When James Cameron stepped into the director’s chair for the 1986 follow-up to Ridley Scott’s chest-bursting franchise starter Alien, he brought along some distinct changes. Among them was the clever pluralizing of the original film’s title – denoting both its status as a sequel, as well as the inclusion of more than one of the terrifying xenomorphs that wreaked havoc aboard the Nostromo – and the tagline “This time it’s war.” The second bit further distinguished Cameron’s effort, as it introduced the idea of the Colonial Marines to the series.
Although Scott has returned to the Alien franchise, going back in time – as far as the films are concerned – directing two additional installments that take place before his 1979 effort, he has yet to dabble in the concept of the intergalactic armed forces. In Prometheus, Scott mostly played around with a few heady concepts, like the origin of human life on Earth and the role artificial intelligence plays in humankind’s future. And in the upcoming Alien: Covenant, the director reportedly plans to make a return to the franchise’s sci-fi-horror roots. And now, thanks to a new image, it looks like Scott may finally have a chance to include some version of the Colonial Marine in one of his Alien films.
The image comes courtesy of the Alien Anthology Twitter account, along with some potentially cryptic numbers. The digits, 220512052104 may have some larger meaning in the context of the film, or they may simply be a timestamp meant to denote when the image was taken – which means it’s either 22:05 on December 5, 2104 or May 12, 2104, depending on how the date was intended to be formatted. Regardless of what month the image was taken in, it appears that the individuals depicted therein are well-armed and ready to go on a bug hunt.
Then again, the image could be anything from a confirmation of Marines having a role in the film to a Weyland-Yutani recruitment image – promising adventurous young men and women the chance to tour the cosmos and meet interesting new life forms… when they attach themselves to someone’s face. While it’s unclear what the well-equipped individuals are responding to, it appears as though they are at least in an Earth-like environment, if not on the Earth itself. The dusty atmosphere – likely kicked up by the large vehicle with the high beams – and the vegetation certainly makes it appear as though the group is traipsing around on our planet and not some far off destination.
This appearance of armed personnel clearly ready to engage in combat raises some interesting questions about the tone and direction of the film. As Michael Fassbender said recently, the movie definitely aims to be scarier than Prometheus, making it more of a return to the classic Alien storyline of people being hunted by a frightening monster. But the arrival of these agents or Marines suggests Covenant may have aspirations similar to Aliens as well. If that proves to be the case, an amalgam of Scott’s frightening first foray and Cameron’s more militaristic sensibilities would certainly make for a memorable chapter in the xenomorph saga.