April 26th is now officially Alien day, based on the home of Xenomorphs, moon LV-426. So, how did you spend yours? Personally, I spent mine trying to untangle the confusing web of prequel, sequel, and parallequel (?) narratives that are spread across the franchise.
If you're feeling a little confused, you're forgiven. Ridley Scott's upcoming Alien: Covenant is a sequel to Prometheus, which in itself was a prequel to the original Alien, which had three sequels: Aliens, Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection. That's not to mention murmurings of Neil Blomkamp's Alien 5, an alternative sequel that, if made, would rewrite history from Alien 3 onwards.
It's dizzying, but look no further for clarity on where things stand. Below, we explore the chronology of events, along with an in-universe timeline (note: deliberately disregarding the Alien vs. Predator franchise):
*Warning: Spoilers for the entire Alien franchise await*
Year 2091: 'Prometheus' (2012)
Ridley Scott, who directed the original Alien (1979), returned to the franchise to produce the first prequel (and also a potential link to Blade Runner?).
The USCSS Prometheus voyage to moon LV-223 begins in 2091, and the crew arrive in 2093. During this time in the Alien universe, Ellen Ripley is born in 2092.
Year 2104: 'Alien: Covenant' (2017)
The latest release in the franchise, also directed by Scott, is set 10 years after the events of Prometheus, around 2103. In typical Alien style, the film will focus on the crew aboard the colony ship, Covenant, as it discovers what they believe to be an unexplored paradise. Emphasis on "what they believe to be" — we all know where this is going.
Year 2104 - 2122: 'Alien: Covenant' Sequel (2019?)
Ridley Scott has previously spoken of making more than one follow up to Prometheus, eventually joining the prequel story arc with the original, which is set in 2122. Near the release of Covenant, Scott revealed he has already worked on the script to a sequel, with a release expected in a few years. The #AlienCovenant sequel will bridge the gap between Covenant and Alien, although a few more installments are expected before the timelines fully meet.
Year 2122: 'Alien' (1979)
The original classic, #Alien, sits neatly in the middle of the chronology of the story so far. During 2122, Spaceship Nostromo is returning to Earth, with Ellen Ripley aboard, before it is interrupted by the distress signal that triggers the events of the movie.
Year 2179: 'Aliens' (1986)
Ripley is discovered after being in space stasis for 57 years. In the same year, and the same movie, we're introduced to popular characters Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn), and Rebecca "Newt" Jorden (Carrie Henn).
The film ends with Hicks, Newt and Ripley being sent into hypersleep on Emergency Evacuation Vehicle (EEV) unit 2650 for the journey back to Earth.
Year 2179: 'Alien 3' (1992)
At the beginning of David Fincher's somewhat controversial movie, the unit 2650 crash lands on Fiorina "Fury” 161 facility, killing Hicks and Newt. At the end of the film, Ripley sacrifices herself, but genetic samples of her are collected.
Year 2379: 'Alien: Resurrection' (1997)
Flash-forward 200 years and the film earns its title by cloning Ellen Ripley, using the genetic samples that were collected at the end of Alien 3. Chronologically, these are the latest events in the franchise.
Year 2179 - 2379: 'Alien 5'?
Neill Blomkamp's proposed Alien 5 seemed to be gaining traction last year, helped largely by Sigourney Weaver's enthusiasm for the project. Weaver confirmed the plot would "run parallel" to Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, disregarding those two films and imagining a different future for Ripley.
However, this news appears to have taken a hit recently. Although Scott confirmed that although the idea was being pursued at some point, it didn't "evolve," and when asked if he thought Alien 5 was likely, he responded: "I don't think so. No."