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Warning: Spoilers for Life's ending are present throughout the entirety of this story. If you haven't seen the film and don't want to be spoiled, bookmark this page and come back once you've seen the film.
Towards the end of Life, some extreme measures are required to save the human race. What was once a curious experiment in xenobiology turned into the creature known as Calvin, a killing machine bent on consuming all life on the International Space Station. After offing everyone but two crew members of the now infamous Pilgrim mission, one final play is conceived to protect the Earth from this deadly Martian scourge.
After turning the ISS into a low oxygen environment, Calvin is being lured, via oxygen candles, into an escape pod by Jake Gyllenhaal's Danny Jordan. This is a diversion, so Danny can send his pod into deep space, while Rebecca Ferguson's Miranda North is supposed to follow the auto-pilot course back to Earth. The plan is for Danny to skip off of the Earth's atmosphere, taking himself and the creature as far away from the planet as possible, while Miranda will warn their oversight committee of the threat that derailed their mission. Sure enough, Calvin enters Danny's pod, and he jettisons the craft, manually aiming for an atmospheric skip.
However, while Calvin winds up in the right pod, his grappling with Danny causes a collision that throws both pods off course. Despite their best efforts, Miranda's pod skips off Earth's atmosphere & go into deep space, while Danny's capsule lands on Earth, in Asian Pacific waters, where a fishing boat sails to meet them. Despite Gyllenhaal's protestations, they open the capsule, and we end on the ominous note of horns blaring, as other fishing boats are coming into frame. With an ending like that, one has to wonder just what comes next. Luckily, the writers kind of hinted at an idea:
What The Writers Think Will Happen Next
During their press rounds for Life, the film's writers touched upon what could happen after the film's downer ending. Specifically, co-writer Rhett Reese laid out the following scenario for THR:
Just the fact that Calvin can now possibly reproduce, I think, is an interesting idea. We've dropped him in a situation that is teaming with life to hunt and to eat. That being the ocean, or the coast of Indonesia or Vietnam or wherever we are saying he's landed. So that opens it up right there. But just the idea of firewalls could extend to Earth in the sense that now they've failed to contain Calvin to the station. The question is, how would the Earth react? Obviously, this was an international effort, so there are a lot of countries cooperating. And again, they would be trying to contain this thing from moving forward and yet there might be more Calvin's to deal with. To us, that screams interesting sequel.
So right there, the next steps in Calvin's Life story are tentatively planned. It suggests escalation, like when James Cameron turned Alien into Aliens. But the sequel premise is plentiful enough to give us some ammunition to move the story along in other ways. Let's explore.
What We Think Will Happen Next
Based off of Rhett Reese's remarks on Life, we think it's safe to assume that Calvin will THRIVE in the waters of the Pacific. With enough hydration and life to consume in the ocean, Calvin will more than likely stay underwater for some time. With the reproduction angle in play, depending on how this creature multiplies, there could be multitudes of little Calvins swimming through the oceans of the world, consuming all marine life. That should draw the attention of humanity, as well as the shadowy committee that was behind the Pilgrim Mission, who may or may not have realized that Danny's pod not only landed, but also contained a special visitor. Seeing as they planned for every scenario during the ISS mission, it's also to be assumed they have some sort of firewall scenario for any sort of Earth incursion scenario.
However, seeing as Calvin's a tough bastard and his offspring would be just as resilient, if not more so because of genetic adaptation / mutation, Life's sequel will probably have a similarly downbeat ending. If Earth fails to firewall him again, Calvin and his family could slowly turn Earth into Mars, as it's probably the only way these things died out on their home planet. With a world lacking the resources we're used to populating our home planet, Earth will become the next Mars. Cue the threatening horn section!
What It Would Take To Stop Calvin
While a fatalistic ending is an easy note for the sequel to Life to play, there's still an off chance that humanity at large could beat Calvin. As Rhett Reese stated in his remarks, a second entry would focus on the international co-operative that put together the Pilgrim mission making efforts to stop our newly unwanted house guest. Well, ideally, "the Committee" would have a team on stand-by to investigate the landed capsule and isolate the area before Calvin can escape. Let's call that "Firewall 4," which comes after the first three containment firewalls of "The Box," "The Lab," and "The ISS." Unfortunately for us, Firewall 4 is already breached, as the fishermen opened the capsule & Calvin presumably feasted upon their fleshy delights.
From that point, there are only two more firewall contingents that one could think of to prevent this beast from taking over Earth: preventing too many Calvins from spawning, and nuking the sons of bitches. The former would heavily depend on just how fast the creature can multiply, the yield of offspring, and the ideal conditions for multiplying. Another factor to consider is whether fresh or salt waters would effect Calvin, much as they do a person. Seeing as he seems to have slightly better tolerance to oxygen deprivation, his salt / fresh water preferences might be a moot point.
Here comes the scary part: if we can't stop Calvin from multiplying, or don't have enough data to reasonably believe we can even begin to stop him from spawning, there might only be one option to stop him: nuclear bombardment. While the radiation of space didn't seem to bother him, that of a nuclear bomb may be powerful enough / of the right variety of radiation to fix his wagon and send him into extinction. Of course, then it becomes a question of how much radiation can he withstand, and will Earth be able to withstand the nuclear warfare needed to destroy Calvin. Though it should be noted that by the end of Life, Danny Jordan is still alive; and it could be because his radiation levels are closer to the high end of the safe zone for astronauts that have spent long stretches in space.
Honestly, without further information on Calvin's biology, we might be doomed to the anxious trombone treatment anyway. Not knowing more than the minimal biological details provided in Life, it's hard to come up with an intelligent strategy against this creature, as seen by the survival rate of the Pilgrim mission's crew. But if you've seen Life, and you've got some theories / details that would help beat this alien menace, feel free to share with us in the Comments below! If not, then feel free to help us plan the last party on Earth, before we're consumed by our alien overlords.