As much as I love the Alien-Predator franchises, including the AvP films— the only exception being Robert Rodriguez’s PREDATORS, as I felt that movie had happened to be a major piece of shit, and with the upcoming sequel by Shane Black on the way, I wanted to get the continuity of Alien and Predator off my mind as it’s been plaguing me for a while.
If you don’t like reading wall of text, see the TLDR; version below by scrolling down.
Originally, Alien and Predator were two separate universes which no connecting links in their respective individual canon around the time when the first Predator movie was around. The mythology of Aliens vs Predator hadn’t even started until 1989 when Dark Horse writer Chris Warner suggested the idea, and the concept was penned by Randy Stradley. The only connecting link was in a comic book until Predator 2, which was released in 1990 showed us an Alien skull in the trophy room as an Easter Egg, serving as a nod to the comics which were a major hit at the time.
For years, the concept of Aliens vs Predator was exclusive to the expanded universe material consisting of comics, novels, video games and even toys. But the thing is with Expanded Universe material, unlike Star Wars, there was no canon hierarchy and left fans to decide if it was canon or not. However it wasn’t until a single line uttered by Doctor Wren in Alien Resurrection, mentioning how the Xenomorph has been extinct for 200 years which seemed to negate a large portion of the EU.
That was later compensated and retconned with the Big Deletion concept in the comics, to maintain and preserve continuity. Or rather.. it attempted to do so anyway. Though with the reboot Fire and Stone comics on the way, it seems as if the comics are taking The New 52 route and establishing a new continuity while keeping some old elements from the previous comics.
Then in August 13th of 2004, the Alien vs Predator concept eventually saw limelight in the silver screen and fully established the links between the Alien franchise and the Predator franchise. 2007’s Alien vs Predator: Requiem continued the storyline and attempted to lead up to the events of Alien. A third movie was briefly discussed but nothing bore fruit.
In 2010, Twentieth Century Fox had collaborated with Robert Rodriguez to film PREDATORS, and there is some.. ambiguous continuity to where the movie fits in due to Rodriguez's statements and Antal's statements. Despite the film not contradicting or retconning Predator 2, or the AvP films, some fans have labeled the film as “Predator 3” and have placed the AvP films under the realm of fanon discontinuity while no official statement from Twentieth Century Fox has been made regarding the canon status of the crossover films.
2012 saw the release of the spin-off franchise and indirect prequel, directed by none other than Ridley Scott, Prometheus. Interestingly, Prometheus doesn’t seem to follow the same timeline as Alien vs Predator, the major contradiction being Peter Weyland and of course Weyland Corp. Mind you some in-universe promotional material does reference Weyland Industries (see David 8’s Marketing Video).
And of course, 2013 saw the release of Aliens: Colonial Marines which is somehow.. supposed to be canon despite the glaring plot holes and unanswered questions regarding Hick’s survival, and the contradicting plot points in the game. The game, much like the AvP films, has fallen into fanon discontinuity though is regard as canon by Fox.
So really.. What is canon as far as the Alien-Predator franchise goes? There doesn’t seem to be a sense of coherency within the overall media and fans are left to decide what is canon and what isn’t. But one thing is certain, the films are considered the source material and set in stone while the expanded universe serves as filler until contradicted by the films. However even this lack of coherency is present in the films with the release of PREDATORS and Prometheus.
PREDATORS was filmed in mind to ignore Predator 2 to AvP-R, and Prometheus was meant to ignore the AvP movies and serve as a spin-off and prequel to the Alien films. However neither movie has retconned the AvP films, only ignored them. In a sense, both films have done what Halloween: H20 and what Godzilla 1985 have done.. Ignore previous released films and establish new continuity. For the AvP films to be retconned, truly retconned out of canon— they would have to be written out intricately and cleverly, or simply declared by Fox to be non-canon. The Alien-Predator films don’t deal with time travel, so retconning them in the storyline wouldn’t be easy like with X-Men: Days of Futures Past, so the latter would make more sense but Fox like won’t address them.
Many fans seem to believe that there is a coherent singular timeline. This is even presented over at the timeline article over at Xenopedia. For a while, the singular timeline worked up until 2010 when PREDATORS was released and in 2012, Prometheus further skewed it. Therefore the singular timeline cannot work.
For a singular timeline to work, certain entries in the Alien-Predator media have to be removed but because Fox hasn’t stated the canon placement of these entries, it is a discombobulated mess and fans are left to figure out what is canon. This ultimately leads to personal canon.
I really think it would help the fandom as a whole to acknowledge and accept that there is more than one timeline rather than putting certain films into the realm of fanon discontinuity. The Alien-Predator franchises should have their continuity viewed similarly or the same way how the Halloween franchise has two different timelines, or how the Godzilla franchise has more than one timeline.
In fact, I wish the folks over at AvPGalaxy and Xenopedia adopt that idea because I think that’s what might be the case here. We have different timelines in the Alien-Predator franchise rather than a singular one and therefore should treat them as how the Halloween or Godzilla movies are treated. I think this idea should be spread around.
TLDR; The Alien-Predator continuity isn’t coherent. People saying the AvP films are non-canon is just nothing but fanon discontinuity. All the films are set in stone, while EU material is secondary filler. The singular timeline doesn’t work and shouldn’t be viewed as one but multiple timelines like how Godzilla and Halloween are viewed. The fandom needs to adopt this idea.