Daniels and Ripley really have a lot things in common
Sir Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien franchise has been most welcomed by the fans and audiences alike. The latest instalment Alien Covenant, directed and co-produced by Scott arrived in theaters and it’s viewed as an improvement after 2012 motion picture Prometheus which Ridley also directed.
With majority of new cast members and new settings, Covenant offers a new glimpse of a possible new heroine that was dubbed by the fans as „the new Ripley“ even before the movie arrived in theaters. I’m talking of course about Daniels Branson, played by Katherine Waterston. There are quite some similarities no doubt about that, and while I’m going to mention several of them, I’m going to put my emphasis on particularly one.
Branson unlike Ripley is a young widow at the very beginning in Covenant, and has a different rank among the crew members. Daniels (or Danny)s as she’s called by her pears is a terraforming expert aboard the Covenant while Ripley started as a warrant officer aboard the Nostromo. And while the premise of Covenant is very similar to that of Alien, let’s talk about the leading characters for a moment.
Both characters are played by actresses that not only are in their 30’s (Sigourney Weaver was 30 at the Alien premiere, while Waterson is 37), but both actresses are tall (Weaver is 6 feet tall, while Waterson is just shy of 5′ 11½” according to her IMDB profile) and slightly androgynous in their looks. With long limbs and short hair, both actresses look like they are even related. Smart choice from Scott must admit. But let’s go a little further.
If you dig a little further you’ll plainly see that both actresses are also children of people that were already in show business. Weaver is the only daughter of the ex-NBC executive and host Sylvester Weaver and his wife, the English actress, Elizabeth Inglis. Katherine on the other hand is the daughter of the Academy award nominated actor Sam Waterson and the former model Lynn Louisa, and following her father’s footsteps started an acting career in Hollywood.
But sitting in my chair at the movies, and watching Covenant, I couldn’t help but be a bit disappointed at how similar both of Ripley and Daniels’s characters are among the male dominated crew in their ships. Covenant has significantly more female characters that Alien (or its sequel Aliens) but like in those 2 films, nobody is taking the lead female characters seriously or even appreciates their expertise, opinion or even advise.
Ripley spent the entire 2 movies (Alien and Aliens) arguing with her male colleagues, following protocol and doing her job, while battling the ranks, egos and the bureaucracy suits. And she was right the whole time about pretty much everything. Not to let unconscious Kane back to the Nostromo for instance, cause most of her decisions are based on logic. And you can see almost the exact thing in Daniels’s… but this time in this years’s Covenant.
*Warning – spoiler:
Covenant space ship is on a colonization mission, and in the latest installment is headed for remote planet, Origae-6. In the meantime the crew on Nostronomo intercept a human radio transmission from a nearby unknown planet and despite Daniel’s objections they decide to visit that planet as a de-tour, and maybe as a new nearer/better colonization planet for their cargo. Bad choice considering the fact that very few will leave rainy planet alive, but you see my point.
Daniels was second in command to the religious first mate of the Covenant, Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup), and in spite of the objections, her judgment and expertize were overturn. Something we have seen for quite some time in the franchise. And let’s put the physical similarities of the two characters to the side. The character traits of the two strong and brave women are way to similar to ignore. They are both tall strong characters, and they are both unappreciated and looked down despite being capable and sane. I look forward for the next Alien movie to be honest. Maybe then someone will hear and respect Daniels.