- "What do you mean, "They cut the power?" How could they cut the power, man? They're animals!"
The Soldier, also referred to as the Warrior, is the Xenomorph's second stage of maturity after progressing through the chestburster stage. They serve as the hive's primary attack force with the primary function of protecting the Queen and the Eggs. They are fast, reasonably tough, and savage combatants. Even in death the Warrior is dangerous, bursting apart when killed and drenching nearby enemies in acid.
After progressing through the first Xenomorph phase, the Soldier stands at around eight feet in height and about 14-16 feet in length, tail included. It is black in color, with a long, segmented tail and a secondary set of jaws inside its mouth, which it can use to maim or kill prey. They are shown to possess incredible strength- enough to break down metal pressure doors and easily punch through Armored Quartz, which withstands above 160,000 pounds per square inch compressive force. Warriors can blend into the surrounding spaces in their hives as well other terrain, making them difficult to detect until they attack, although all Xenomorphs can do this as well.
The most visible difference in Soldiers from other Xenomorphs is the ridged head. The head carapace is also harder than that of Drones, allowing them to ram into targets.
When a Xenomorph Soldier is killed by weapons that cause massive physical trauma, its pressurized bloodstream causes the creature to explode, showering the surrounding area with very deadly concentrated molecular acid. Napalm weaponry or high powered energy weapons that produce high levels of heat, if used successfully, will leave a charred mass, and will cause the acid to turn into a extremely toxic vapor that is lethal if inhaled. Their acidic blood is capable of causing severe injury to humans, causing the death or injury of several colonial marines during their investigation of Hadley's Hope when they strayed too close a dying Warrior. Remarkably, the blood is incapable of hurting other Xenomorphs.
In some cases, the Soldier can evolve into a different form, which has very large blades on the top and bottom of the tail, with large blades on the elbows and calves as well. Soldiers are shown to be extremely agile, as they are capable of navigating through vents, crawly up walls, and swiftly navigating large areas. They can also leap a very large distance, allowing them to pounce on unsuspecting enemies.
They have been known to employ stealth tactics, and are able to blend into their surrounding environment, particularly within the Hive, before ambushing targets. However, they more often employ direct assaults and swarm attacks, using sheer weight of numbers to overwhelm defenses and subdue their prey. While this behavior often leads to high casualty rates against prepared opponents, it brings with it distinct psychological benefits with regards to enemy morale. It is not clear whether such reckless attacks represent a diminished intelligence on the part of the Soldier when compared to the more stealthy Drones, or whether it is a result of influence from the Queen.
Despite this, Soldiers clearly possess some ability to plan and adapt; for example, in Hadley's Hope they were shown to be capable of cutting power to certain areas of the colony, finding openings in their opponents' defenses, and successfully sneaking up on victims even when they were on guard and at full alert.
Behind the Scenes
When it came to filming the sequel to Alien, director James Cameron wanted to update the titular creature's design, reshaping it for war whilst at the same time staying true to the Alien seen in the first film  Of the alterations to the design, special effects designer Stan Winston commented, "We tried to be as true to the original film as we could, without disallowing ourselves a little bit of artistic freedom to do things that we considered — if not improvements — something to keep your head above water, so you're not just doing what was done before." Given that the original creature's designer H. R. Giger was busy working on Poltergeist II, Cameron chose not to pursue him for his input, a decision that upset Giger at the time.
The most obvious design alteration from the first creature was the removal of the domed carapace. Originally, the Warriors were to have domed heads like the original Alien, and an early prototype was built with just such a carapace, but Cameron's fears that the fragile dome would break during filming led to it being removed. Cameron also confessed to preferring the ridged design created by Winston's team, which was originally to be partially concealed beneath the dome. As the removal of the dome meant the Alien's skull would be exposed, the human eye sockets located in the front of the original creature's head — but largely concealed beneath its dome — were also removed, in order to preserve what Winston dubbed "the Alien's eyeless menace". However, not every trace of the sockets was deleted, and upon close inspection, small indentations can be seen in the front of the Soldier's head. Other more subtle changes to the Warrior included longer talons on the hands, altered feet more suited to the creature's new wall-climbing abilities and blade-like protrusions on the creature's elbows.
Suits and puppets
Immediately recognizing the limitations of the suit used in the first movie — in particular its expense and restricted range of movement — Cameron and special effects designer Stan Winston chose to adopt a far simpler approach. The majority of the Xenomorphs in Aliens were created from flexible latex body suits with Xenomorph appliances affixed over the top. This allowed the stuntmen playing the creatures to be far more mobile and aggressive in their movements. Selective camera angles and lighting were then used to hide the relatively crude suits, the emphasis being on merely suggesting the look and shape of the creature rather than over-exposing it. As a result, the dark body suit remained hidden in shadow, with only the highlights of the Xenomorphs' exoskeleton visible in the strobing lights and muzzle flare. Thanks to the new highly mobile outfits, shots of the Xenomorphs bounding along walls and through airshafts — ideas originally planned for Alien but dropped due to the limitations of the film's suit — could be realized in the sequel. Due to budget limitations, the production could only afford to build twelve Warrior suits.
The Soldier suits were crafted and constructed by Tom Woodruff, Jr., John Rosengrant, Julian Caldow, Nigel Booth, Lindsay McGowan and David Keen. As well as these simple suits, a number of far more detailed plastic and foam rubber examples were created for the shots where the creatures are seen more clearly. For particularly violent scenes of Warriors being blown to pieces by gunfire, static models were used and fitted with pyrotechnic charges that would release chemicals simulating the creatures' acid blood. Lastly, a completely articulated upper torso with mechanical lips, tongue and jaw was built for close-ups.
The making of the Soldier
Creature creator Stan Winston and his lead FX mechanic, Richard Landon, prepare the hero Alien Warrior puppet for its debut on set at Pinewood Studios.
To make the cable-actuated Xenomorph puppet more maneuverable, the SWS crew loaded the cables and controllers onto a wagon so they could quickly reposition the cable-controlled Alien to perform wherever director James Cameron wanted it to.
Unlike the slow-moving horror of the original Alien from Alien as established by Ridley Scott, James Cameron created a film in which the Xenomorphs would be fast, active & dynamic.
To achieve the range of action and mobility required by Cameron's vision, the Stan Winston Studio team created many different versions of the Aliens depending on whatever the shot called for: hero insert puppets with articulated upper torso, mechanical lips, tongue and jaw for closeups; lightweight black "Alien" leotards covered in polyfoam for stunt performers to wear in action shots; and poseable alien warrior figures for blowing up, setting on fire, running over & for stunts too dangerous for stuntmen to perform.
In the final film, even though Stan Winston and his team only built 12 Warrior suits, James Cameron managed to create the illusion of "an entire army", and make FX history, by "using every trick in the book."
- James Cameron stated in the Aliens commentary that Warriors are indeed the adult form of the Alien.
- Warriors seem to be capable of delivering a deadly neurotoxin from their tail, as displayed in the original shooting script for Aliens and the novelization that both featured a scene in which Lieutenant Gorman is "stung" by a Warrior's barb tail and was rendered unconscious.
- James Cameron, Gale Anne Hurd, Gordon Carroll, David Giler, Walter Hill, Stan Winston. Superior Firepower: The Making of Aliens [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Jody Duncan. (2006). The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio. Titan Books, 85.
- Jody Duncan. (2006). The Winston Effect: The Art and History of Stan Winston Studio. Titan Books, 88.