We see the current fixation on the movie ‘multiverse’ as a contemporary trend in modern cinema, though truthfully the insanity of such crossovers has existed long before the influence of Marvel and DC, with such stories having entertained film lovers and comic-book fans for generations.
60 years before the release of Godzilla vs. Kong, the titans had already duked it out, albeit from opposite ends of the ring, with King Kong Vs Godzilla in 1960, and even such icons as Dracula and Frankenstein had a similar scrap in 1971. Pure frivolous fun, these films were never supposed to be taken seriously, made simply to appease salivating fans who had long bickered over who was stronger, bigger or more vicious; ‘x’ or ‘y’.
Even if modern culture would have you think differently, this trend has long existed, playing on the concept of a multiversal battle that impossibly pits two characters against each other to make them fight to the death. Inevitably, at the turn of the new millennium, such shlock thrived in a moment of creative curiosity with Freddy vs Jason being released in 2003, shortly before Alien Vs. Predator in 2004.
“Whoever wins…we lose,” the poster for the peculiar 2004 horror-action hybrid perfectly warned, injecting the ideal amount of melodrama into an already absurd film that followed two races of alien beings hunting each other through a giant maze hidden beneath the Antarctic ice. Directed by the notoriously haphazard Paul W.S. Anderson, the Resident Evil filmmaker, took Ridley Scott’s iconic Xenomorph and John McTiernan’s Predator and smeared them together in an adventure that reeked of a Saturday morning cartoon.
Melding both worlds together, the film embraced blissful absurdity, becoming a hybrid of The Predator’s popcorn action and Alien’s genuinely terrifying aesthetic, making something of a cult favourite as a result. Sure, the film was a transparent financial exercise, but as a piece of inane entertainment, it revelled in its bad taste like a pig in mud, diving headfirst into a lampoon of its own existence.
This urge for parody thrived throughout the early 2000s, with the release of horror satires Jason X and Halloween: Resurrection, on top of other genre hits including Shaun of the Dead, Shrek and The One, all before 2005. With complex multiversal themes that saw characters assimilate into reality and storylines wherein fairytales all existed under one unified world and warriors fight to become the best, Alien Vs. Predator existed in a time when chaotic, extensive stories were rife.
Marvel didn’t invent the multiverse, they simply revived it, with such aforementioned films from the start of the new century expanding viewers’ expectations for stories that challenged our perception of narrative possibility and embraced the chaos. With franchises getting bigger and limitless possibilities becoming the new trend, a taste has returned to see the most iconic cinematic names go toe to toe in a multiversal scrap.
Embracing madness, much like Marvel’s latest Doctor Strange movie, or indeed A24’s triumphant Everything Everywhere All at Once, culture is ripe to see the third instalment in the Alien Vs. Predator series. Capturing the attention of audiences much like Godzilla vs. Kong, the tantalising promise of seeing Alien vs Predator once more in flashy Disney glory is simply too great and too absurd not to love.