William Gibson’s script for Alien III (not Alien 3) resurfaces every now and then as the socially relevant threequel that never was, one that involved a Cold War in space and xenomorphs recast as bio-weapons.
Vulture’s Abraham Riesman got in touch with William Gibson for a feature published on May 15 about the history of the doomed film. Gibson is perhaps best known for his debut cyberpunk novel Neuromancer (1984) and its well-received sequel, Count Zero (1986), but execs from 20th Century Fox tapped him to write a screenplay for the third Alien movie back in 1987.
“I had long had, since first viewing Alien, in fact, this sense that the xenomorph was a bio-weapon,” Gibson said. In the screenplay — which you can read online — an airborne mutation of the xenomorph virus wreaks havoc on a space station, causing “blind screaming chaos” in the form of “New Beasts,” which are basically human-xenomorph hybrids. Gibson mainly wondered what might happen if a xenomorph gestated inside something other than a human and explored that with his story.
Also at play were communist and capitalist empires jockeying for control in space, and it’s the unifying threat of xenomorphs that ultimately brings mankind together.
Gibson’s end product was not as “inventive” as producers wanted it to be, and rather than a relevant, timely, and perfectly adequate third movie, they opted for Alien 3 — which was a poorly-received action movie that had little to do with Alien III, featuring Ridley combatting an alien on a prison colony.
Alien: Covenant, which does incorporate some of the same themes of “Xenomorph-as-bioweapon” that III would’ve employed, lands in theaters on May 19, 2017.