The movie that might have been: Alien 3 as based on a script by William Gibson, author of the seminal cyberpunk novel Neuromancer (among others). Just another example of the Hollywood road not taken, though I'm probably in the minority in thinking that -- while the Alien 3 we got was the shark-jumping moment of the franchise -- the Alien 3 from Gibson would have been just as inadequate.
First, Gibson wrote under the assumption that Sigourney Weaver wouldn't return as the iconic Ellen Ripley (contract dispute or somesuch), so the movie focuses on Corporal Hicks (Michael Biehn) and the android Bishop (Lance Henriksen), Weaver's main costars from Aliens. That's strike one.
Strike two is Gibson's decision to do away with face-huggers and create an "alien virus" that turned humans into aliens by contact. In effect, this remade Alien 3 into just another zombie movie, though with advantage of space marines.
The third strike is to insert U.S. vs. Soviet cold war geopolitics into the plot, instantly muddying the anti-corporate undertones of the first two films. (Who is more evil, mindless kill-to-reproduce aliens or willfully murderous human corporations willing to sacrifice their own for a profit?) All told, this film would have been a passable actioner but still would have warped the franchise badly.Of course, that's just my opinion. Read Gibson's Alien 3 script for yourself and decide. The above pre-production trailer for Alien 3 does hint at the one thing Gibson did get right -- and that the franchise is overdue to show us -- bringing the aliens to Earth. That would be a movie worth seeing.
Alien: Resurrection ends with this plot twist as a distinct probability (by virtue of a horribly maimed script that was originally penned by Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Serenity), but since then we've gone down the deplorable Alien vs. Predator tangent -- which purportedly killed any interest James Cameron had in reviving the series -- and I seriously doubt we'll ever regain the greatness that was once Alien and Aliens.
Trailer found via the always indispensable SFSignal.