The Resident Evil series, starring Milla Jovovich, isn’t just a modestly successful string of B-movie video game adaptations. It’s a full-on franchise phenomenon that has earned over $900 million at the worldwide box office so far. With the latest and supposedly last installment — The Final Chapter — about to hit theaters, there’s no doubt that the series will be propelled to nearly $1 billion and beyond. It’s the biggest video game-based franchise and the biggest horror franchise ever, but it’s also pretty goddamn confusing.
To get you up to speed before the final installment of Resident Evil, here’s everything you need to know about the Resident Evil movies.
Resident Evil (2002)
Hell hath no fury like A.I. scorned.
The first installment of the series opens up with main character Alice (Jovovich) having a seriously bad case of amnesia, but once she finds out the truth, she’d probably prefer the memory loss. It turns out that a major bio-weapons outbreak of a substance called the T-Virus occurred at an evil company called the Umbrella Corporation in Raccoon City. To try and curtail a global outbreak, an omnipotent A.I. in control of the Umbrella Corp facility, called the Red Queen, kills everything in the facility via nerve gas.
The gas is the cause of Alice’s amnesia, but most of the others in the facility are killed and resurrected by the virus as vicious zombie-like mutants. It’s a big undead problem, and Alice tries to high-tail it to safety with a group of commandos, including badass Rain (Michelle Rodriguez), and Matt, a former cop. Just as they fight their way through gross zombie monsters with names like the Licker to get to safety on a train, Rain is killed, and Matt is bit. He’s then taken away by Umbrella’s scientists for human research, and Alice is left with another case of amnesia before waking up to realize the T-Virus has probably gotten loose.
Resident Evil: Apocalypse (2004)
To try and stop the spread of the virus, Umbrella Corporation seal off all exits out of Raccoon City, with folks like Alice and her new friend Jill Valentine (Sienna Guillory) inside. The plan is to nuke it in the bud. But there’s a way out…maybe! The T-Virus’s creator, Dr. Charles Ashford, claims he’ll show them the exit as long as Alice helps rescue his daughter, Angela, who is trapped somewhere among the deadly zombies.
Jill and Alice — who has somehow gained superhuman agility and strength because of Umbrella experiments — head out to find her but find abandoned Umbrella commandos like Carlos Olivera (Oded Fehr) instead. They also come across Nemesis, aka Alice’s old friend Matt, in hulking mutated form, and wouldn’t you know, Angela in the process, too. Angela reveals her father injected her with the T-virus because Ashford wanted to cure her genetic disease, but it was co-opted by Umbrella for military use. Alice is eventually killed in a helicopter crash while escaping the nuclear blast meant to ‘sanitize’ Raccoon City but is resurrected by an Umbrella scientist named Dr. Sam Isaacs (Iain Glen) and sprung from captivity with newly found superpowers by Jill and Carlos.
Resident Evil: Extinction (2007)
Against humanity’s better wishes, the T-Virus has gone global. And instead of focusing on a cure, Umbrella Corporation has cloned Alice in hopes that they can replicate her superpowers — including telekinesis. In the meantime, Alice, Carlos, Raccoon City survivors, and a convoy leader named Claire Redfield (Ali Larter) cruise around a Mad Max like wasteland and stopover in a ruined Las Vegas on the way to an alleged safe haven in Alaska. As luck would have it, Isaacs unleashed a new strain of super zombie beasts from his Umbrella facility, also located in Vegas.
Isaacs is bitten in a showdown with the convoy, and after attempting to inject himself with massive amounts of an anti-virus, he mutates into a Nemesis-like zombie mutant beast called a Tyrant, which has similar powers to Alice. As she helps everyone escape via helicopter to the safe haven — because in the Resident Evil series helicopters are so reliable — Carlos is bitten and sacrifices himself for the group. Alice stays behind at the Umbrella facility to take care of the Tyrant and enlists her clones to create an army to go after top Umbrella operatives.
Resident Evil: Afterlife (2010)
Why wasn’t this one called Resident Evil: Attack of the Clones? The fourth installment initially trades in the dusty Nevada desert for the bright lights of Tokyo, where Alice and her clone army busts into Umbrella HQ to go after the guy who supposedly started it all: Albert Wesker. But Wesker takes her on his helicopter and gives her an injection that strips her of her powers. When the copter crashes (again with the helicopters), Alice is supposedly the lone survivor and attempts to make her way to the safe haven called Arcadia, only to discover it isn’t there.
Instead, the survivors wander the Alaskan wilderness and fend off zombies — or worse. Alice finds her friend Claire in Alaska, but she has to be broken free from an Umbrella mind control device. They flee south and make their way to L.A., this time to spring Claire’s brother Chris out of a prison there. Chris tells them the Arcadia is actually a tanker ship that makes its way around the coast to pick up survivors, and when they find it, the seafaring safe haven is anything but. Wesker shows up to explain that the ship is an Umbrella research facility doing evil experiments on the survivors like Claire. He pumps himself up with some superpower-giving T-Virus injections and attacks Alice, only to be blown up by a bomb when he tries to escape.
Just when she and the survivors try to claim the Arcadia ship for themselves, an Umbrella brainwashed Claire — last seen in Apocalypse — leads a group of warships their way.
Resident Evil: Retribution (2012)
The appropriately titled penultimate entry in the series not only gets most of the Resident Evil band back together, it keeps things short and sweet and bloody. Here’s a bullet point list for your zombie-loving pleasure:
- Alice escapes captivity in Jill’s ship with the help of a bit of Red Queen hacking by Wesker who turned his back on Umbrella to go rogue.
- Clones of Carlos and Rain turn up to make Alice’s time personally difficult, but she also befriends the clone of a little girl named Becky that may or may not be her daughter.
- Alice fights Jill on a submarine, takes out the Umbrella mind-control device, and heads to Wesker’s new headquarters (in the White House, no less) to find out the new plan of attack.
- Wesker gives Alice a T-Virus injection, reinstating her superpowers and giving her the objective to take out the rest of the infected who surround the Oval Office.