While the menacing, horrifying and downright awesome Aliens
are often credited as the villains of the Alien
movies (consisting of Alien
, Alien: Resurrection
and Alien vs. Predator
) the Weyland Yutani Corporation is just as much of a villain in the movies. While the Aliens
kill humans with absolutely no regard, Weyland Yutani Corp. commits acts that are nearly as, if not just as ruthless and wrong as the Aliens
do throughout the series.
*****SPOILER ALERT for all five "Alien" films*****
Weyland Yutani Corp. is only referred to as "The company" in the Alien films. The actual name makes very few appearances on screen, and each time it does, it's a definite blink and you miss it moment. In the first film, it appears at the bottom of one of the computer monitors during the landing sequence on LV-426. In the later films logos are briefly seen, yet it is never mentioned by name and most of the logos are still hard to find. It is featured most prominently in the directors cut of Aliens when a child playing around at the Hadley’s Hope Colony (the one invaded by the creatures) rides his toy bike past a clearly readable Weyland Yutani sign.
The origin of the name Weyland Yutani was thought up by original Alien director Ridley Scott after two old neighbors he once had that he hated.
The Weyland Yutani Corp. was founded by Charles Bishop Weyland and chronologically in the series is first heard of in the present day setting of Alien vs. Predator. Yet it is then only known as Weyland Corp, suggesting that maybe there was a business partner somewhere along the line. There is a scene that was written but never filmed had a scene with a character named John Yutani. It is assumed that although they don’t have their slogan of “Building Better Worlds” yet, they are primarily a research and exploration company. When Weyland Satellite X2037 picks up an odd signal coming deep under thousands of feet of ice in the Antarctic, Weyland Corp. sends a team of qualified archeological experts and a ice climbing expert deep underneath the ice to investigate. Although frequently urged by the ice climber Alexa Woods to not interfere with the incredible pyramid they find deep underneath the ice, Weyland Corp. officials and Mr. Weyland himself continue with the mission. They encounter two deadly species and Woods ends up being the only survivor of the mission. Founder Charles Bishop Weyland himself is murdered by a Predator.
In the distant future, when the original Alien takes place, an eight person crew on a Weyland Yutani deep space mining ship titled the Nostromo is heading back home when they are awakened from their hypersleep to investigate a distress call from the desolate planet LV-426. When exploring the planet, one of the ship's crew, Kane, becomes a host for the creature and it bursts out of his chest. After it begins to kill off members of the Nostromo, another one of the ship's crew, Ellen Ripley, discovers that Weyland Yutani sent them on a mission to retrieve the creature for their chemical weapons research, the survivor of the Alien was necessary and yet the crew was "expendable." She also discovers that to secure the success of this mission, Weyland Yutani sent a synthetic android (Ash) as one of the crew members to make sure the mission goes as planned. Its orders were "Bring back life form. Priority One. All other priorities rescinded." Eventually, Ellen Ripley, the lone survivor of the Nostromo crew eliminates the Alien and goes into hypersleep.
When Ellen Ripley wakes up from hypersleep in Aliens she is on a Weyland Yutani ship and it's been 57 years since the Nostromo incident. By this time, Weyland Yutani has a colony on LV-426 with hundreds of colonists living and working there, despite them being fully aware of the Alien presence on the planet. One day (according to the Director's Cut) they make the order, that we are to assume is like many orders, to explore a relatively unknown location on LV-426. They send the Jorden family to the site of where the first facehugger attacked Kane in the first movie on a "Don't ask" policy. They lose contact with LV-426 and plan a squad of Marines companied by Weyland Yutani executive Carter Burke and Ellen Ripley herself. An Alien outbreak has occurred, they are now over the colony and have killed everyone there with the exception of a little girl named Rebecca Jorden, who goes by the nickname "Newt." When Ripley makes the suggestion to nuke the LV-426 site, Burke says he can't let her do that for financial reasons, yet the jurisdiction of the investigation was military so Burke's word doesn't matter. Then Burke, under orders from Weyland Yutani gives Bishop, an android modeled after the corporation's founder, orders to bring back any evidence of the Alien to study. When Ripley approaches him about this, he informs her that the study of this creature would be worth an incredible amount of money to the company and that Ripley and he could share a sizable chunk of that money if they are responsible for bringing back the Alien. Ripley, of course, disagrees. Yet while Ripley and Newt are sleeping in an isolated room, Burke releases two facehuggers into where they are in a futile attempt to impregnate the two so he could bring back two Alien life forms undetected, so he could pass through any security checkpoints that would lie along his way back to the Weyland Yutani ship. He was also plotting to eliminate the remaining Marines and Bishop until his plan was discovered. Most of the crew sent onto LV-426 is killed by the Aliens and the survivors, Newt, Ripley, Cpl. Dwayne Hicks and the Bishop android nuke the planet and escape back to the USS Sulaco ship. Unfortunately, a Queen Alien latches herself onboard the ship and severely damages Bishop before she is sent out into space via an airlock by Ripley. The survivors are all sent into hypersleep.
The opening of Alien³ shows an egg hatching a facehugger on the USS Sulaco ship where the survivors are in hypersleep. The facehugger is cut and its acid blood burns the sub flooring on the ship, resulting in an electrical fire, which forced the cryo-tubes to eject and crash land on the planet Fiornia 166, better known as Fury 166, an outer veil mineral ore refinery and double Y chromosome correctional facility owned and operated by Weyland Yutani Corp. While on the planet, Weyland Yutani informs the guardians at the prison that they are coming to rescue Ellen Ripley, the lone survivor of the crash landing, in a week. Yet another Alien begins killing off those on Fury 166. When they have the Alien trapped, Weyland Yutani Corp. denies them permission to eliminate the "xenomorph." Then when Ripley boots up what's left of the Bishop android and questions it about how the Alien got there, Bishop does confirm that there was an Alien onboard the Sulaco. When asked “Is it on the Sulaco, or did it come with us on the E.E.V?" Bishop replies that it was with them "all along." He also tells her that Weyland Yutani knew about everything that happened on the ship. Later on, Ripley gives herself an ultrasound and finds that she is carrying an Alien herself. Weyland Yutani Corp. sends Fury 166 the following message:
EEV 2650 NEUROSCAN DATA RECEIVED
EXPEDITING MEDIVAC TEAM ARRIVAL WITHIN TWO HOURS
ABSOLUTE HIGHEST PRIORITY LT. RIPLEY BE QUARANTINED UNTIL ARRIVAL
Yet Ripley along with the help of inmates Morse and Dillon eliminates the Alien that was killing all the prisoners. Just as she is figuring out how to now eliminate herself and the Alien inside of her, Weyland Yutani arrives on Fury 166. The man who created Bishop is there (meaning Lance Henriksen technically plays three different characters in the Alien movies) and tells Ripley that they have a surgical bay ready to remove the Alien from her, and that they will destroy it at once. When Ripley asks how she can be guaranteed they'll destroy it, the man from Weyland Yutani tells her she'll just have to trust him. When Ripley refuses to trust him, company hired soldiers fire upon a man helping Ripley get away from them and then kill one of the prison workers trying to defend Ripley and in the act, badly injuring the man who created Bishop. In desperation, the man pleads with Ripley, urging her that they'd learn so much from it and that it is a "magnificent specimen." Regardless, Ripley plunges to her death as the man screams out in agony.
Somewhere along the line, Weyland Yutani Corp. dissolved, as noted in Alien: Resurrection, which takes place 200 years after Ripley dies. One of the original scripts for that movie had Weyland Yutani Corp. being bought out by Wal-Mart. In Alien: Resurrection, the fourth film of five films in the order of their release yet the one taking place furthest into the future, the United Systems Military has taken all responsibility Weyland Yutani once had and clones a new Ripley and new Aliens using bits of Ripley's blood found on Fury 166.
The Alien movies aren't chock full of sharp satire like the original Dawn of the Dead or the Robocop movies. Yet the Weyland Yutani Corp. can be interpreted as a metaphor for big business conglomerates having little regard for their smaller, blue collar employees (Ellen Ripley for example) and making immoral decisions just to continue the success for a selected few.