Alien director Ridley Scott has been talking about how tough it is to replace the Xenomorph in the franchise - and he may be indicating that's no longer the plan. Scott's Alien prequels have proven divisive so far. They've been praised for their rich visuals and for trying to take the long-running series in new directions, but they've also been criticized for featuring unlikable characters and having stories riddled with plot holes.
Prometheus was originally a straight-ahead Alien prequel, but during development Scott had it retooled to be something closer to a spin-off. He hasn't been shy about his view the Xenomorph itself has "almost run out," due to decades of overexposure through sequels, comics and toys. He thinks the design is no longer scary, and last year he revealed he wants to replace the creature with Michael Fassbender's A.I. David as the new antagonist of the franchise.
Scott sounded pretty adamant the series needed to evolve past the creature, but in a new interview with Yahoo! about the future of the Alien series, he admits replacing HR Giger's design is a tough job:
In my career, which has been pretty long, there’s only been, with the greatest respect for the people I’ve worked with, two real, real originals. Funnily enough, I came across a guy called HR Giger and if I hadn’t got that monster you would not have had that movie. I saw the drawing – the drawing was drawn for the book, not the film – and I was so kind of taken, I flew to Switzerland where he lived because he didn’t want to get the plane as he was scared of flying.
The director is keenly aware if it wasn't for the design of the Xenomorph, the first Alien movie wouldn't have worked - and it might be worth holding on to after all:
It wouldn’t have been the same movie. Whilst the cast was wonderful, with Sigourney [Weaver] and Harry [Dean Stanton] and those people, but without that eighth passenger it wouldn’t have been the same film. What I’m trying to say is that there are rarities, there are those [ideas] that occur once in the while, not that often, but when they do grab them and hang on to them.
While far from a confirmation the Xenomorph will return for Scott's potential third prequel, he at least seems to have warmed to the idea. Scott's comments about replacing the titular monster in its own series proved controversial with fans, and it's doubtful the studio would be keen to get rid of such an iconic monster either. The third act of Alien: Covenant featured the return of the Xenomorph, but it was clear Scott's heart wasn't totally into that section; it lacked the tension and menace he brought to the 1979 original, and the CGI used to render the beast was distractingly weak.
Considering the underperformance of Alien: Covenant and the overall mixed reception to Scott's new movies, the director may not get the chance to make another entry. The series appears to be on hold while Scott works on other projects, and there's talk of a soft reboot. While Scott's prequels are flawed, it would be a shame if Fassbender's David - the undoubted highlight of the new Alien movies - didn't get proper resolution.