Alien: Romulus won’t feature Sigourney Weaver’s iconic Ellen Ripley character but that’s actually a good thing for the franchise in disguise.
- “Alien: Romulus will be unconnected to previous films, allowing for a fresh story without the constraints of existing characters and developments.”
- “Sigourney Weaver has confirmed that she will not reprise her role as Ripley, eliminating potential timeline complications and avoiding the need for forced narratives.”
- “The Alien franchise needs to move beyond Ripley and the original stories, focusing on the terrifying creature itself and introducing a new cast of characters to revitalize the series.”
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Ripley’s absence from Alien: Romulus is great news for the new installment. Currently in production and on track for a 2024 release, Alien: Romulus will serve as the ninth entry in the franchise. One of the more exciting prospects when Disney bought Fox was what they might do with the Alien franchise, which previously had a fourth Ridley Scott entry titled Alien: Awakening in development, designed to close out the prequel trilogy he started with Prometheus and continued with Alien: Covenant. However, Scott’s film was ultimately shelved in favor of a soft reboot from Fede Alvarez.
Alien: Romulus director Fede Alvarez has confirmed that the film will be “unconnected” to the previous films. Obviously, this detail has interesting implications for the new movie’s story. After all, it says a lot about what the movie can and won’t include in terms of existing characters and story developments. Perhaps most importantly, there’s the matter of its connection to Ripley – or lack thereof.
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Ripley Is Not Returning For Disney’s New Alien
In 2015, Neill Blomkamp announced that his next film would be a fifth Alien movie. Shortly afterward, Sigourney Weaver announced that she had signed on to the project. The film was believed to be a direct sequel to Aliens that would retcon the events of Alien³ and Alien Resurrection, essentially creating a new Alien franchise timeline. With its development taking place concurrently with Ridley Scott’s own Alien sequel, Alien: Covenant, Alien 5 was quietly and disappointingly scrapped. Though Romulus presents the franchise with another opportunity to bring back Ripley, it’s been confirmed that Ripley won’t be on hand in the film.
The actress herself has debunked the possibility of the fan-favorite Alien protagonist showing up in Romulus. Sigourney Weaver has made it abundantly clear that she has no interest in reprising her Ellen Ripley role in the new film. Weaver reiterated that she would have starred in Blomkamp’s Alien 5, but its cancelation has prompted her to move on. As Weaver said, that “ship has sailed.”
Disney’s New Alien Ripley Plan Avoids Potential Timeline Problems
Ripley not being involved should help the franchise avoid complications when it comes to the timeline, especially since Ellen Ripley originally died at the end of Alien³. The franchise then bent over backward to revive her character for the following installment, Alien Resurrection, in which Ripley finds herself cloned 200 years later. At this point, Sigourney Weaver is 73 years old, a quarter of a century older than she was when Resurrection was released. The only realistic options for bringing the character back would be to make Alien: Romulus a sequel that picks up with the Ripley clone in a world where the xenomorphs have been fully eradicated, or to make a prequel where Weaver spends the entire film digitally de-aged, a technique that has seen mixed results.
Other alternatives, like bringing Ripley back as yet another clone, would be contrived to the point that it would be silly, and the franchise already needs to move past a very real problem of being bogged down in its own mythology and lore. Ridley Scott returned to the franchise he started to helm the last two Alien movies, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant. Both films were met with extremely mixed reactions. The consensus was that no one needed to learn the intricate details of the backstory behind the xenomorphs in Alien. In fact, a prevailing argument is that it’s much scarier to not know where the titular aliens came from.
Alien Bringing Ripley Back Would Make No Sense
While she’s undeniably a huge part of it, the Alien franchise isn’t about Ellen Ripley. Numerous projects already exist without Ripley, ranging from movies to comic books to video games. There’s even an Alien FX series in the works from Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley. Alien is, for all intents and purposes, a horror movie in space, and while the likes of Halloween have found great mileage in bringing back their protagonists from time to time, the vast majority of horror franchises are built around the killer or the monster. Alien is no exception. The focus is and always has been the xenomorphs, and bringing Ripley back into the equation only creates problems. Plus, there’s no reason why so many Alien stories would revolve around just one of the race’s human foes.
Additionally, with Sigourney Weaver saying, “the ship has sailed” for her to play Ripley again, bringing her back might not have satisfactory results. While it can be great to see an actor reprise an iconic role from their past, forcing it just for the sake of seeing them again can turn out poorly and tarnish a character’s legacy. While Alien Resurrection might not exactly be the character going out on a high, it’s likely better than Weaver coming back when she has no interest in doing so. There being no good narrative reason for Ripley to show up makes her presence even more unnecessary for Alien: Romulus.
Alien Needs To Move Beyond Ripley (And The Original Stories)
The desire for more Ripley speaks to a problem with Hollywood at large in that franchises are too reliant on nostalgia. Seeing the return of a beloved, iconic character can be a great way to offer closure, but too often it’s a cheap way to generate pathos in a movie that otherwise has no emotion or depth. Ellen Ripley is dead so, in all likelihood, any new version of the character the Alien franchise might give audiences would technically be a brand-new character such as a clone who shares Ellen’s DNA but is their own person.
Ridley Scott had the right idea with Prometheus in that he was trying to pull the franchise away from being a simple rehash of past glories. Alien: Romulus needs to attempt this in a new way, by introducing a brand-new cast of characters and, just as the Alien movies are all heavily auteured, Alien: Romulus should be allowed to exist purely as Fede Alvarez’s film. Given his underrated backdoor sequel to Evil Dead and the surprise hit, Don’t Breathe, an Alvarez Alien film should be a gripping horror movie on a level of terror beyond anything the Alien franchise has seen to date. It can save the Alien franchise, and Ellen Ripley isn’t needed for that. It’s the creature itself that’s the true star of the franchise.
Key Release Dates
- Alien: Romulus Release Date: 2024-08-16