The Queen is the matriarch of the Aliens' Hive, serving as both the mother and leader of her brood. The Queen is usually nestled deep within the hive, birthing eggs to ensure the expansion of the hive, while her Drones and Soldiers provide protection for her and hunt preys that are brought before her. Individual Alien Queens vary in size, age, and appearance.
Unlike her offspring, the Queen is much larger, generally standing at the height of around 4.5 metres (15 ft) tall. Queens possess several attributes and characteristics that greatly differs from that of the normal castes, having two pairs of arms, one large and one small. The Queen also has high-heel-like protrusions from its feet. Rather than a cylindrical, elongated skull, the Queen's head is protected by a large, flat carapace, which somewhat resembles a crown. Unlike the other Aliens, the Queen's mouth is separately segmented from the rest of her head, allowing her to turn her mouth left and right almost to the point where it is facing perpendicular to the direction of the rest of her head. Despite these drastic differences, Queens still possess the Aliens' signature characteristics, such as the "inner jaws" and bladed tail, which they also use as impaling weapons.
Much like insects found in the real-world, Queens possess an enormous ovipositor on their lower torso to produce more eggs. Unlike insect queens, there appears to be no need for the eggs to be fertilized. While laying her eggs, both the Queen and the ovipositor are supported by the Aliens' secreted resin, forming a "biomechanical throne" that consists of a lattice of struts resembling massive insect legs. Owing to the size and weight of the ovipositor, the Queen is rendered immobile and thus is dependent on her subordinates for assistance and protection. In the event that the Queen faces imminent danger, she can detach herself from her ovipositor, though this can prove painful for her.
Among the Aliens' caste, Queens possess higher intelligence as there have been instances where they have been shown to be capable of operating man-made machinery. The Queen also appear to fully understand humans actions and behavior, even so far as to be capable to communicate and even "bargain" with humans. This instance is shown when the Acheron Queen ordered her Soldiers to back away from Ripley when she threatened her eggs with a flamethrower, "offering" Ripley a chance to escape her Hive without conflict.
The Queen is also shown to be capable of expressing forms of emotions, such as anger and affection beyond any purely instinctual behavior. An example of this is when the Queen showed concerns over her eggs under threat by Ripley and attempted to "negotiate" with her to leave on neutral terms. When Ripley broke their "agreement" and proceeded to incinerate most of her children, the Queen screamed in agony. The Queen then relentlessly pursued both Ripley and Newt with the intent to kill them, even going so far as to hide herself in the landing gear of their dropship and follow them back to the USS Sulaco.
Appearances in other Media
Dark Horse Comics
The following information follows the continuity from Dark Horse Comics' Aliens comics and all related media, therefore unrelated to the primary continuity.
Queens appeared in Dark Horse Comics' Aliens comic book series, set on an alternate continuity following the events of Aliens. They play major roles in numerous stories. In the first Aliens comic, the Earth-based Bionational Corporation had successfully obtained a live Queen and held her captive in their Lima facility. Unfortunately a group of Alien Cultists led by Salvaje attacked the facility, which allowed the Queen to escape and became the catalyst for the Aliens' infestation on Earth. In the second comic, rogue Colonial Marine General Thomas Spears held a Queen captive in his base, using her to breed himself an Alien Army.
Behind the Scenes
Concept and design
The Queen was first introduced in the 1986 film Aliens, designed by director James Cameron, in collaboration with special effects artist Stan Winston, based upon an initial painting Cameron had done at the start of the project. Cameron wanted to fulfill the mystery of where the Aliens' eggs came from since Alien omitted the original life cycle, which would have depicted the Alien cocooning its victims to convert them into eggs. Cameron adapted the Queen from a concept he had initially conceived for his earlier script called Mother, which featured a female genetically engineered creature attempting to ensure the survival of its young.