Following the huge success of Aliens, Fox was determined to begin production on a second sequel. Alien3 is legendary for its Hellish production. It went through more scripts and more directors than any other film in the Alien series. William Gibson, who by this point had become a well-known cyber punk author having won awards for his novel “The Neuromancer”, wrote the first few drafts.
According to David McIntee, in his book Beautiful Monsters, Walter Hill, David Giler and Sigourney Weaver had opted to do another two films back to back, the first of which would barely feature Ripley – Gibson’s draft has only a few pages worth of Ripley. It would mainly be Hick’s story.
The Sulaco is heading back to Earth. A malfunction in the navigation circuits leads to the ship accidentally crossing into space claimed by the Union of the Progressive People. Their space having been violated, a U.P.P interceptor docks with the Sulaco and its crew breaches the ship.
On board they find Hicks, Ripley, Newt and Bishop frozen in cyrostasis. However, in Bishop’s cryotube they find an alien egg. The face-hugger latches onto the leader of the interceptor’s crew and in their attempt to save the leader from the face-hugger, he is killed. The surviving crewmembers escape with the remains of Bishop.
We soon find ourselves on Anchorpoint, a half constructed space station. A BioLab technician, Tully, finds himself being awakened due to the arrival of the Sulaco and the W-Y weapon’s division wants the Sulaco taken in with full biohazard precautions.
The Sulaco is brought into the Anchorpoint dock and many of the marines and the biohazard team enter the ship. The group enters the hypersleep vault where they find two aliens waiting for them. Two marines are killed and a third marine kills the aliens. In the process, he also damages Ripley’s cryocapsule.
The medical crew quickly rushes to remove Ripley from the damaged capsule. Both Hicks and Newt are also revived from hypersleep. Ripley is in a coma, a result of the damaged hypersleep chamber.
For the first time we switch to the Rodina, the U.P.P’s answer to Anchorpoint. The remains of Bishop have been hooked up and his memories, including graphical representations of the aliens, are being downloaded to a computer.
On Anchorpoint, technicians are analyzing Bishop’s lower half is discovered by the dropship and some strange DNA is found on Bishop’s skin. Meanwhile Rosetti, the CO of the Marines on Anchorpoint is paid a visit by Kevin Fox and Susan Welles, members of the Military Science, Weapons Division.
Hicks is brought before the directorate of Anchorpoint as well as Fox and Welles. They inform Hicks that the Sulaco breached U.P.P space and Bishop taken. Strange, however, is that they haven’t heard anything from the U.P.P. They would have normally turned this into an incident.
Tully has been forced to sign papers saying he won’t discuss any specifics of the incident with anyone. He sets to work analyzing the material found on Bishop’s remains. Both he and Spence are amazed at how the material looks under the microscope: Like the interior of the derelict ship from Alien.
Newt is also sent back to Earth. Aware that Weyland-Yutani is attempting to develop the aliens as weapons, the U.P.P makes the decision to try to create their own weapons program using the aliens.
They decide to use the “alien spores” recovered from the kidnapped Bishop to clone and grow their own aliens for the purpose of “reprogramming them”. Aware of the obvious political risks, they decide to repair Bishop and send him back to Anchorpoint in hopes of distracting them.
Following on from Tully’s earlier discovery of alien DNA, the BioLab team demonstrates to Fox what happens when you introduce the alien DNA to human DNA. They watch, in real-time, as the alien DNA absorbs and mutates the human DNA, leaving a hybrid strain.
In a transmission to Anchorpoint, the U.P.P political officer drops the bombshell that they knew about the LV426 mission and the aliens. Shuman, the Anchorpoint political officer, denies this and the U.P.P drop the matter. They finally offer to return Bishop back to Anchorpoint, who is escorted back in a U.P.P shuttle. Upon arrival, he is ordered into quarantine.
Hicks goes to the station’s bar and finds an extremely drunk Tully there. Tully recognizes Hicks and reveals to Hicks that the aliens have made it on board the Sulaco. Remembering the papers he signed, Tully shuts up. Demanding more, Hicks finally gets Tully to agree to a private meeting.
Rosetti, Trent (head scientist), Fox and Welles all meet in private and discuss the situation regarding Bishop, the U.P.P and the DNA. There is no evidence of tampering with Bishop but they knew that the U.P.P downloaded all of Bishop’s data on the aliens. They also know the U.P.P recovered genetic samples of the aliens from Bishop. They decide to proceed with their research.
Not having signed any papers, Spence meets up with Hicks and informs him of Fox and Welles’ plan to grow the aliens. On Rodina, the U.P.P scientists have grown a chest-burster. Bishop, having been subjected to various tests, makes his way to Hicks and fills Hicks in on the alien experiments. Together, they decide they must destroy the experiments.
When Welles comes to check on the experiment, Tully shows how they’ve managed to grow miniature eggs. An accident occurs, one of the status tubes containing an egg is shattered, the alien egg is exposed. The egg opens and instead of a face-hugger, a small mist is emitted. The pair is rushed to decontamination.
Meanwhile Hicks and Bishop take the opportunity to sneak into the experiment lab and destroy all the miniature eggs. They are promptly apprehended.
During a meeting with the Anchorpoint directorate, Welles and Fox announce they’re leaving the station and taking the experiment back to Gateway. During the ensuing argument, Welles begins to transform into an alien. While attacking Fox, both are killed by a marine. Spence, who is checking up on Tully, finds him missing.
Rosetti removes Hicks and Bishop from detention, realizing he needs their help to track down Tully, fearful of a similar transformation. They track Tully to one of the unfinished sections of Anchorpoint. There they find the alien that Tully has transformed into and barely escape the encounter. Correctly assuming something similar is happening on Rodina, Anchorpoint tries and fails to get in touch with their communist counterparts.
Over 15 people on Anchorpoint have gone missing. Fearing that the new strain of Aliens may spread, they decide to contact the nearest ship, the Kansas City, evacuate and then blow the station. They receive a transmission from a surviving technician about the Rodina. She warns them of how their experiment failed and how the new strain replicates much more rapidly than expected. The transmission cuts out.
Investigating something detected by the air scrubbers, Hicks and his marines uncover a hive complete with a “mutant” Queen in it. As the aliens attack, Hicks attempts to kill the Queen. He runs out of time as the Queen’s egg sack bursts, releasing spores into the ventilation system. When he finally kills her, it’s too late: The marines around Hicks are starting to “change” as he escapes.
With the situation on Rodina worse, the U.P.P sends their own ship and destroys the station. It leaves without even contacting Anchorpoint. The situation is not good on Anchorpoint. Over 50 people are missing, starting to transform due to the spores.
With a USMC ship on the way, Rosetti is determined to get the lifeboats but Hicks refuses to in case they arrive too late. He’d rather destroy the station so that the new form aliens cannot spread. Due to damage incurred when the Queen was killed, the station’s fusion reactor can only be set to detonate manually. Bishop volunteers. The air scrubbers were also damaged during the attack on the Queen. They have only a few days of air left with a fire raging down below.
On their way to the escape pods, the group finds their path blocked by a resin “plug”. In order to get to the lifeboats, the group is forced to take a roundabout route through the depths of Anchorpoint, loosing various people along the way. When they finally make it to the boat bay, they find their way once again blocked by countless aliens. They’re eventually forced towards an airlock and decide to try to get to the lifeboats via the hull. At this point, only Hicks, Spence and Jackson are left.
The group makes their way to the entrance of the boats, followed by a swarm of aliens. Bishop also exits from a nearby airlock and adds his firepower to the battle. With no way into the boat and with Jackson killed, the group retreats along the hull. A U.P.P interceptor appears, piloted by a Vietnamese commando. The survivors of Anchorpoint make it into the interceptor, which escapes as the Anchorpoint’s fusion reactor detonates.
Adrift and damaged, Bishop determines that neither Spence, Hicks or the commando are infected but that it is imperative for the aliens homeworld to be discovered and destroyed. “This is a Darwinian universe, Hicks. Will the alien be the ultimate survivor?”
Hicks – Following his experiences on Acheron, Hicks’s determination to stop the aliens is the primary driving force of his character in Gibson’s draft. He remains as the straightforward marine, set on doing what is right. We learn nothing new about his history or his character.
Jackson – Jackson is a straightshooting woman whose primary duty is the co-ordination of much of the activity aboard Anchorpoint. She is based in Operations (Hicks nicknames her Ops) and as such is very knowledgeable in regards to Anchorpoint.
Spence – Spence works in the Tissue Lab on the alien DNA experiment. She is actually the one who informs Hicks what is happening on the station. Spence is a kind and compassionate woman who formed a bond with Newt. A respectful relationship develops between Spence and Hicks.
Rosetti – Colonel Rosetti is the commander of Anchorpoint’s military operations. He’s a very staunch by-the-books kind of leader. Initially he is very caring for his marine compliment, not wanting the experiment brought aboard Anchorpoint. But as the situation degrades into chaos, his only concern becomes his survival. During their escape, Rosetti eventually succumbs to the spores and transforms into an alien. Hicks kills the transformed Rosetti.
Susan Welles – Along with Kevin Fox, Welles is sent to Anchorpoint following the retrieval of the Sulaco. She works for Military Science, Weapons Division. Like all corporate drones, she is cold and cares only about the objectives at hand. Following exposure to spores released by the miniature eggs grown by the Anchorpoint labs, Welles actually transforms into an alien (called New Beast in the script). A marine with a flamethrower kills her.
Bishop – The top half of Bishop is initially recovered by the U.P.P with Anchorpoint getting the lower half. After having his memory downloaded, Bishop is return to Anchorpoint with a new (and less advanced) lower half. Upon returning, Bishop was very concerned with any hidden programs he might have had installed on him.
Realizing the threat the new strain of aliens posed to the human population of the galaxy, Bishop was willing to sacrifice the station and those on board it for the greater good. It showed some flexibility in his programming. Bishop also set the reactor to blow manually, escaped an encounter with a Queen and survived to make it to the interceptor at the end.
The primary location of the draft is a space station called Anchorpoint. Described as being the size of a small moon, Anchorpoint is still in the midst of construction with many sections of the hull exposed to space. Although Anchorpoint does have a military presence, the station is actually under the authority of the Colonial Administration: Civilians.
Anchorpoint has numerous lab locations, an “eco-module” that is basically a small pocket within the station that has been terraformed into a rain forest like environment. The station also has its own “mall” which is a massive section of the station featuring locations such as bars. Of particular usefulness is the “bubble”, a specially designed room for diplomatic and private meetings. It is bug proof and the only place on the station one can truly talk without fear of being overheard.
Anchorpoint is powered by a fusion package the size of a Volkswagen bus. In dire events, the fusion package can be set to overload remotely or manually at the package’s control booth. The station is also designed to be self sufficient with its own hydroponics lab to provide nutritional substances.
Gibson introduces us to the Union of Progressive People (U.P.P), the communists of the Alien franchise. They are a faction composed of Russians, Eastern Asians and Germans. The U.P.P also has their own deep space research station called the Rodina, located in U.P.P controlled space somewhere between Acheron and Anchorpoint. According to the dialogue, the U.P.P and Weyland-Yutani have been in a state of war since Hicks was born.
The U.P.P is also described as being behind in terms of technology. When it is discovered that the U.P.P are also experimenting with the Aliens, it is feared their current technological state won’t be advanced enough to contain them.
Rather than the traditional representation of the aliens from the previous two films, Gibson’s aliens revolve around DNA and spores. The initial egg from the film is grown in the entrails of Bishop due to the Queen depositing genetic material when she tore him apart. The DNA is then harvested and cloned by both Anchorpoint and Rodina.
This is where things differ. Both strains follow a completely unique path from here. When the Rodina grows and cultivates the DNA, it grows into a fetal chest-burster and then presumably into the full-grown adults.
However, the Anchorpoint strain grows into miniature eggs which when hatched, rather than releasing a face-hugger eject spores, which infect the nearby humans and mutate them. In some cases, the infected mutate into a full-grown alien, in others give birth to multiple chest-burster’s. The multiple chest-burster effect is also seen when victims are bitten by the aliens and survive the encounter.
After the initial outbreak of the spores, the marines discover a Queen and a hive at some of the air ventilation fans. She also developed an egg sac but rather than containing eggs, it actually contains a massive amount of the spores that she releases into the ventilation system, infecting the entire station.
The spore is capable of transforming smaller creatures into aliens as well. In one instance, a transformed lemur is found in the artificial woodland on the station. It is even capable of transforming vegetation into something similar to the resin. The spore seems to take different lengths of time to transform different people, meaning there could be some natural defence to the transformation. It also appears people can be immune to the spore and its effects.
Under a microscope, Xenomorph cells resemble the interior of the Derelict from Alien.
- Takes place four years after Aliens.
- There is an alien egg in the entrails of Bishop and two full-grown aliens in the hypersleep vault.
- The Queen purposefully deposited genetic material at the end of Aliens.
- Power-loaders can be controlled manually.
- Hicks takes Ripley’s comatose form, seals her in the hypersleep capsule of a lifeboat, and launches the boat, presumably heading towards Earth.
Like most of the early Alien 3 scripts, Gibson’s first draft suffers from a case of going over the top. With Aliens having taken the Xenomorph’s further with the introduction of the Queen and the Hive structures, many of the early drafts suffer due to the writers trying to evolve the series with their own unique take on the creatures.
With Gibson’s first draft, this was done through the inclusion of the Alien spores and DNA. While an interesting concept, it ultimately doesn’t fit with the franchise and is the major downfall of the script.
On the other hand, the expansion of the human side of the future was an interesting and welcome addition. We now know whom the USMC has been fighting against and why the Company is so eager for the Aliens as weapons.