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I am a Sci-fi fan but not that much into horror and that is probably why I have seen Alien (1979) just a few months ago. I enjoyed it and was going to watch the next one but am know puzzled because there are so many movies and I don't know where to start.

As far as I get it right there are four storylines:

  • 4 movies in original series: Alien (1979), Aliens (1986), Alien 3 (1992) and Alien Resurrection (1997)
  • 4 movies in the Predator series: Predator (1987),Predator 2 (1990), Predators (2010) and The Predator (2018)
  • 3 movies in Crossover series: Alien vs. Predator (2004), Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007) and The Predator (2018)
  • 2 movies in the Prequel series: Prometheus (2012) and Alien: Covenant (2017)

But in what order to watch this all? Does the order even matter that much?

So far I am quite confused where to start. For example, wiki does not even list the Predator as part of the Alien franchise but only the Alien vs. Predator movies. This seems odd to me. Further, I found lists that recommend in what order to watch the movies but the lists refer to the different storylines individually. For example, see here a list that only says how to watch the original Alien series, leaving out everything else or see here a source that says how to watch the alien movies, the Predator movies and the Alien vs. Predator movies, i.e. this source makes suggestions for each storyline individually. But in what order to watch all this movies listed above?

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    I don't think that Predator (2018) is a crossover
    – Yasskier
    Jul 17 at 22:56
  • I found this timeline containing the Alien movies as well as short films, novels and so on, which may be of interest to those reading this question. Jul 20 at 5:24

2 Answers 2

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Watch each series separately in the release date order

While all the movies within the series follow each other (i.e. "Aliens" is a direct continuation of "Alien"), the relation between different series is relatively loose, and it doesn't matter that much. What's more, it sometimes contradicts itself - for example, the first "Alien vs Predator" tells that xenomorphs exist for at least thousands of years (as Predators used to hunt them on Earth in ancient times), but the "Prometheus" suggests that they are a new specie artificially created quite recently (recently to the events of the original "Alien").

Originally, the "Predator" universe was completely separate from the "Alien" franchise, that is until the "Predator II" movie, when the director decided to place xenomorph skull among the trophies in the Predator ship

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This started a whole series of "Alien vs Predator" comic series, which was suggesting that Predators kidnap alien Queens and then use their eggs to "seed" xenomorphs for the ritualistic hunt. The same concept was used in many computer games, starting from the "Alien vs Predator"in 1993.

The crossover movies seem to follow the same idea: Predators use humans as hosts for xenomorphs and then hunt the latter (occasionally killing some unlucky human). Those movies have just a tiny connection to the original franchise in the form of the names of some characters: In the first AvP Lance Henriksen plays a rich entrepreneur Charles Bishop Weyland, while in "Aliens/Aliens 3" he plays android "Bishop" and the company that Ripley works for is called "Weyland-Yutani" (the latter name is used in the "AvP Requiem" exactly once).

So Tl;dr:

  • Watch the "Aliens" series
  • Watch the "Predator" series
  • Watch the crossovers
  • If you really, really have to, watch the "Prometheus" series.

If you insist of watching it all in chronological order (which doesn't really matter between the series) then watch:

  • Predator (1987)
  • Predator II
  • Alien vs Predator
  • Alien vs Predator: Requiem
  • Predators (arguably this can be anywhere after "Predator 2" but before Prometheus)
  • Predator (2018)
  • Prometheus
  • Alien: Covenant
  • Alien
  • Aliens
  • Alien 3
  • Alien Resurrection

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    The upcoming Predator: Prey would come first in the chronological list, since it is set in the 1700s. But that film is not released yet.
    – ruffdove
    Jul 20 at 1:36
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Watch them in the order they were made.

There is nothing wrong with Yasskier's answer, but I will offer a third option to go with the two he suggests: watch the films in the order they were made. Alien first, Aliens second, Predator third, etc. There are a couple of reasons why this is a good way to watch them.

  1. The later films were made with the assumption that a large part of the audience saw the preceding films. Therefore, exposition of lore is optimized if you watch the movies in the order they were released. You will also avoid spoilers. In addition, when the movies start to break the lore, like Prometheus did, you will recognize it as the lore being broken and not established. This will keep you from being confused by watching earlier movies afterward.

  2. It is quite possible that you will love every one of these movies from beginning to end. It is even possible that you'll think the later movies are better than the earlier ones. But talking to fans you will find a loose consensus around the belief that both the Alien and Predator franchises suffer from diminishing returns as time goes on. Watching them in the order they were made ensures that you'll see what are widely considered the best movies first (you've already done so with Alien) and when the ideas start to get tired and stale, you can abandon this project without subjecting yourself to things like Alien: Covenant, featuring Jussie Smollett's second worst performance.

You state that you are not that into horror, but obviously you have an appreciation for good horror since you liked Alien. You will very likely find that many of the later movies aren't good enough to trump your lukewarm attitude toward horror. It would be a shame if you missed Aliens or the first two Predator movies because you got turned off by watching some of the other stuff first.

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    +1 For your comments about the performance. Even the disliked Alien: resurrection is a masterpiece in comparison to Covenant and Predator (2018) looks like made for a PG audience.
    – Yasskier
    Jul 20 at 6:14

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