It may feel like we haven't heard much from James Cameron recently, but that's because the legendary filmmaker's working harder than ever right now, developing, not one, not two, but four sequels to the multi-billion dollar grossing movie Avatar.
No other directors are given that much freedom to pursue their dream projects, but then there's no one else quite like James Cameron, who established his reputation with a series of iconic movies that have redefined the cinematic landscape over the past three decades.
It's been 30 years since Cameron directed the incredible follow up to Alien and 25 years since Terminator 2 changed the way we view blockbuster movies, so while we wait for the King of Sequels to finish work on Avatar 2, let's pit Cameron's two most iconic villains together in a grudge match for the ages, because, let's face it; reading this article sure beats the hell out of whatever adulting task you've been trying to put off by clicking on this post in the first place.
In the interest of fairness, only the original Terminator film will be considered in this contest, as Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 is transformed into a hero for the sequel and we're pitting Cameron's two greatest villains against one another. Hasta la vista Terminator 2: Judgement Day.
Aliens Vs The Terminator: Awards
Industry awards are clearly subjective to a point, but the amount of accolades a movie receives can certainly be a strong indicator of both a film's success and its quality.
Science fiction is notoriously overlooked by the majority of most film institutes, particularly the Academy Awards, so it came as a huge surprise when Aliens won two out of six Oscars back in 1986, including an unprecedented nomination for Sigourney Weaver in the role of leading actress.
In contrast, The Terminator wasn't even considered for the technical awards that the likes of the Oscars sometimes throw towards the bigger sci-fi films, despite the huge influence that The Terminator had on blockbuster filmmaking. On the plus side, Cameron's first instalment in the franchise did sweep the Saturn Awards, winning three times with four more nominations too.
Aliens Vs The Terminator: Rotten Tomatoes
Critically, both Aliens and The Terminator are landmark films that are now widely regarded as essential Hollywood movies, endlessly dissected by a variety of critics and academics alike.
Both of Cameron's classic films received almost universal praise upon their release, but The Terminator has the edge over Aliens in this regard, scoring 100% on Rotten Tomatoes, while the Alien sequel scored a still impressive 98%. Here's what the critics had to say in more detail:
The Terminator - Critics Consensus:
"With its impressive action sequences, taut economic direction, and relentlessly fast pace, it's clear why The Terminator continues to be an influence on sci-fi and action flicks."
Aliens - Critics Consensus:
"While Alien was a marvel of slow-building, atmospheric tension, Aliens packs a much more visceral punch, and features a typically strong performance from Sigourney Weaver."
As the difference is negligible, it's worth factoring the audience ratings in too, where The Terminator scored 88% compared to Aliens 94%. This is a particularly close one to call, but there can only be one winner here.
Winner: The Terminator
Aliens Vs The Terminator: Box Office Earnings
Awards and critical ratings can still be rather subjective, so it's also worth comparing the box office earnings of both The Terminator and Aliens to see who came out on top.
Over its entire lifespan, The Terminator grossed $38,371,200, an impressive figure for the year that it was released, but in 1986, Aliens earned $85,160,248 just two years later. Whether the two films are compared via adjusted or unadjusted earnings, Aliens still ranks as Cameron's fifth most successful film of all time, beating out The Terminator, which stands at a still respectable seventh place among the legendary directors filmography.
Aliens may be the clear winner here, but to be fair, The Terminator was Cameron's first successful blockbuster, which means that it didn't benefit from the directors fame at that point. Terminator 2: Judgement Day fared far better than both films, earning $204,843,345 to place third among Cameron's movies. However, we're interested in the villains today, so maybe the T-800 should have thought twice before turning good for the sequel.
Aliens Vs The Terminator: Who Would Win In A Fight?
We've talked a lot about the way that people perceive both of these films and how they fared commercially too, but when it comes down to it, which one of Cameron's most iconic villains would win in a head to head fight?
If the T-800 took on a solo xenomorph, he would ultimately emerge the victor. Sure, the xenomorphs are faster and more agile, but Terminators are able to repair themselves and they're just as effective fighting at long range as they are in close quarters. If a pack of xenomorphs tried to take down a Terminator, that could be another matter, but then that wouldn't exactly be a fair fight.
One thing worth bearing in mind though is that the xenomorphs weren't originally created by Cameron, although he did play a huge part in bringing the Alien Queen to life, so perhaps it would be fairer to pit the T-800 against one of those instead.
Although this would be a tougher fight to call, it's likely that the Terminators electronic brain would still devise a way to take the Alien Queen down effectively, despite her larger size and strength. The T-800 has proven time and time again that it will keep gunning for its target until it's destroyed completely and we don't imagine that the Alien Queen keeps a vat of molten steel handy just on the off chance that one attacks.
Winner: The Terminator
While both of these iconic villains and the films themselves both deserve iconic status, there can only be one winner today and if we're going to break this draw down into fighting capabilities, it looks like The Terminator has the edge overall. Sorry Aliens. It's game over man, GAME OVER!
If you feel that everyone's favorite xenomorphs were cheated here, let us make it up to you with 30 facts that celebrate the 30th anniversary of Cameron's groundbreaking movie and then check out a clip of the knife trick that launched a thousand visits to A&E.