Aliens, the sequel to Ridley Scott’s space thriller, just turned 25.
Let that soak in.
The film came before every action movie had a sequel in the works before the first weekend ended. But the reason that James Cameron took seven years to make Aliens was that he needed 100 million dollars and a slot on Sigourney Weaver‘s calendar, since Alien made her a star.
He had to wait, of course, because nobody but Weaver could play Ellen Ripley. And the way she played the role not only made Ripley a sci-fi icon, it broke down gender barriers that had long kept women in the background of action movies. Aliens also earned Weaver an Oscar nomination — one of the only such nods for a woman in an action role.
The franchise continued for two more movies and we’ve heard talk about a fifth ever since. Weaver even reported talking to Ridley Scott about a film featuring Ripley — perhaps with no aliens at all.
In an interview with Moviefone last week, however, Weaver seemed to think that a final Ripley story seems unlikely, given the industry’s lack of enthusiasm for sci-fi films built around “women of a certain age.”
“While I can’t speak for them,” she said, “I think for [Aliens' production company] Fox, once you’re 60, you’re not going to be starring in an action movie. I think it’s too bad … I would have liked to do one last story where we go back to the planet, where Ripley’s history is evolved.”
“I could definitely kick that alien’s ass again.”
In case you need a reminder of how Ripley kicked the alien’s ass previously, here’s her famous Aliens fight with the Queen Alien. (NSFW.)
Whew. I’m exhausted.
Weaver speculates that one reason few high profile, female-lead action movies get made is that many are based on classic comic books.
“In comic books, it’s all about the men — and because they were written in the ’50s and ’60s especially,” she said. “[A female action hero] just wasn’t where it was at for those writers and there’s only so many band-aids you can put on that to make it relevant for today’s society. There are gorgeous, occasionally kick-ass characters like Scarlett Johansson in Iron Man 2, but in general I don’t think those guys were thinking about women in those ways.”
“What’s so exciting about women in action is that women bring a different focus to the action and it comes from a different source,” she continued. “I just wish we could see more of them. Every woman you see, in her kitchen or wherever else, has a secret action heroine in her; just wait till something happens to her children or husband, then you’ll see it.”
Sigourney does think, however, that the next generation of Hollywood directors may change the trend.
“We have so many talented directors who grew up on movies like Aliens and they are going to change that,” she said. “And you’re going to see a lot of young women directors coming up who say ‘I don’t care if they are interested in that, this is what I’m going to do.’ I think everything is going to change, we’re going to have a big revolution. I’m sure we’re going to see, even in very real films, women being much more physical and just being the kick-ass women that they are. Then they don’t have to be in outer space, it will be contemporary — look out!”
I hope I’m not senile by the time that next generation comes of age. I love me some kick-ass women on the big screen.
Can you believe Aliens is 25? Which movie in the franchise was your favorite? Do you agree with Weaver about women in action movies?