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In the Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator franchise, the large volume of media available — much of it created at different times by different directors, authors or developers, often with little interaction between them — means that the series as a whole is filled with inconsistencies and contradictions that cannot be rationally or logically integrated. The issue of what is canon and what is not is arguably the largest stumbling block on Xenopedia. This is policy describes how such inconsistencies are to be handled on this wiki.
What is "Canon"?
In fiction, canon denotes the material that is accepted as part of the story in an individual fictional universe. The alternative terms "mythology" and "continuity" are often used in a similar context.
Just because a piece of media is set in the wider Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator universe, that does not necessarily make it canon. The term "canon" is used to describe the elements that are accepted as an authoritative part of that universe. The opposite of this would be "non-canon", which describes elements that, while based on or perhaps even directly linked to the official elements, are not considered to be official themselves. Fan fiction is a primary example of work that is considered non-canon. However, even some media officially endorsed and licensed by 20th Century Fox may not necessarily be canon.
Canon on Xenopedia
One of the reasons the concept of canon came into being is because, often, it would simply be impossible to integrate every event and piece of information from an entire fictional universe into a single coherent storyline. This is the case with the Alien vs. Predator universe, where multiple pieces of media provide contradictory or incompatible information. Thus, concessions have to be made when declaring what is true and what is not.
Ultimately, the final word on what is part of canon rests with 20th Century Fox. However, the studio has rarely attempted to clarify the issue officially, and so the decision as to what exactly qualifies as canon is often left to fans. The issue is muddied further by statements or opinions given by directors or writers, which may not necessarily correspond to what is intended by Fox. As such, Xenopedia has its own policy for dictating canon, based on a "hierarchy of canon" that is used to rank the significance of information from different sources.
The Hierarchy of Canon
Generally speaking, the media of the franchise is ranked as below, with the top tier representing the 'pinnacle' or baseline upon which everything else is built, the core sequence of events that are irrefutably true. Successive tiers are given reduced precedence in relation to this baseline. Essentially, information from media in the second tier that contradicts information from the first tier is considered non-canon, and so on down the list.
The hierarchy of canon used on this wiki is as follows:
- Theatrical films
- Video games
- Toys/other merchandise
However, even this list is not bulletproof. Elements within a single tier can and do contradict each other. For example, the setup of Weyland Industries seen in Alien vs. Predator does not match with that of Weyland Corp shown in Prometheus, despite both companies fulfilling the same role of progenitor to the Weyland-Yutani Corporation. Likewise, some media from lower tiers has been conclusively confirmed as canon by Fox, despite the fact it contradicts the theatrical film series, as is notably the case with Aliens: Colonial Marines.
As the issue of canon is frequently a complicated and fluid situation, it is often up to interpretation. It is a good idea to discuss any potentially incompatible information on an article's talk page. Some inconsistencies can be theoretically explained, and such theories may be proposed in the article, so long as they are based on empirical evidence and their unconfirmed or unofficial nature is made clear. However, other inconsistencies cannot be logically reconciled. Again, the degree to which a proposed reconciliation is possible or sensible is down to interpretation.
If you are at all unsure regarding contradictory information, feel free to ask an Administrator.
The Films Come First
The theatrical feature films are the baseline of the series' canon. The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, the films are where the franchises began, with Alien in 1979 and Predator in 1987. Secondly, the films may well be the only aspect of the series certain individuals have encountered. The movies have been watched by countless millions of people and are familiar to many; by comparison, the other media of the franchise is relatively obscure. It would therefore be illogical to reject information contained within the films in favour of details taken from a comic book.
Film alternate versions
Each of the four films in the Alien series has also been released in an alternative cut that includes additional/altered scenes that change or expand the movie's plot. As most of these contain at least some elements that contradict either the original theatrical version or the other films in the franchise, they are not considered canon. The one exception is the Special Edition of Aliens, which has been confirmed as the 'intended version' by director James Cameron and is congruous with both its theatrical release and the other entries in the franchise. Additionally many added elements from the Special Edition are now considered important plot points in the greater Alien franchise.
What If Something Is Not Canon?
Just because a piece of information has been deemed non-canon, that does not mean it is unworthy of being mentioned on Xenopedia. Any and all information from officially-licensed sources is welcome and, indeed, wanted. However, anything that contradicts canon should be clearly noted as such. The non-canon template can be used for this purpose.
One notable exception where non-canon information is explicitly not allowed on Xenopedia is fan fiction, as is laid out in the wiki's scope policy.
If in Doubt, Discuss
As stated previously, the issue of canon in the Alien, Predator and Alien vs. Predator franchises is a difficult one and largely down to interpretation. Therefore, it is always a good idea to discuss canon issues with other users on article talk pages if there is any doubt. In this way, a consensus can be reached after comparing and debating multiple viewpoints. Remember than any discussion should be kept civil, in line with Xenopedia's behavior policy.