While it is way beyond cliché to say that Hollywood hasn’t had an original idea in decades, it is certainly true that things seem to go in cycles. I’m sure that’s been the case since time immemorial, but I really became aware of it in the early 2000s, when superhero flicks seemed to be all the rage. Okay, that feels a bit weird to write since we now get a bevy of big-budget action films from the likes of DC Comics and Marvel Studios every year (and will until at least 2019), but that wasn’t really the case before Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man in 2002, which showed that there was indeed a market for films based on comic books. As is so often the case with things that do well at the box office, Spider-Man was promptly followed by two sequels (2004 and 2007), the Fantastic Four (2005) and its companion piece, 4: The Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007), and then Iron Man (2008), which has arguably led us to where we are now.
In amongst the superhero stories were paranormal ones, such as The Exorcism of Emily Rose (2005), Paranormal Activity (2009) and its many sequels, Insidious 1 and 2 (2010 and 2013), and Mama (2013), just to name a few. And who could forget our collective obsession with zombies, which have appeared on both the big (Zombieland  and Warm Bodies ) and small screen (AMC’s The Walking Dead and the CW’s iZombie) in recent years.
On top of these options, there have been a slew of remakes and reboots over the last few years, including of the aforementioned Spider-Man and Fantastic Four (thank you licensing agreements!). This year alone we’ll get new takes on The Jungle Book, Tarzan, and The Magnificent Seven, as well as Paul Feig’s all-female Ghostbusters.
Of course, exploring the final frontier also continues to be a popular mainstay for film studios, as evidenced by the upcoming movies Star Trek Beyond and Passengers. There are also magical options, such as Syfy’s The Magicians and Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them. And somewhat replacing the comic book when it comes to inspiration are video games, with releases later this year that are based on the stories of both World of Warcraft and Assassin’s Creed.
Yet while many of this year’s geekynerdy options fall into genre buckets that we’re used to seeing, there does seem to be one muse that is enjoying a bit of a comeback: aliens.
Though the entertainment industry has certainly turned to the extraterrestrial for thrills and chills in the past, it feels like it’s been awhile since we’ve seen our planet threatened by flying saucers. Not so anymore!
First, there was the premiere of Colony on USA, which was followed by the release of The 5th Wave in theaters on Friday. Two days later, we got to witness the brief return of The X-Files to Fox. And though Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice – out in March – falls more into the superhero category, there is no denying the alien origin of Krypton’s last son. Lastly (though I say that hesitantly since I’m sure there are films and shows that I’m missing), in June, we get to welcome aliens back to Earth in Independence Day: Resurgence, albeit without Will Smith. But unlike the little green men that have visited us in the past, these aliens seem to be more menacing, more bent on our complete annihilation than anything else. Which is comforting, I know.
None of this, however, is to suggest that I’m not looking forward to any or all of the movies and television shows that I’ve mentioned above, because I most certainly am! It’s just that when you look over the various slates of entertainment options, it becomes quite clear that Hollywood seems to have found a certain formula to follow when it comes to green-lighting certain projects. And once seen, those similarities can’t be unseen. I guess, ultimately, the old saying holds true, “If it ain’t broke…” – or in this case, “If it brings in a decent amount of money” – “don’t fix it.”