Alien: Romulus and its possible connection to 1979’s Alien

Alien Romulus theory
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There’s a persistent theory going around about a potential connection between Alien: Romulus and the original Alien. Potential spoilers ahead…

NB: The following contains theories about Alien: Romulus that, if correct, could constitutespoilers.

It was revealed several months ago that the story in Fede Álvarez’s upcoming Alien: Romulus would take place between the events of Alien and Aliens. And as we saw in last month’s trailer, the space horror sequel certainly appears to lean more heavily on the Alien side of the equation, at least visually – the industrial, retro-futuristic corridors of its Romulus station are recognisably close to those of the Nostromo, the setting for 1979’s Alien.

There’s one theory doing the rounds, meanwhile, that suggests that Alien: Romulus’s connections to Ridley Scott’s classic could be more than skin-deep. The trailer appears to show that the Romulus orbits the same planetary system seen in Alien, and it leaves us in no doubt that the space station is absolutely teeming with xenomorphs in varying stages of their life cycle. The promo even ends with a final shot of a full-grown creature that looks almost identical to the one the late HR Giger designed for Alien.

All of which begs the question: how did the Weyland Yutani corporation wind up with yet more acid-blooded critters on one of its ships? The theory we came up with a few weeks ago in our trailer dissection was that a bunch of hapless scientists working for the company simply went down to LV-426 and bought back an egg or two.

alien romulus theory
It certainly looks familiar. Credit: 20th Century Studios.

That aforementioned theory, however, comes up with something rather different: Weyland Yutani managed to pick up the charred remains of the title creature from Alien. As pointed out by the superb YouTube channel Alien Theory, it’s a line of thinking that’s been doing the rounds in forums for some time now, but has only been galvanised by both the trailer and a tantalising shot uploaded to 20 Century Studios’ Instagram account.

It clearly shows a bunch of people – most likely scientists – clad in protective gear and carrying the remains of… something through a darkened corridor. The lighting has been calibrated to such a degree that it’s impossible to see exactly what that something is, but it doesn’t look particularly human. The way the characters in the scene are standing certainly suggests that it’s something important:

Credit: 20th Century Studios.

You’ll almost certainly recall the end of Alien: Ripley alone in her escape craft, initially thinking she’s managed to evade the Starbeast’s clutches. Suddenly realising she’s not alone, she succeeds in blasting the creature out of the airlock, and watches as it tries to clamber into a thruster. Jamming her fist down on the ignition, Ripley starts up the ship’s engines, the force of which sends the Alien tumbling off into space.

It’s almost certain that Ridley Scott and his collaborators wanted to imply that the Alien was killed by this huge blast of energy. Again, as pointed out by Alien Theory, the original shooting script, Alan Dean Foster’s novelisation, and a comic book adaptation state outright (or at least heavily suggest) that the Alien’s body was destroyed. The script, for example, tells us that the Alien’s smoking body bursts, sending “smouldering fragments” spinning off into infinity.

Credit: 20th Century Studios

Perhaps due to effects limitations or time, Scott’s finished film simply has the Alien fall away, its body seemingly unscathed – a handy final shot for any future storyteller who wanted to have the creature come back at a later date.

There are obvious problems with this theory, though – not least the question of how Weyland Yutani managed to stumble on the creature as it floated through space. There’s also the question of how long the creature could survive in a vacuum, especially given it was shot with a harpoon and then given a liberal toasting from a ship’s engine. Would it really look as shiny-toothed and seemingly unscathed as the one seen at the end of Alien: Romulus’ trailer?

These are questions that could potentially be answered or written around. It’s also possible that the Alien we see in the trailer isn’t literally the same one we first encountered in 1979, but rather its immediate descendant. Weyland Yutani retrieved the remains of its carcass from space, and then set about reverse-engineering its DNA to make more abominations – much like the company did in Alien: Resurrection, or what David did in the Alien prequels, Prometheus and Alien: Covenant.

Alternatively, the Alien: Romulus theory is completely wrong, and the xenomorph winds up on the Romulus by some other means. But director and co-writer Fede Álvarez has previously talked about the connections between his film and its earliest predecessors, and how he managed to come up with a concept that pleased the famously irascible Ridley Scott. Perhaps a movie that brings the original film’s creature back for one last prowl around a sci-fi corridor was that concept.

Alien: Romulus is out in UK cinemas on the 16th August 2024.

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