The Alien/Predator Expanded Universe Is Even More Complicated
Since the early '90s, Dark Horse comics have held the licenses to produce both Alien and Predator comics. The publisher, one of the most long-standing rivals to the big two of Marvel and DC, has developed its popularity on the back of a combination of franchise deals and original creations. The Legend of Zelda, Avatar and The Legend of Korra and Halo are among the well-known properties the house publishes extended universe work within. Alien and Predator have, over the last 25 or so years, been two of their most consistent sellers with a set of mini-series and one-shots across of myriad of settings that drawn a dedicated fanbase.
It's unlikely Disney will be too keen on letting a rival brand to one of this biggest sub-divisions, Marvel, make money off characters they own. Granted the comics part of Marvel is a meager part of a much bigger machine now, but why let someone else profit off a job you could be doing yourself with full control over all aspects. Especially when that rival brand has been working with your other competition, as both Alien and Predator have crossed over with DC characters, including Batman and Superman, on multiple occasions.
Dark Horse have built a respectable expanded universe for the worlds of the xenomorphs and the predators. They've explored different aspects of their origins and told chilling, distinct stories that have fleshed out different characters and arcs that the movie series may never touch on. Not only would losing that stream of storytelling be sad, it's unclear where it'd even fit in assuming the property rights were at Disney.
Marvel comics have never really been big on darker, horror-centric stories. Yes, they've explored the area in the past and created adult-oriented work, the Marvel MAX line being the biggest example, but they've resisted ever leaning too heavily on terrifying, gory or otherwise violent stories. There is a glimmer of opportunity in that having this small but eager audience for Alien and Predator comics could lead to Marvel doing a more mature imprint again, perhaps resurrecting the dormant MAX, and playing to an adult audience. The Punisher, Daredevil and Jessica Jones could join them to form a stable of R-rated books, they being a reflection of their Netflix counter-parts while Alien and Predator begin a new canon in their home forevermore. Such a thing might actually help Marvel attract a broader readership as the constant influx of big events and convoluted crossovers in their books over the last few years has caused a dip in buyers and a bit of an identity crisis for the comics house.
Is The A Future For Alien or Predator Away From Movies?
There's always potential in these franchises making the jump from movies to TV. The Marvel/Netflix shows have done very well for all involved (or so the limited information available on their viewership tells us), and their popularity shows that people will respond to that more complex content. The two otherworldly hunters would fit right in that tone, especially in the lawless environment that is television production right now where there's so little restriction on what form a series can take, attracting some of the most respected names in filmmaking in the process. Smaller budget but much less pressure on immediate returns and much more freedom to do what the narrative needs and not what executives think might sell better.
These are uncertain times. Fans wanted to see X-Men and Fantastic Four back in the hands of Marvel, but nobody quite thought Disney would just buy their owners wholesale to do it. Like both Lucasfilm and Marvel Studios before it, 20th Century Fox is surely in for some restructuring in certain areas as Disney cast out the dead-weight. It could be we see a rebirth of both Alien and Predator in the coming years, with renewed interest and cohesive visions from talented filmmakers. Or, like Michael Fassbender's David in Alien: Covenant, they're left all alone on a deserted planet with only the remnants of the civilization that once was for company. We'd be safe from a third Alien Vs. Predator, at least.
- The Predator (2018) release date: Sep 14, 2018