Aliens 3 was forced to change its ending at the last minute due to a rival blockbuster. Aliens 3 ranks together with people who Apocalypse now and World War Z when it comes to nightmarish productions. The sequel spent years in development hell before David Fincher was hired to direct, but from an incomplete script to creative disagreements and other production issues, the project seemed doomed. The film was a critical and commercial disappointment upon release, although it has received some reappraisal over the years.
Aliens 3 is also one of the bleakest blockbusters ever put out by a major studio. The sequel opens with the gruesome deaths of Hicks and Newt and ends with the death of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley. The suppression was no doubt aided unconsciously by the struggle to film Aliens 3, but its commitment to delivering such a dark final chapter to Ripley’s story is almost admirable. It was one of Weaver’s conditions that Aliens 3 ended with Ripley’s death, but while that ending was always in place, the finale had to be reshot to distance itself from another big sci-fi sequel.
How Alien 3’s original ending was different
Alien 3’s The finale sees Ripley and the captors lure the deadly “Dragon” Xenomorph into a trap and eventually kill it. When Ripley was previously implanted with an Alien Queen embryo, she planned to commit suicide before the Weyland-Yutani Company can arrive and extract it from her. While Ripley is briefly tempted by Bishop II’s (Lance Henriksen) offer to surgically remove it and save her life, she decides to rid the universe of the creature once and for all. The original Aliens 3 the ending saw her leap backwards and fall into the molten lead, where she – and the embryo inside – are quickly consumed by the furnace.
Alien 3 changed its original ending because of Terminator 2
While Aliens 3 was filming, Fox and producers Walter Hill and David Giler had heard about the end of the Camerons Terminator 2: Judgment Day. To sum up, T2 also concluded with a finale surrounding a vat of molten lead where the human characters are chased around by a relentless killing machine. IN Doomsday, both the T-1000 (Robert Patrick) and the T-800 (Arnold Schwarzenegger) are destroyed by molten lead; in the latter’s case, it is a noble sacrifice, as his complete destruction is the only way to ensure that Skynet will not destroy the world.
Despite the fact that the context and characters are quite different, the filmmakers are behind it Aliens 3 became concerned critics and viewers would assume they had ripped off Terminator 2’s End. Reshooting a completely different death for both the Xenomorph and Ripley was out of the question, so instead they shot an extra moment to help differentiate the two finales. IN Alien 3’s The theatrical release sees the Alien Queen embryo break out of Ripley’s chest and try to escape its impending doom. Looking almost serene, the dying Ripley just holds on to the writhing creature as they fall into the tub.
Why Alien 3’s original ending is better
Both co-star Charles Dance and Giler would later confirm Alien 3’s the ending was repeated to avoid T2 comparisons. The producers of Aliens 3 would have saved themselves some heartache if they had shot a few versions of the ending in the first place. Some drafts featured alternate endings, such as the Alien Queen bursting out of Ripley and trying to escape Before her jump where the two fell into the tub.
The ending of the theatrical cut is somewhat hampered by crude greenscreen effects during Ripley’s death dive, but it gives her the final victory over both the beast and Weyland-Yutani, as she goes to her end knowing that she has destroyed the former and outwitted the latter. That said, it’s an extra moment of bombast that the sequel doesn’t really need. It still works emotionally, but it feels like the purpose of Ripley’s sacrifice is unnecessarily emphasized. The original Aliens 3 ending – which was later restored to the Assembly Cut – just works better. Ripley makes her decision and jumps, and the execution of the moment is already taking her distance Terminator 2.
The answer to Ripley’s Aliens 3 death was predictably also shuffled in the wake of the sequel’s release. While perhaps designed to close the saga, a few years later Weaver would sign on to play a Ripley clone in it Alien resurrection. While she had once considered one Aliens 5 back for a concept with director Neill Blomkamp at the helm, that the project’s cancellation has apparently killed her interest in reprising Ripley again. From now on, Aliens 3 stands as the final chapter in the Ellen Ripley story; in retrospect, it’s also hard to see how anyone felt her ending could be seen as one Terminator 2 ripoff too.