequel’s success would have been an uphill battle. Both the Terminator and Alien franchises have knotty, complicated histories. The two sci-fi horror series began with critically acclaimed original movies which were followed by equally beloved sequels, only for every project afterward to struggle with winning over fans and critics alike.
However, while the later sequels to director Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi horror movie Alien have been divisive among the fandom, the franchise has at least managed to avoid the biggest mistake made by the Terminator movies. The Terminator series rebooted its timeline to retcon a disliked sequel, a seemingly smart solution that led to no end of trouble for the franchise. Since then, the Terminator franchise has rebooted its timeline no less than three times and lost the patience of many in the process.
Taking a look back on the critical reaction to the Terminator franchise’s many retcons proves that director Neill Blomkamp’s Alien 5 may not have saved the series in the way many hoped the proposed project would. While there is no denying that Blomkamp’s canceled Alien 5 reviving Newt and Hicks sounded promising, the movie’s planned creation of a new timeline for the Alien franchise could easily have fallen apart fast. If the Terminator movies are any indication, rewriting the history of the Alien movies may have resulted in a split fanbase, confused casual viewers, and angry reviewers.
Blomkamp’s Planned Alien 5 Explained
Blomkamp’s version of Alien 5 was first pitched in 2015 when the director revealed that he was working on a sequel that retconned the events of Alien 3. The franchise outing would have focused on an older Hicks and Ripley and apparently told a story that original series star Sigourney Weaver was enthusiastically interested in. The sequel would have brought back Ripley and Aliens star Hicks by undoing the events of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, and there were rumors that the sequel’s story also revived Newt. This would have meant Alien 5 would essentially have acted as a reboot of the franchise, fundamentally altering its timeline much like another highly anticipated belated sci-fi sequel had done a little earlier.
How Timeline Rebooting Messed Up The Terminator Franchise
While 2009’s flawed Terminator: Salvation was far from critically adored, the post-apocalyptic war movie still fared better with most critics than the next franchise installment, 2015’s indecipherable Terminator: Genisys. Terminator: Genisys not only set up a new timeline for the franchise but also retconned a lot of Salvation‘s story in the process, resulting in a messy and self-contradictory chronology for the series. A lot went wrong with Terminator: Genisys, with the screenwriters turning down the chance to draft a script three times before eventually producing a draft and director Alan Taylor admitting that the screenplay already needed work when he signed on to the sequel. One of the primary problems that Terminator: Genisys faced was getting viewers invested in a timeline that rewrote the events of the franchise, since it was difficult to make the movie’s story seem impactful when the premise of the reboot proved that anything viewers disliked could be retconned by the next sequel.
This was exactly what happened with the next Terminator project, 2019’s Terminator: Dark Fate. Even though the belated franchise addition brought back series star Linda Hamilton as the iconic heroine Sarah Connor, Terminator: Dark Fate’s opening scene killed off John Connor and immediately made it clear that the events of Genisys were no longer canon—exactly what Genisys did to the action of earlier movies in the series. This constant story revision resulted in a sequel that many struggled to get invested in, and that more casual viewers had trouble even following – something that Blomkamp’s Alien 5 would have risked by bringing back the canonically dead Ripley.
Could The Alien Franchise Handle Retcons Better Than Terminator?
While revising canon is never an easy task, there’s an argument to be made that Alien 5’s retcons wouldn’t have been as disastrous as those of Terminator: Genisys. Admittedly Blomkamp’s proposed retcon would have cut two entire movies out of the Alien timeline, but the Terminator franchise’s retcons in both Genisys and Dark Fate started new timelines while also keeping the original timeline in place. While Blomkamp jokingly blamed 2015’s Chappie for Alien 5’s cancellation, the reality that his sequel would have needed to explain away the events of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection may have played a bigger part in the project being shelved. That said, Scott’s own Alien prequel Prometheus retconned the Alien Vs Predator movies and viewers didn’t seem to particularly mind, with this decision being one of the few Prometheus plot holes that no one demanded an explanation for. As a result, the fact that Alien 5’s approach was a lot simpler (simply undoing the last two sequels instead of starting a new, parallel timeline) could have made Blomkamp’s movie less likely to confuse than the unclear plot trajectory of the Terminator series.
Why Blomkamp’s Alien 5 Would Still Have Been Better Than Terminator 7
While retconning entire movies is always a worrying sign for a franchise, Alien 5 could have picked up from where Aliens left off without much baggage because Alien is a sci-fi horror franchise rather than a series focused on time travel specifically. Since the project was just replacing one version of events with another, Alien 5 may have proved able to undo Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection even if a small subsection of the fans would inevitably have been annoyed. However, as the Terminator movies were centered around time travel, the series needed all of its timelines to make sense for the plot to have any impact. This meant that the convoluted logic of numerous intersecting timelines was more of a death knell for the Terminator franchise than a comparatively simple retcon might have been for the Alien movies. Even still, the promise of Blomkamp’s Alien 5 could have proven empty if the movie’s retcons made the franchise as impenetrable as the Terminator series.
More: How Alien Flopped (Despite Making $100 Million)
Every Upcoming Movie Sequel In 2022
About The Author