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Romulus Looks Likely To Repeat A 7-Year-Old Franchise Mistake


Summary

  • Alien: Romulus
    should avoid repeating the grim endings of previous films in the franchise.
  • A smaller, more claustrophobic horror story could be promising for the reboot.
  • The movie should establish characters for viewers to invest in, avoiding killing off all main characters.



Although Alien: Romulus seems determined to repeat an Alien franchise mistake, the reboot shouldn’t fall victim to this error. The Alien movies are full of unhappy endings. Alien 3 features one of the bleakest finales in sci-fi horror history and its opening managed the unique achievement of making the triumphant ending of Aliens tragic in retrospect. Alien Vs Predator: Requiem’s ending is as hopeless and cynical as the rest of the movie’s action, while Alien: Covenant’s twist is almost laughably cruel. As such, 2024’s Alien reboot Alien: Romulus could easily justify a thoroughly grim ending.


At least, that is how it might seem. However, none of these movies are particularly popular among fans of the franchise and critics, with all three of them consistently being singled out as weaker entries in the series. Alien: Romulus’s story, which is set between Alien and Aliens, should keep this in mind. Judging by its promotional materials, director Fede Alvarez’s movie is set to reduce the scope and scale of Ridley Scott’s prequels Prometheus and Alien: Covenant to offer a smaller, more claustrophobic, and intense horror story. This is promising, but it doesn’t mean Alien: Romulus must end badly for its heroes.

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Alien: Romulus Risks Repeating Alien: Covenant’s Annoying Ending

Prometheus’s 2017 Sequel Offered Viewers Little Closure


Despite how shocking the twist might be, Alien: Romulus should avoid repeating Alien: Covenant’s twist ending where every human character dies. This bleak punchline, where the surviving heroes are tricked by Michael Fassbender’s duplicitous droid David, aimed for darkness but ended up feeling frustrating and pointless instead. The final scene of Alien: Covenant revealed that David won and everyone died, but this made the entire endeavor feel somewhat aimless. The new movie’s limited cast makes a similarly grim ending seem likely, but the filmmakers should carefully consider this option and potentially reveal more hidden Alien: Romulus characters instead.

Since David killed
Prometheus
’s heroine Elizabeth Shaw and used her body for his twisted experiments off-screen, it is reasonably obvious that he intends to do the same to
Alien: Covenant
’s last surviving human characters.


Alien: Covenant has a relatively large cast, but they are swiftly killed off one at a time when David’s experimental Neomorphs attack them. David himself switched places with the identical heroic android Walter, helping the heroes escape in the end before revealing his true nature when it was too late for them to stop him. Since David killed Prometheus’s heroine Elizabeth Shaw and used her body for his twisted experiments off-screen, it is reasonably obvious that he intends to do the same to Alien: Covenant’s last surviving human characters. This makes their entire story feel like a waste of time.

Alien: Romulus’s Director Makes A Bleak Ending Likely

Director Fede Alvarez Rarely Utilizes Happy Endings


It is possible to pull off a hopeless horror movie ending effectively. 2017’s Alien-inspired sci-fi horror Life managed to make an ending where everyone dies feel fresh and clever thanks to a mean-spirited but ingenious final twist. Similarly, some of Alvarez’s earlier movies feature endings where the heroes are thoroughly decimated by evil forces. The director’s 2013 Evil Dead reboot left everyone but Jane Levy’s heroine Mia dead, while 2016’s home invasion horror Don’t Breathe left everyone but Jane Levy’s Rocky dead. As if to consciously buck this trend, 2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre reboot implied every character died.

Hopeless endings aren’t the surprise they once were.


Admittedly, Alvarez only produced 2022’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, the fact that the reboot received much weaker reviews than both Evil Dead 2013 and Don’t Breathe proves that hopeless endings aren’t the surprise they once were. Alien: Romulus avoided one franchise mistake by adding more than one Xenomorph to its story, judging by the trailers. Alvarez’s movie should also avoid repeating the grimmest problem that recurs throughout the series by letting a handful of characters survive the carnage. Paradoxically, this makes the movie more suspenseful since there is some hope of them getting out of their ordeal alive.

Alien: Romulus’s Small Cast Makes A Bleak Ending More Likely

Viewers Already Saw At Least One Gruesome Fate


That said, it will be tough for Alien: Romulus to convince viewers that its cast isn’t doomed. There are only six named characters in Alien: Romulus and one of them, David Jonsson’s Andy, is an android rather than a human. This means his potential death would hold less emotional weight, but the movie’s promotional materials seem determined to undermine the effectiveness of every other demise. Already, Alien: Romulus’s trailers spoiled Navarro’s chest-burster, and heavily implied Bjorn will suffer the same fate. That leaves only four named characters, not including the robot Andy, who could survive the story.


It is comparatively likely that Cailee Spaeny’s Rain will make it out of Alien: Romulus alive since the reboot’s promotional materials have posited her as something of a replacement for Sigourney Weaver’s original franchise heroine Ripley. The rest of the cast is unlikely to be so lucky, but even Rain’s relative centrality doesn’t make her indispensable. Katherine Waterson’s Daniels from Alien: Covenant shared a lot in common with Prometheus’s heroine Elizabeth Shaw, but still ended up suffering a brutal fate. Similarly, Shaw herself seemed destined to be a Ripley-esque self-sufficient sci-fi heroine until her death was unceremoniously revealed in Alien: Covenant.

It almost seems disingenuously silly to argue that a violent, scary sci-fi horror movie shouldn’t kill off its characters.

Why Alien: Romulus Needs Some Survivors

The Alien Franchise Can’t Be Revived Without Recurring Characters

Isabela Merced's Kay looks shocked beside a Xenomorph in Alien Romulus
Custom image by Yeider Chacon


It almost seems disingenuously silly to argue that a violent, scary sci-fi horror movie shouldn’t kill off its characters. However, Alien: Romulus killing off all its main characters isn’t a good idea despite how impactful it may sound. Alien: Romulus can expand the world of the series, but this will only work if the reboot establishes characters the audience can get invested in. If no one is left alive by the time the credits roll, viewers have no reason to anticipate another installment from the franchise. This is perhaps best illustrated by the classic original movie from 1979.


Ripley might have been the only one to make it out of Alien, but the rest of the franchise makes it clear that her survival was pretty pivotal. Similarly, the anger over Newt and Hicks’ pre-Alien 3 death proves how important their survival in Aliens was too. The impact of the deaths in these two movies, which are still considered the franchise’s zenith, directly correlates to their survivors. Alien and Aliens have devastating deaths precisely because a few characters do survive, which makes the story more unpredictable. Thus, Alien: Romulus shouldn’t repeat a major Alien franchise mistake by simply killing them all off.

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