When people talk about science fiction franchises, most conversations start at either “Star Wars” or “Star Trek” and go from there. Even though there are many other stories in space that fans can get into, many people think that it’s a Trek-Wars world that we’re living in.
One of those ‘other’ franchises is “Alien.” Initially, it was a one-off film that premiered in 1979. “Alien” was unique as it blended science fiction with horror in a way that stunned audiences. In many ways, the world director Ridley Scott created in “Aliens” is the opposite of Gene Roddenberry’s “Star Trek.” Still, there is undoubtedly a connection between these two massive franchises.
The Original Trailer for ‘Alien’
Scott has admitted that he owes a great deal to “Star Trek,” which helped usher in a new fandom genre beyond the B-movies of the 50s and 60s.
“I never realized that the awakening of the science fiction universe, over many, many films, would get so large,” Scott told Den of Geek in a 2017 interview. “You can’t thank ‘Star Wars’ for that; you can thank, God bless them, ‘Star Trek.’ You’ve got all that. It’s evolved and made another form of entertainment.”
“There’s no reason why ‘Alien’ should now not be on the same level for fans as ‘Star Trek’ and ‘Star Wars,’” Scott told the Toronto Sun in 2018. “So I think the next step as to where we go is, do we sustain the ‘Alien’ (series) with the evolution of the beast, or do we reinvent something else? I think you need to have an evolution on this famous beast because he’s the best monster ever, really.”
‘Alien’ TV Series
The next logical step for “Alien” to approach the level of Trek or Wars would be for the story to continue on television. That is precisely what Noah Hawley is working on now. Fans will remember that Hawley was briefly in charge of the next “Star Trek” film, which might not have included the cast from the Kelvin Film series — which includes Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, and Zoë Saldana.
While there were some stories from the “Star Trek: The Original Series” era that sounds a whole lot like the premise of “Alien” or “Aliens,” it was “The Next Generation” which was impacted the most by Scott’s story.
When creating the new crew for the Enterprise-D, Roddenberry was inspired by two characters from the “Aliens” franchise — Bishop and Jenette Vasquez. Bishop (Lance Henriksen) was an android and may have been the inspiration for Mr. Data (Brent Spiner). This should be categorized as just one of Roddenberry’s thoughts when creating Data. He was also meant to be the opposite of Spock. As Memory Alpha explains, Spock was half-human and wanted to be nothing like humans. At the same time, Data was created by humans and aspired to be more human.
Jenette Vasquez was a member of the Space Marines who battled the Alien Xenomorphs. Vasquez (played by Jenette Goldstein). She held her own in the battles against the creatures. Roddenberry must have liked the character because he created Lt. Macha Hernandez, who was “a 26-year-old woman of unspecified Latin descent who serves as the starship’s security chief.”
Interestingly, Deanna Troi actress Marina Sirtis initially tried out for the part of Lt. Hernandez. The character was ultimately changed into Tasha Yar, who was played by Denise Crosby. Goldstein would eventually find her way into “Star Trek,” for “Generations” and “Star Trek: Short Treks.”
When the staff at TNG needed to flesh out the look of the new threat to Picard and the Enterprise crew, they turned to the artwork of H.R. Giger for inspiration. The Borg were not designed by Giger, who famously created the Alien Xenomorph creature, but the “nightmarish” style of mixing the organic with mechanical was pioneered by Giger.
Giger’s Influence on ‘The Next Generation’
Artist Durinda Rice Wood based her early Borg designs on Giger’s art. For “Star Trek: First Contact,” producers hired artist Ricardo Delgado to add even more detail to the Borg. Delgado worked on DS9 as well and also cited Giger as an inspiration. Some of Delgado’s unused designs for the Borg and Borg Queen detail how he used the “nightmarish” look of Giger to influence how Picard’s enemies looked.
The Perfect Film?
Neville Page, who is the lead creature designer for “Discovery” said that, “Bryan [Fuller] planted the seed. He likes the Giger aesthetic.” Page would also say that “Alien” was, in his opinion, the “perfect film.”
If fans must know what would happen should the worlds of “Star Trek” and “Alien” were to ever collide, they might want to head over to their local comic book shop. In 2017, Dark Horse Comics and IDW created a limited series where the crew of TNG faced the Xenomorphs. Some even wondered what might happen when the Bishop-series androids met Mr. Data.