For a franchise that revolves almost entirely around extraterrestrial killing machines, the Alien series sure is preoccupied with sex — and by preoccupied, we mean that there are hundreds of intergalactic penises and vaginas sticking out at every turn.
Sure, H. R. Giger's kinky alien designs may have kickstarted the franchise's obsession with bumping uglies, but a new clip from the latest instalment, Alien Covenant, reveals that Ridley Scott's return to the series contains a far more wholesome approach to sexuality, one that finally incorporates #LGBT characters into the mix.
'Alien: Covenant' Will Feature A Progressive Gay Couple On Board The Ship
In the 'Last Supper' prologue, fans are introduced to the franchise's first #gay couple, who playfully arm-wrestle and then share a kiss while the rest of the crew continue to enjoy their party. Played by Nathaniel Dean and Demián Bichir, the two characters appear to be refreshingly free of the usual stereotypes attributed to gay characters in typical sci-fi or #horror movies.
Unsurprisingly, the internet has been quick to respond. While some are celebrating this progressive representation of homosexuality in a Hollywood blockbuster, others have criticized the fact that a gay couple have been included on a colonization mission.
What such arguments fail to acknowledge is that these two men may only represent a small addition to a larger colony. Even if that's not the case, the pair could still be useful as sperm donors, helping to rear other people's children while continuing to contribute whatever technical skills they possess onboard.
Speaking to Screenrant, the two actors in question had this to say about their roles;
“We are all couples on this ship, all kinds of couples, even men and men. For me that’s a beautiful side of the story when you can have these two almost iconic macho types being together and loving each other and being a part of keeping everyone alive... “It’s really great in the future… The thing within this film is that we don’t really italicize it. You know, it’s just a thing, they’re just two men who love each other and they’re happy to be bad-ass soldiers.”
Showcasing a gay couple in such a natural light is a huge step for Hollywood filmmaking, but you may be surprised to learn that Dean and Bichir's couple aren't the first characters to appear in the #Alien franchise who deviate from the heterosexual norm.
Ripley & Lambert Were Deliberately Coded As Gay
First released back in 1979, Ridley Scott's groundbreaking Alien movie became famous throughout academic circles for the movie's complex exploration of gender and sexuality. To this day, fans still debate the representation of everything from the alien's anatomy to the underlying relationships between members of the crew.
However, one theory that the cast confirmed in the 2003 Director's Cut commentary concerned the sexuality of Ellen Ripley herself. During a particularly lively chat, actors Veronica Cartwright and Tom Skerritt revealed that Sigourney Weaver's heroine was originally supposed to share a #lesbian relationship with Joan Lambert. While this was never portrayed explicitly in the final cut of Alien, a deleted scene left on the cutting room floor depicts a physical undercurrent between the two which makes further sense in this context.
However, Weaver's iconic protagonist isn't the only female character whose sexuality remains questionable in the Alien franchise.
Vasquez Has Become A LGBT Role Model
Ripley may be the ultimate heroine of the Alien franchise, but anyone who's seen Vasquez in James Cameron's blockbuster sequel will know that the butch warrior comes a very close second.
Portrayed with many of the stereotypical traits usually associated with gay women, Vasquez became an icon of '80s cinema, creating a legacy that many homosexuals would continue to idolise to this very day.
Funnily enough though, actor Jenette Goldstein argues that the sexuality of Vasquez is far more ambiguous than that. Speaking to LA Weekly, the action hero discussed her character in more detail;
“She’s an outsider — she was just who she was. With Vasquez, I never said she was straight or gay, because to her it was nobody’s business... A lot of gay women come up and say, ‘Oh my God, when I saw you, and you had a masculine look to you, I saw myself. But I had straight women coming up to me with the same thing. Someone was going through breast cancer, and she told me that with each round of chemo she would think of Vasquez. A gay man from Guatemala came up to me, and he said, ‘I identify so much with her,’ but he was very feminine. Vasquez is universal.”
Goldstein has a point. After all, the sexuality of Vasquez is never mentioned throughout the entire running time of Aliens, so fans have instead interpreted her orientation as they see fit. Regardless though, whether the female marine was written as gay, straight, bisexual or asexual, Vasquez and her ambiguous sexuality remain a key talking point for LGBT fans even today.
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It may have taken the Alien franchise 38 years to finally portray homosexuality out in the open, but we couldn't be more excited to see Dean and Bichir's couple together in Covenant. While we're yet to watch the movie as a whole, their portrayal was remarkably realistic in the footage that we've seen so far, focusing on hand-holding and cuddling rather than stereotyping or even de-sexualizing the couple entirely.
The problem is that we all know what happens to minorities in horror films. While we have no issue with either or both characters dying if that's what the script calls for, let's just hope that they're not butchered just for being gay when Covenant premieres on May 19. If that's the case, then game over, man. Game over!