“Alien vs. Predator” is only the latest example of that perennial sci-fi subgenre known as the crossover — where two characters from two different series cross into one another’s storytelling territories. In the case of “AvP,” you can even divide it further into the sub-subgenre known informally as “Who’d kick whose butt?”
A huge source of inspiration for this sort of fanboy matchup is the great Marvel/DC split — that is, the fact that almost all comic-book heroes fall into two major groups by virtue of which company publishes their stories, and almost never meet in an official context. The recent four-issue “Avengers vs. JLA” series, co-published by both companies, was a rare example of this.
But why stop at Aliens and Predators? Here’s a full fight card matching up more than a dozen other movie monsters, tough guys and villains. For now, in keeping with the “Alien vs. Predator” theme, we’ll limit the battlefield contestants to those from science-fiction films, and wait until another day to pit Dick Van Dyke, Angela Lansbury and Andy Griffith against each other in a “Diagnosis: Murder” vs. “Murder She Wrote” vs. “Matlock” fight to the death. Now there’s a grudge match.
In this corner: The Alien Queen from “Aliens” (1986)In that corner: Shelob the spider from “Lord of the Rings: Return of the King” (2003)And the winner is: Tough call. That acidic Alien blood is a distinct advantage, and would give Shelob only one chance to get a hit in with that nasty stinger of hers. But as J.R.R. Tolkien describes her in his books, Shelob is very old, very strong and very cunning. And if the fight is on Shelob’s home turf, the Alien Queen is toast. (Next, Shelob will go eat Aragog, the giant spider of “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”)
Hunting season is open
In this corner: The Predator from “Predator” (1987)In that corner: The T-1000 Terminator from “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” (1991)And the winner is: Two relentless hunters face off against each other, both spoiling for a victory after their humiliating losses to Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Predator’s invisibility trick will be useless on a machine that has no trouble seeing in infrared. And the T-1000’s shapeshifting abilities make it nearly impossible to kill, and completely invulnerable to the blades the Predator keeps in its arsenal. On the other hand, the only two things that seemed to slow down or stop the Terminator were extreme cold (like a tankful of liquid nitrogen) or extreme heat (like a vat of molten iron) — and the Predator has access to laser weapons that might be able to melt his liquid adversary in a way he won’t be able to bounce back from. Still, on balance we give this one to the Terminator.
Then again, maybe size is everything
In this corner: Glen Manning, the unfortunate size-plagued title character of “The Amazing Colossal Man” (1957)In that corner: Scott Carey, the unfortunate size-plagued title character of “The Amazing Shrinking Man” (1957)And the winner is: Oh, this one’s a heartbreaker. Even though “Shrinking Man” is by far the better film and Carey the cooler hero, there’s just no way a guy who’s rapidly getting smaller and smaller is going to win a hand-to-hand fight against a guy who keeps getting bigger and bigger. The best Carey can hope for is that maybe Manning won’t be able to find him without a very large magnifying glass.
A smorgasbord of smackdown
In this corner: The Borg, from various “Star Trek” shows including the movie “Star Trek: First Contact”In that corner: Marvin the Martian, from various Warner Brothers cartoons including “Duck Dodgers in the 24½th Century.” And the winner is: Marvin. It’s no contest, really. While the Borg are obviously far more powerful and will be able to assimilate the little helmeted guy very easily, the whole concept of “assimilation” will backfire on them. Because when they add Marvin’s technological and cultural distinctiveness to their own, they absorb the terrible cosmic bad luck that attaches to every Warner Brothers cartoon villain. The next time the Borg attack the Federation, they’ll attempt to destroy Earth with one of Marvin’s Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulators, which are guaranteed to malfunction, leading to the total destruction of the Borg fleet. Marvin survives because like every WB character, he is effectively indestructible (just very, very unlucky). He flies off into space clinging to a piece of Borg Cube wreckage, waiting to be rescued by Daffy or Bugs.
When world-destroyers collide
In this corner: Galactus, perennial Marvel Comics villain In that corner: Darth Vader, of the “Star Wars” filmsAnd the winner is: Galactus. Vader may have the Death Star, with the ability to destroy whole planets at his nefarious command. But big as it is, the Death Star is still only the size of a small moon. Galactus, on the other hand, literally eats planets for breakfast, and he could crack open the Death Star like he’s making a fried egg. So unless Vader can quickly establish an alliance with the Silver Surfer, the Empire is in trouble. (OK, yes, Galactus has never been in a movie, but I liked this matchup so much I violated my own rule. Sorry.)
Heston! Heston! Heston!
In this corner: Charlton Heston as George Taylor in “Planet of the Apes” (1968)In that corner: Charlton Heston as Robert Neville in “The Omega Man” (1971)In that other corner: Charlton Heston as Robert Thorn in “Soylent Green” (1973)And the winner is: Three of the tough-guy characters who made Heston the iconic hero of dystopian survivalist sci-fi films face off. Three Charltons go into the ring, and only one will come out. Will it be the only intelligent human in a world ruled by intelligent monkeys? The detective who uncovers the terrible secret behind an overpopulated Earth’s only food supply? Or the last remaining normal human in a world of albino vampires? We’re going with the Omega Man in this fight — not only are his survival skills the sharpest of the three, but the other films’ twist endings give him an edge. Thorn will get KO’ed first, as he’s bound to be malnourished now that he knows what Soylent Green is really made of. And Taylor is definitely a scrapper, but since he’s so despondent about the surprise appearance of the Statue of Liberty, he won’t fight as well as he might otherwise, and might even welcome death at Neville’s hands.
Brawl of the big bacteria
In this corner: The Thing (1981)In that corner: The Blob (1958)In that other corner: The Creeping Terror (1964)And the winner is: It’s sure not the Creeping Terror, a monster from one of those deliriously bad movies that “Mystery Science Theater 3000” loved to mock — supposedly a giant bacteria, it’s really just a carpet covered by a couple of stagehands whose feet were still visible. That leaves us with the Blob, a single-celled organism from outer space that eats anything it touches, and the Thing from John Carpenter’s horror remake, which absorbs and imitates any living being it gets near. Advantage: The Thing. They’re both equally omnivorous. They’re both equally vulnerable to fire and freezing, which cancels each other out. But the Thing has two tricks up its sleeve (assuming it has grown arms that can wear sleeves, that is). First, the Blob is not very bright — it’s made of one cell, and it’s not a brain cell. The Thing knows how to build a spacecraft out of spare parts it finds in a storage shed, which I bet even that Stephen Hawking guy can’t do. Combine that with the Thing's ability to shapeshift, and eventually it’ll figure out a way to turn into a monster whose stomach can digest even the Blob.