Like a small creature mercilessly bursting out of a chest, the Xenomorph has risen to become one of the most iconic movie monsters out there. The Xenomorph has been terrifying/enrapturing movie fans since Ridley Scott's 1979 classic, killing a host of characters in a wide variety of ways. With each new entry in the Alien series, the creature comes back in a shiny new form, never quite the same as when it was last seen. The monster has seen various tweaks and changes to its appearance, from the small to the extreme (for better or worse), to the point where it's easy to get lost in the franchise's surprisingly deep mythology and designs.
The release of Alien: Covenant will be making an attempt to further elaborate on the origins of the Xenomorph, as movie-goers will be treated to the earlier stages of the Xenomorph's evolution. In the wake of the film's release, we've decided to make it a little easier to catch up on the various creatures and monsters that have appeared in the series thus far. Here's every creature in the franchise, from A to Z (nomorph).
You've got to start somewhere and for a Xenomorph, that place is inside an egg. Even the deadliest creature in the galaxy has small beginnings. Every egg holds one xenomorph and the eggs are rarely seen outside of a massive nest. The eggs first appeared in Alien, discovered by some unwitting humans on an abandoned ship on LV-426. The eggs open when a viable host is present and anyone dumb enough to stick their face in front of an open alien egg is bound to get a terrible surprise.
If you're unlucky enough to watch an egg open, then you better be on guard for a Facehugger! These squid-like suckers, well, hug your face... to death! Facehuggers clamp down over the hosts mouth and wraps its tail around the throat, completely overpowering its victim. The Facehugger is just a temporary stage in the life cycle and is responsible for injecting the host with what will eventually grow into a Xenomorph. Once the Facehugger has done its job, it will quickly die. If the host manages to survive the process, they will be overwhelmed with hunger and the worst is still yet to come.
And now we arrive at the first true sign of a Xenomorph: the Chestburster. These little guys are the results of the Facehugger implanting them into the host. Said host will eventually be in for an extremely horrible surprise as the little monster begins crawling around in their insides. The little demon is looking for a way out, but the mouth and butthole are a little too far away and it instead forces its way straight through the chest. It's extremely bloody, but things definitely don't get any cleaner when the Chestburster gets older...
And now we finally meet the star of the show! The Chestburster has rapidly grown into the Xenomorph, a creature that is perfectly crafted by evolution to be the ultimate killer. With its stealth skills, claws, acid spit, and smaller mouth inside a bigger mouth, a xenomorph can kill its prey in any number of ways. First seen in Alien, this form of the monster is actually known as a Drone in the series terminology, though, it's never actually called that onscreen. It's the most basic form of a fully grown Alien, which should only speak volumes about what its other forms are capable of.
The Warrior class Xenomorph is a more advanced form of the drone type that was first introduced by Ridley Scott. This tougher alien first appeared in James Cameron's sequel, Aliens, and was intended as a more mature form that the original Xenomorph would have become, had it not been thrown into the depths of space. Aesthetically, there isn't a whole lot different from a typical Drone, with the warrior possessing a more ridged head and some minor extra trinkets here and there. Again, no one in the movie actually refers to it be a name, as it's more of a behind-the-scenes thing.
And here's the mama! The Alien Queen brings the life cycle of the Xenomorph together as it lays the eggs that go on to become Xenomorphs. The Queen was introduced in Aliens as the biggest and meanest of all the Xenomorphs, deadly protective of her nest and a force to be reckoned with should anyone cross her -- like, say, torching her entire nest of eggs. The queen is the top of the Xeno food chain, making her much more difficult to deal with than her children.
This is where things start to go downhill. Have you ever wondered what would happen if a Facehugger impregnated a host that wasn't a human? So did the makers of Alien 3, who showed what happens when a Xenomorph is grown inside of a dog. The result is a dog-like Alien that runs around on all fours, proving that a Xeno takes on the characteristics of its host. It's actually kind of cool in theory but in execution... not so much. Originally, director David Fincher had an ox in mind as the host, but the end result of a four-legged Xeno would have been the same. This was when they really tried to find new spins on the Alien mythology, but it would be some time before they got back on track.
Oh jeez, this poor bastard. The Newborn is a fairly complicated entry into the Alien series but it essentially boils down to this: the newborn is the result of DNA experiments from human scientists (always with the scientists) who were attempting to create their own Xenomorph using the Xeno DNA in Ripley. The Queen they created eventually gave birth (instead of hatching) to Newborn. However, the Newborn preferred its human half, choosing to win the love of its "mother," Ripley 8 over the Queen. Though it possessed some form of emotion, it was every bit as dangerous as a Xenomorph and it eventually needed to be put down after it killed some humans.
Alien: Resurrection didn't do the series many favors, not only creating the melted wax that is Newborn but also this horror show you see in the picture above. By the time of Resurrection, the real Ripley was long dead, so those pesky scientists decided to clone her to use her for the Xenomorph DNA in her system. They were ultimately successful... on the eighth attempt with the clone that would go by Ripley 8. Ripley 8 had various Xenomorph characteristics (like acid spit), but she got off way easier than Ripley's 1-7. The human and Xeno genes weren't mixing well, which resulted in horribly mutated clones that were an unhealthy mix of their gene donors.
You'd think this one would've been a slam-dunk, but it was quite the opposite. The Predalien was the hybrid between an Alien and Predator, resulting in a creature that, in theory, should have been the deadliest creature in existence. Instead, it only answered the question of what a Xenomorph would look like with dreadlocks. First appearing as a tease at the end of Alien vs Predator, the sequel (Alien vs Predator: Requiem) followed up on that threat and showed the creature in full -- though, that movie is so dark you'd be lucky to see anything.
While Prometheus certainly introduced a lot of questions to the Alien series, it's didn't do much to actually provide answers. The prequel offers some hints as to the origins of the Xenomorph's as some kind of weapon created by the Engineers that went bad, but the Deacon is the only real physical connection. The Deacon is the creature that emerges from the Engineer that was attacked by the Trilobite. The Deacon is only onscreen for a few seconds and its existence is a domino effect of circumstances created by the android, David.
Prometheus introduced lots of crazy new concepts to Alien, but was pretty vague on the explanation -- especially when it came to some of the new creatures seen in the movie. In addition to the black ooze, the prequel introduced a worm creature (Hammerpede) and a squid creature (Trilobite). The Hammerpede was a dangerous being that ended up killing one of the scientists of Prometheus, while the Trilobite is something of a proto-Facehugger, only grown inside of a human instead of an egg and eventually becoming much larger in size.
The Neomorph is one of the newest additions to the Alien mythology and appears in Alien: Covenant. We can't give away too much about this guy just yet, but word on the street is that his scenes are NASTY. It's a bit closer to the classic Xenomorph than anything we got in Prometheus, but it clearly has some unique traits all to itself, such as its boney protrusions and its white skin.
Alien: Covenant Xenomorph
Though it looks nearly identical to the classic Drone for Alien, the Xenomorph seen in the trailer for Alien: Covenant is actually not the same type. There are a few differences, at least from a cosmetic point of view. The Covenant model has longer, thinner, and muscular limbs as well as a sleeker tail that ends in a stinger. As far as its capabilities, we'll just have to wait until the movie officially comes out to talk about that.
Alien: Covenant will be in theaters on May 19.