The problem with aliens in movies is that most of us (in fact, I’d daresay all of us) have never seen an alien before.

Since nobody has seen an alien before, scriptwriters have to tap into their imaginations when writing movies about aliens. And since scriptwriters are generally not trained in biology, it means that movie aliens all tend to follow the same tropes – tropes that just don’t make sense if you think about it. We’re talking about things like:

1. Aliens mature to adulthood within days

Life comes to life in Life. Credit: Life Facebook Page

Life comes to life in Life. Credit: Life Facebook Page

So when astronauts find alien eggs, they usually immediately take those eggs on board. After all, in real life, as long as we see eggs we’ll bring them home right? Never mind if they end up hatching into murderous aliens (or spiders).

But the truth is that most creatures are easy to kill when they’re young, and they tend to take a fair amount of time and energy to grow to adulthood. Not movie aliens though. They go from tiny egg to terrifyingly huge man-eating aliens in a matter of days, sometimes even hours. Just look at the aliens in Alien. After bursting forth from the host’s chest, they reach adult size in just a few hours.

Which other species on Earth can grow that fast?

2. Aliens evolve instantly

This is definitely not how animals evolve in reality.

Movie aliens also frequently have the ability to evolve and gain special powers almost instantly, probably thanks to how Pokemon are depicted when evolving.

Compare that to biological evolution, which is defined as “the process by which the characteristics of organisms change over successive generations, by means of genetic variation and natural selection”. It’s a slow, gradual process that requires many births of many children. A single creature can’t evolve by itself.

Not the alien in Life though. It evolves almost as quickly as it can think of new ways it can evolve into. And unlike Pokemon, you don’t need a magic stone to trigger its evolution.

3. Aliens are always hostile

Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Besides Superman, aliens are always hostile. Of course, movies wouldn’t be quite as interesting if aliens were helpful. And humanity does have a certain precedent for being hostile when they enter new territories – that’s how “colonisation” happens, after all. But still, could we have just one friendly alien race for once?

Oh wait, we did! The aliens from Arrival were friendly. But that’s because they had an ulterior motive – they needed to help humanity so that humanity could help them in the future.

4. Aliens can somehow communicate with humans even though they don’t speak Earth languages

Maybe this is what aliens would say. Credit: Anarchyball Facebook Page

Maybe this is what aliens would say. Credit: Anarchyball Facebook Page

Have you tried talking to a kangaroo before? Well, it’s not possible because we’re not the same species and we don’t share the same language. Now extrapolate that to aliens. You might not even be able to make the same sounds as them. How are you going to communicate?

Worse still are aliens who can magically speak fluent, American-accented English. Firstly, being able to speak a different language fluently takes years. Secondly, they speak in an accent that’s indistinguishable from the incredibly good-looking actors scientists that they make contact with.

It’s convenient, true, but it’s also completely unbelievable.

5. Aliens are all carnivores

Noms. Credit: Shiver: A Horror Movie Podcast Facebook Page

Noms. Credit: Shiver: A Horror Movie Podcast Facebook Page

Movie aliens are also hungry for flesh – human flesh, that is. That’s just completely unscientific. Firstly, to send a group of creatures into space that only eat meat would be suicidal. They’re so far up the food chain that it would take far too many resources to sustain them.

Then there’s the fact that Earth creatures might very well be poisonous to aliens. After all, if eating aliens would sound disastrous to us, wouldn’t it stand to reason that eating Earthlings might be dangerous for aliens? It’s not like every carnivore on Earth can eat any living creature. Some animals are just toxic to other animals, which is why carnivores don’t immediately attack a creature that they’ve never seen before.

Wouldn’t herbivore aliens survive better in space?

Life. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Life. Credit: Golden Village Cinemas

Hopefully, we haven’t spoilt all alien movies for you. But if you’re game, check out Life – a film about (you guessed it) aliens! It stars Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, and Ryan Reynolds as astronauts who encounter a rapidly evolving alien life form on their trip into space. The alien also happens to have decimated Mars, so what happens when it decides to come to Earth?

See how many of these alien tropes apply in Life!


Credits: Alvinology, Life Facebook Page, Anarchyball Facebook Page, Shiver: A Horror Movie Podcast Facebook PageGolden Village Cinemas