217 – Cool Aliens

The Mythcreant Podcast
We’re not saying this podcast is about aliens, but it’s about aliens. Specifically, what makes aliens cool and how that is different when you’re talking about alien characters vs alien monsters. We go over options for making aliens feel unique and cool while also keeping them relatable and then talk about what happens when you go too far in either direction. We also discuss some our favorites, which is mostly Oren ranting about alien hive-mind dogs, if we’re being honest.

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Opening and closing theme: The Princess Who Saved Herself by Jonathan Coulton. Used with permission.

Show Notes:

Old Man’s War





Man of Steel

Deep Space Nine


Mass Effect


A Fire Upon the Deep






Guardians of the Galaxy



The High Crusades


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  1. Innes

    It does but me that often male coded aliens look much more alien than the female coded ones. It’s especially evident in mass effect where Garrus and wrex both look really alien and have visible inhuman bodies but liara is just woman, but blue and tali is just woman, but with helmet.

    • Chris Winkle

      Oh yeah, the requirement for female coded characters to always be attractive is really a problem. It also bothered me a lot in Mass Effect specifically. The game was clearly designed to give straight men a bunch of super hot human-looking romance options.

      • BeardedLizard

        I think they tried to “correct” this (volontarily or no) with Thane, by offering some kind of equivalent for their female audience. He alway reminded me of the dark and brooding love interest archetype (Like Engel in Buffy or so many other).

        PS: Let’s all agree that their is no photograph of Tali. Ever. It never happenned xD

        • Chris Winkle

          I would have liked Thane but… fish face. I’m not saying you shouldn’t have aliens with fish faces, but considering all the feminine love interests have human looking faces,* that still seemed really double-standard-ish to me.

          * Even with Tali, you can imagine her face looks like whatever you want (because there is no picture. Nope). All you can see is the outline of eyes that look vaguely elven, which is pretty attractive in itself.

          • BeardedLizard

            I agree with you. Even if Thane is the most “sexualized” alien male aboard the Normandy, he’s still a thousand times more alien-looking than Liara or Tali.

            Also, I’ve just realised that we never see any of the other species females. We see one female Turian, one female Krogan, but no female Salarian, Volus, Batarian or Drell. And we see quite a lot of some of those species.

      • Dvärghundspossen

        I remember I saw a comic strip once making fun of this. They had a bunch of alien races where the males always were monster-like, but in radically different ways, whereas the females always looked like hot human women with some tiny detail (like horns, tail or the like) added on. They were discussing how weird humans are, since we’re the only species where “the males don’t look like anything”.

        • Cay Reet

          Imagine human space travellers meeting a species of intelligent deep-sea fish people and asking the captain of the ship why there’s only men on his ship and he’s like “what do you mean? About half my crew is female, including my first mate. Don’t you see that the fins on her lower arms have an odd number of spikes, as with all females, and that her upper teeth are as long as her lower teeth, also a typical female trait?” (Note: imagine that species having long, needle-like teeth, like viper fish or angler fish on earth.)

          • BeardedLizard

            Even worst. Imagine if they encounter spaces angler fish. The females are large and threatening while the males are nothing more than a literal swimming testicul that fuses into the female’s body to release it’s sperm.

            “Excuse me Ma’am, I think you’ve got something on your chin”.
            “Don’t worry, that’s Frank. He’s my 3rd husband”.

          • Cay Reet


            What I wanted to point out with my post was more ‘another species than humans might have a completely different idea what male/female members look like.’ I chose fish, because they’re not mammals, so the females have no mammaries (and thus they’re hardly likely to develop boobs). And I thought that the longer upper teeth might be useful when the female is feeding the young, because they make catching more fish easier.

  2. SunlessNick

    It’s the Donner/Reeve Superman who killed Zod for no reason, not the Snyder/Cavill one.

    Re Asgardians, in the Thor films, we see both Heimdall and Valkyrie beat up spaceships in melee, and in Agents of SHIELD we see Sif and a former Asgardian soldier show super strength.

    There was an old io9 article that described Mass Effect as the most important science fiction universe in recent decades. One of the reasons it gave was that due to the medium, it’s to harder to render an alien than a human – so you can walk around the Citadel space station and see half a dozen humans in the thronging crowds.

    • Dvärghundspossen

      Yeah, like… that death was pretty horrible. At least Cavill Superman was presented as being in a really tight spot and killing Zod in desperation, whereas Reeves Superman calmly offed Zod when he had lost his powers already.

  3. Sam Victors

    Have you ever heard of The Midwich Cuckoos bu John Wyndham? (adapted twice into films called Village of the Damned).

    Basically a spaceship visits a quaint English (American in the second adaptation) village, puts all the people to sleep for hours, the (child-bearing) village women found themselves to be pregnant, and gave birth to these strange, cold, unemotional, golden-eyed, narrow-nailed, telepathic children who are extremely concerned about their survival, that they would kill anyone for even the slightest attack against them.

  4. Armando M

    Just to add on the superman section.
    There are instances when the sun has played a role in superman comics.
    From the top of my head not too long ago there was this fight against Zod where they where pretty even, however Apollo being mad at Superman dating wonder woman directed sunlight in a better way to Zod giving him an edge on the fight (And “Supes” did basically loose that one). It is convoluted but is an instance of the sun being present as a story factor that mattered.

    The idea that he can be on other planets is supported on that last point, however the red sun does deplete him (it doesn’t just not power him but also neuters the energy he already has), in a couple comics he stays too long without recharging after being depowered and it takes a while to reach full power (for you that seem to better watch the movies than the comics i would recommend the second part of the dark knight returns where after a blast he gets hurt and has trouble replenishing himself without the sunlight)

    Also, he can store the energy for a long time.”New 52 superman” had this
    scene where he was benching the equivalent of earth’s weight for a couple days straight and he began to sweat since he received no sunlight in that period (confirming he needs the sunlight to maintain power level however a single night wont harm him greatly). Also his battery runs down faster with some abilities (like heat vision) if i recall correctly, he even had this “Solar Flare” power that made him powerless for around a day (more if it was used by night) by releasing his energy ( although it kinda damaged him and was part of his final undoing).

  5. Bellis

    One thing to be aware of, especially when contrasting aliens and humans:
    It’s annoying and sometimes insulting when they treat something that (some) humans do as alien (communicating via sign language or certain cultural values or ways of life or minor physical differences from the “norm”) or something that only certain humans do as universally human (like handshakes or specific english idioms or having binary genders).

    Star Trek does this a lot and sometimes I’m like, how can they present something as universally human that’s so specific to one culture in one time and place that even my culture differs on it, though it’s very close.

    They do have a scene where Odo tells Kira that maybe he only looks like a convincing eagle to her and that other eagles may find him totally off. Obviously the real reason is that it would have been impossible to put that kind of makeup on an actual animal for filming. In later seasons it’s implied that he choses to make his face like that because he doesn’t want to assimilate to the point of denying his actual origin anymore. Or maybe that’s just my headcanon

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