When it comes to iconic military units in film, few have had the longevity and influence of the Colonial Marines sent to LV-426 in the 1986 sci-fi classic Aliens. Even decades later, the names of most of the Marines can be easily recited by fans. Almost every character was given a bit of development so that their losses stung just that much more than secondary characters usually would. How do they stack up against one another under fire? Aside from Vasquez, obviously, which Colonial Marine would you most want to have your back?
To determine how effective each Marine was in combat, a points system will be used. Any Xenomorph visibly or audibly (a scream counts) dispatched by a Marine adds one point, but a Marine dying loses a point, as does friendly fire or any other incident that directly results in another Marine's demise.
- 1814 VOTES
Weapons of choice: APC, M41A Pulse Rifle (+ grenade launcher), M240 Incinerator, M40 Grenades, power loader, maternal instinct
Cause of death: n/a (survives)
Combat efficiency score: 10
Ripley doesn't receive an official battlefield promotion, but she acquits herself well enough to save the day after the initial power planet encounter, keep the survivors functional, and survive the whole ordeal. Her first alien kill is the one she runs over with the APC when she goes back in for the marines in the hive. It’s a while before her next kill when she takes one down not long after learning how to use the Pulse Rifle and then uses it to jam the vent which seems pretty wasteful when you think about it. Vasquez could sure have used those rounds Ripley never fired.
Thanks mostly to Vasquez, the hive isn’t quite so populated upon her return to fetch Newt. She finishes off the face-hugger as soon as it hatches and two adult aliens nearby. She then takes a wrong turn to meet the queen in one of the most memorable scenes of the franchise. In the mayhem that follows, she takes down five of the queen’s guards and pretty much all of the eggs in the chamber, plus a whole lot of pre-eggs in that grotesque sac attached to the queen. To save a philosophical discussion on when an alien's life truly begins, we'll not count those in her final total. The ejection of the queen from the airlock takes her into double digits, just behind Vasquez. Not bad... for a human.
- 2807 VOTES
Weapons of choice: Ithaca 37 shotgun, M41A Pulse Rifle
Friendly fire penalty: 0 but causes 1 non-fatal acid spray on Hudson
Cause of death: n/a (wounded but survives the movie)
Combat efficiency score: 8
Hicks was initially played by James Remar but was replaced by Michael Biehn during filming, which meant he didn't go through the training the rest of the cast completed and didn't customize his armor. Hicks and Gorman are the only Marines whose first names don't match the names of the actors portraying them (Tip Tipping was born Timothy).
Hicks is shown to be quiet and extremely calm under pressure - he even falls asleep on the dropship on the way down (a smart move since he has a very long day in front of him). The only Marine to make it through the film, Hicks gets at least one alien with his shotgun in the hive (we hear an alien scream) before taking out another that rudely pokes its face into the door of the APC. With the loss of Apone and Gorman incapacitated, Hicks steps up to take charge along with Ripley.
In the second battle, he makes efficient use of the Pulse Rifle, taking down five. He gets one more at point-blank range in the elevator with Ripley but is wounded by the acid. Sedated by painkillers, he falls asleep again and misses the climactic battle between Ripley and the queen entirely.
- 3851 VOTES
Weapons of choice: one-liners, M56 Smartgun, M41A Pulse Rifle (and grenade launcher), Smith & Wesson Model 39 pistol, boot
Kills: 13 ( bare minimum)
Friendly fire penalty: 1
Cause of death: Grenade
Combat efficiency score: 11
Technically, you could say that since her smuggled ammunition causes the reactor to blow, any surviving aliens killed in the blast should go down as hers, but she takes out enough aliens over the course of the movie that we don't need to pad her stats any further. Like Drake, she probably gets quite a few off-screen kills in the hive, but we don’t see any until the withdrawal. She quickly kills one and then empties her ammo in another, which has the unfortunate effect of dousing Drake in acid. The nature of their intense relationship is never explicitly stated, but Drake's loss hits her the hardest.
She makes much shorter work of the second Facehugger in medical than Hudson, dispatching it with a single short controlled burst. In the second major encounter with aliens, she appears to get at least one with the pulse rifle right at the start. She's one of the only characters to actually make use of the pulse rifle's grenade launcher (Ripley is the other), taking at least three aliens out to buy some time for the rest of the team.
She continues to run up the score as she covers the retreat. She takes out at least the first alien to burst through the door as the survivors enter the vents. In her final moments, she finishes off four more before the ballsiest kill of the entire film, if not the franchise, when she empties a clip into the head of an alien pinned by her boot. It doesn’t perish right away, but we see its body being stepped over by another warrior, so we’re giving her that one, too. Unfortunately, the acid spray immobilizes her, and Gorman can't get her out in time. Most valuable Marine by an absolute mile.
- 4476 VOTES
Pvt. Mark Drake
Weapons of choice: M56 Smartgun, M240 Incinerator
Kills: 1 (actually shown but almost certainly more)
Cause of death: Acid spray
Combat efficiency score: 0
The smart gun operator probably downed scores of aliens in the squad’s retreat from the hive battle, but we only see one definite kill when he blows apart an alien with the last rounds in his clip. Given how easily the smart gun rips through aliens, there were almost certainly others. We don’t see any aliens fall victim to the flamethrower in his final moments, but it’s also likely he bagged a couple. His score is based solely on the number of definite kills seen in the movie, so it's way below what it probably should be.
- 5538 VOTES
Weapon of choice: M41A Pulse Rifle
Kills: 7 (minimum)
Cause of death: Unseen, most likely by the atmosphere processor explosion given the timeline but possibly via alien embryo
Combat efficiency score: 6
This is where keeping score gets tricky, even putting the sentry gun question to one side. We don't see him get any aliens in the hive battle, so his first definite kill of the movie is the Facehugger trapped by Newt in medical. He uses way too much ammo to finish it off, but it shows an important turning point in his character development.
He gets an unusually well-developed arc for a secondary character in an action movie, going from overconfident to on the verge of a breakdown before stepping up for the second encounter with the aliens. His redemption is completed with a defiant last stand.
If the screams heard each indicate a kill, he bags at least six in less than a minute before he’s cruelly snatched from below. Game over man... game over.
- 6415 VOTES
Weapon of choice: M240 Incinerator (taken from Frost)
Cause of death: Unseen, either via alien embryo or by the atmosphere processor explosion
Combat efficiency score: 0
Another Colonial Marine with real-life military experience. Al Matthews served in the US Marine Corps, seeing combat in Vietnam and rising to the rank of sergeant. Gorman is the commanding officer, but as the senior NCO, Apone runs the platoon. His loss is keenly felt by both Gorman and the remaining Marines in the hive. He shares at least one kill in the movie along with Dietrich, although he might have bagged one or two more off-screen. He's snatched up by an alien while trying to make sense of Gorman's orders. Like Dietrich, his actual demise came at an unspecified moment later on.