Before Joss Whedon became the director of The Avengers or the creator of cult TV shows like Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse, he was a working screenwriter building his career in Hollywood. One of the first screenplays he got credit for writing was the fourth installment in the Alien franchise, Alien: Resurrection, directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The movie is terrible, and had stranded the series in limbo until Ridley Scott returned to it with the sci-fi film Prometheus last year (not counting the Alien vs. Predator movies). Needless to say, Whedon has some regrets about Alien: Resurrection.
“Yes, I did see Pro-meaningless,” he joked. “In all seriousness, Alien: Resurrection was, I thought, the lowest I could ever feel. And then they cancelled Firefly. ‘Yup, there you go. That’s me feeling even lower.’ Let me quote King Lear — ‘The worst is not, so long as we can say, ‘This is the worst’…
You don’t ever get over it. When you are making a movie you are making something that is going to last forever, especially now with the internet. So there is always going to be a shitty Alien movie out there. A shitty Alien movie with my name on it.”
So what went wrong? Whedon has his own thoughts on why Alien: Resurrection was almost a franchise killer:
Casting is storytelling. I wrote two characters for Alien: Resurrection and their arc was that you would not know what way they were going to go. One of them turned out to be insane — and what do they do? They call Brad Dourif. So there is no plot twist. Brad is a very good actor but he has been pigeonholed into these roles. Then they cast J.E. Freeman as a thug — and his character was also supposed to be a mystery. So there you go again — the mystery is gone. Those are just a couple of examples because there are thousands of them when it comes to Alien: Resurrection.
Whedon also commented on Paul W.S. Anderson’s entry in the Alien film series. “I actually like the first Alien vs. Predator. I’m a Paul W. S. Anderson fan.” Let’s hope he was joking. I wonder how he feels about Alien vs. Predator: Requiem.