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Noah Hawley's pitch for an Alien series took Legion's approach to the iconic franchise

By Jacob Oller
Noah Hawley

Noah Hawley, the writer known for FX's mutant-filled Legion and for an embattled upcoming Star Trek film, hasn't been resting easily with fingers just in two classic franchises. He's also been trying to get into the world of xenomorphs. Back in early 2019, it was revealed that Hawley's plans for an Aliens miniseries at FX were taken down by then-Fox film head Stacey Snider before the Disney-Fox merger. There's no indication that things will move forward now that Disney's running the show, but it's still worth looking into what Hawley would've done with the iconic franchise.

Speaking to Observer, Hawley explained that his pitch was inherently linked to his idea of the Alien series as a whole.

Alien is on some level the complete opposite of Star Trek. It’s sort of about humanity at its worst,” he said. “There’s this moment in the second film when Sigourney says, ‘I don’t know which species is worse. At least they don’t screw each other over for a percentage.’ If you look at what Aliens tends to be, it’s usually a trapped story – trapped in a ship, trapped in a prison, etc. And because the Alien has this life cycle to it, where it goes from egg, to chestburster, to xenomorph, there becomes a certain routine to it.”

Taking to the TV world meant moving beyond that cycle — something the writer's already done with the superhero world.

“I thought it would be interesting if you could expand. If you’re going to make something for television, you’ve got 10 hours let’s say," Hawley said. "Even if you have a lot of action, like two hours, then you’re still going to have eight hours left. So what is the show about? That’s what I tried to talk to them about. As I did with Legion, the exercise is: Let’s take the superhero stuff out of the show and see if it’s still a great show. What’s the show about? Let’s take the Alien out of the show. What’s the show about? What are the themes, who are the characters and what is the human drama? Then we drop the aliens back in and we go, ‘This is great. Not only is there great human drama, but there’s aliens!’”

Legion's non-superhero superheroes certainly warped the show into an intense and strange TV experience, but would Alien benefit from the same treatment? Its film universe has already expanded to some pretty bizarre places thanks to films like Prometheus and Alien: Covenant, so TV could double down on the oddball lore of the franchise. Do you think Alien could work on TV?