Ryan Coogler’s X-Files Reboot Needs To Forget Aliens

With UFOs starting to become more fact than fiction, Ryan Coogler's X-Files reboot will need a different focus.

By Michileen Martin | Updated

ryan coogler x-files

According to the show’s creator Chris Carter, Black Panther writer/director Ryan Coogler is working on a reboot of The X-Files with a more diverse cast. Carter revealed the surprising news on the Canadian podcast On the Coast with Gloria. While this is no doubt in the very early stages, I think it’s clear that Coogler needs move the focus of his reboot away from UFOs and aliens both because of the mess Carter made of the original’s mythology, and because since the original show premiered in the 1990s UFOs have started to look a lot less like science fiction and more like just science.

While the original version of The X-Files dealt with everything from vampires to werewolves to the Jersey Devil, its chief subject was a mythology dealing with UFOs and the always elusive truth about them. That “truth” would eventually involve aliens collaborating with a secret cabal of powerful men, other aliens warring against those men and the first aliens, black oil that possessed people, extra terrestrial bounty hunters who could only be killed with spikes found in summer home lamps, killer bees, sunken submarines, and a chain-smoking puppet master who died and came back more times than Freddy Krueger.

ryan coogler x-files
Alex Krycek (Nicolas Lea) possessed by a black oil alien in The X-Files

There were great mythology episodes — and certain mythology-specific characters like the aforementioned Cancer Man (William B. Davis) and the duplicitous Alex Krycek (Nicolas Lea) were genuinely intriguing — but eventually the thing got far too convoluted to save. If Ryan Coogler does choose to involve aliens in The X-Files, at the very least he should do it without using the kind of series-long storyline Carter tried and failed to master.

There’s another fairly obvious reason Ryan Coogler’s X-Files reboot would probably want to minimize the use of aliens — because the subject of visitors from other planets is no longer the kind of thing reserved for the Weekly World News. The last couple of years have seen the subject of UFOs, or UAPs (unidentified aerial phenomena), seem a lot more legitimate with everyone from Navy pilots to elected officials to former presidents speaking openly about what they know.

If David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were to join Ryan Coogler’s series as their classic X-Files characters, what could they argue about? What could the shadow government’s malevolent forces suppress?

Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) in The X-Files

Fox Mulder would insist, “Scully, I’m telling you, these UFOs are real!” Scully would respond, “Yeah, it’s been on CNN all day. What are you, new?”

I would hate to try to count how many times on The X-Files Mulder and/or Scully finally found that one person who could tell the word the all-important “truth” about aliens and told the scared witness, “Just wait right here in this dark, abandoned warehouse where you’ll be completely safe,” only to return a half hour later to find them dead or vanished. But today, the only reason they wouldn’t be in the warehouse when Mulder and Scully returned is because they had to rush to a nearby TV studio for an appearance on The View.

So, no, I think Ryan Coogler’s X-Files — should Cancer Man and the government’s other dark forces fail to suppress it — would do best to focus on the more supernatural side of things. Zombies, ghosts, Giovanni Ribisi shooting lightning like a Mortal Kombat fighter — there’s more than enough weird out there without having to deal with oil crawling into Fox Mulder’s face-holes again.