- "It's game time."
- ―Cpl. Hicks (from Aliens)
Corporal Dwayne Hicks was a member of the United States Colonial Marine Corps, part of 2nd Battalion Bravo Team. He was a member of the combat unit deployed to LV-426 aboard the USS Sulaco in 2179, to investigate the sudden loss of contact with the colony of Hadley's Hope. He was subsequently involved in combating the Xenomorph infestation at the colony.
Hicks was part of Second Squad's gun team, along with Private Drake, and was also the squad's leader and Motion Tracker operator. When the unit's commanding officer, Lieutenant Gorman, was incapacitated, Hicks took overall charge of the mission as the ranking Marine. He was the only Marine to survive the incident, alongside two civilians, Ellen Ripley and Rebecca Jorden, and the USCM android Lance Bishop, who was badly damaged. He was later captured by the Weyland-Yutani Corporation and taken back to LV-426 where he was tortured for information regarding the mission to Hadley's Hope and the Xenomorphs, but was eventually freed by Marines from the USS Sephora.
Mission to LV-426
- "It's a bug hunt."
- ―Hicks, regarding the mission (from Aliens)
Under the command of the inexperienced Lieutenant Gorman, Hicks and his unit were dispatched to Hadley's Hope along with two civilian advisors: Weyland-Yutani representative Carter Burke and Ellen Ripley, the sole survivor of the USCSS Nostromo, which had set down on LV-426 57 years previously and discovered a deadly alien lifeform there. Hicks shared in the general consensus among the Marines — that the mission was a waste of time, and that they were simply going to discover a communications breakdown at the colony. During the drop, Hicks slept despite the extreme g-forces and turbulence.
Upon landing, Hicks and the rest of Second Squad began clearing the upper floor of the central administrative building, where the Corporal found evidence of the Xenomorph infestation in the form of holes burned in the floor by their acid blood. After the building was declared clear and Gorman and the advisors had joined the Marines inside, Hicks and his squad discovered several Facehuggers being stored inside the colony's med lab, along with medical notes on Marachuk, one of the creatures' victims. Soon afterwards, they found Newt, a young girl hiding in the structure's ventilation ducts and, apparently, the last surviving colonist.
The other colonists were soon traced to the sub-levels of the colony's Atmosphere Processing Plant, and the Marines set out to investigate. It was here that they first discovered the Xenomorph Hive, its secreted resin covering the inside of the Atmosphere Processor's lower levels. Despite their apprehension and a lack of knowledge in what they were dealing with, the Marines moved inside. Hicks himself voiced his concerns about where the obviously organic structure could have come from, a question that no one could answer. To make matters worse, Gorman ordered all of the Marines to unload their Pulse Rifles and deactivate the unit's two Smartguns to prevent stray gunfire causing potentially catastrophic damage to the Atmosphere Processor's fusion reactor. Hicks had no choice but to comply, and subsequently drew his trusty backup Ithaca Model 37 to defend himself.
The colonists were soon located, cocooned to the walls and victims to Chestburster births. Hicks himself took note of the empty Eggs and rotten Facehugger carcasses that littered the area. One of the colonists, Mary, was found to be alive, although she was killed almost immediately when the Chestburster inside her emerged. Sergeant Apone and Corporal Dietrich torched the creature, but its dying screams awoke the Warriors in the Hive, and within moments the Marines were under attack.
In the ensuing chaos, Hicks along with Private Tim Crowe and Private Trevor Wierzbowski ran to the aid of Frost and Dietrich, not realizing the bag containing the section's confiscated Pulse Rifle ammunition was on fire at the scene. Immediately comprehending what was about to happen, Hicks pulled Wierzbowski from the rapidly cooking off ammunition satchel and ran for cover, managing to duck behind a pillar just as the ammunition detonated — the blast killed Crowe and badly wounded Wierzbowski when he failed to escape the blast radius in time. Hicks then tended to Wierzbowski and propped him against a wall before leaving briefly to check on Crowe. Just as Hicks discovered that Crowe was dead, Wierzbowski was attacked by a Xenomorph and dragged away screaming in terror, leaving Hicks calling his name in a vain effort to locate him.
As the mayhem continued, Hicks attempted to locate Apone, but learned that he had already been taken. With the unit falling apart, Hicks ordered the survivors to pull back, killing several Xenomorphs with his shotgun during the hasty, disorganized retreat; by the time the survivors reached the APC, more than half of their team had been killed or captured. Hicks was the last to board the APC, and was in the process of closing the door when a Warrior attempted to enter the cabin. No match for its strength even with Private Hudson and Private Vasquez assisting him, Hicks rammed his shotgun into the creature's mouth and blew the back of its head away, the creature's acidic blood wounding Hudson in the process.
During the escape from the Atmosphere Processor, Gorman was knocked unconscious by loose items in the APC, effectively leaving Hicks as the acting commander of the mission. Ripley and Hicks quickly formulated a plan to destroy the entire complex with a nuclear strike from orbit to absolutely ensure all of the Xenomorphs were killed. However, before the survivors could be picked up by Corporal Ferro aboard her dropship Bug Stomper, the ship's crew were attacked in flight and the dropship came down, narrowly avoiding Hicks and the other survivors and destroying the APC as it crashed and burned.
With no alternative, Hicks ordered Hudson and Vasquez to salvage what equipment they could from the wreckage before heading back inside the operations center at the main colony complex. After fortifying the area by sealing access points and deploying Sentry Guns at key locations, Hicks did his best to remain optimistic about their chances of holding out until a rescue team could arrive. However, Bishop soon discovered that the Atmosphere Processor had been badly damaged during the initial firefight, as Gorman had feared it would be. It was going to explode in several hours, and the dropship crash had destroyed the systems that could allow the survivors to shut it down.
In response to this desperate news, Hicks helped to formulate a plan whereby the second dropship aboard the Sulaco would be remotely piloted to the surface by Bishop using the colony's transmitter, thereby allowing the survivors to escape. As they waited for Bishop to complete the mission, Hicks instructed Ripley how to use the M41A Pulse Rifle for self-defense. The Xenomorphs also probed the Marines' defenses, but while they managed to overrun the first set of Sentry Guns, they were halted by the second, just yards from the door into the operations center.
Hicks later responded to a fire alarm in the med lab adjacent to operations, and discovered that Ripley and Newt had been locked inside and the two live Facehugger specimens released. Hicks dove through the window into the room and rescued Ripley from the Facehugger that was on the verge of subduing her, before learning from her that Burke had likely been responsible.
After further discovering that Burke had apparently intended to smuggle live Xenomorph specimens back to Earth by getting Ripley and Newt impregnated, Hicks made the decision to summarily execute him for his treachery. However, before he could carry out his threat Ripley stepped in, explaining that Burke needs to be brought back to Earth and face justice for his crimes. At that moment, the Xenomorphs cut the power to the building and launched a large assault.
Injury and escape
In the ensuing battle, Hudson was captured by the Xenomorphs, while Burke slipped away in the chaos and sealed the survivors in the operations room with the creatures — only to be attacked by another Xenomorph and either captured or killed. The remaining survivors made their escape through the colony's ventilation ducts, but Vasquez and Gorman were eventually cornered by the Xenomorphs and chose to commit suicide by detonating a hand grenade in order to escape being captured by the creatures. The blast from Gorman's and Vasquez' grenade traveled through the ventilation ducts and caused Newt to slip and fall down a separate shaft into the colony's sublevels. Hicks and Ripley used the locator bracelet that had been given to Newt to locate her, but before Hicks could cut through the flooring into the sewer where Newt had ended up, a Xenomorph captured the little girl, before another wave of the creatures forced Hicks and Ripley to flee.
As they attempted to escape the complex, a lone Xenomorph cornered Hicks and Ripley in an elevator, and while Hicks quickly dispatched the creature with his Pulse Rifle, its spilling blood severely burned his face and chest, quickly melting through his chest armor.
Ripley helped the wounded Marine to the dropship, which had just landed, where Bishop sedated and stabilized him. Somewhat delirious with morphine, he revealed his first name to Ripley as she prepared to rescue Newt from the Hive, prompting her to respond in kind. His final words to her were to ask her to hurry back. He subsequently passed out from the sedatives given to him by Bishop, and would remain unconscious until he was back aboard the Sulaco.
Before Ripley redressed his wounds and placed him in hypersleep for the return trip to Earth, Hicks recorded a distress call to the USCM, explaining Weyland-Yutani's activities and reporting that all the other Marines from the ship were K.I.A.; however, unbeknownst to him, the message was never sent, presumably blocked by Weyland-Yutani.
Apparent death and capture
As the sole ranking Marine aboard the Sulaco, Hicks was awoken from hypersleep by colonists Samwell Stone and Turk who were seeking military aid due to an emergency — the ship had been intercepted by the USS Legato and illegally boarded by Weyland-Yutani PMCs. A firefight with the PMCs erupted in the hypersleep chamber, during which a stray bullet grazed the Facehugger attached to Ripley, spilling its blood onto the floor and triggering an electrical fire aboard the ship, leading to the evacuation of the occupied hypersleep chambers aboard a Type 337 EEV. Before the EEV launched, Turk was knocked into Hicks' open cryotube and sealed inside, and was subsequently launched aboard the departing EEV.
Hicks could only watch as Ripley — and the Facehugger attached to her — was loaded into the EEV and launched from the Sulaco. Hicks and Stone then fought their way through the Sulaco, killing most of the PMCs and Xenomorphs aboard the ship, before taking a Service Skiff and following the EEV to the Fiorina 161 Class C Work Correctional Unit on Fiorina "Fury" 161. Unbeknownst to Hicks and Stone, however, the EEV malfunctioned and crash landed on Fiorina 161, killing Turk and Newt and damaging Bishop beyond repair. As the injuries to Turk's corpse rendered him unidentifiable, he was mistaken for Hicks. As such, Hicks' death was included in a report to Weyland-Yutani by the facility's supervisor Superintendent Andrews, and Hicks was listed as officially K.I.A.. He was "posthumously" awarded a Distinguished Service Medal for outstanding bravery for his actions on LV-426. Turk's body was later cremated with Newt on Fiorina 161.
After a 2-day trip, Hicks and Stone arrived just in time to see Ripley sacrifice herself to prevent Michael Bishop from obtaining the Queen Chestburster specimen within her. Hicks fell to his knees in despair, as he and Stone were captured by Bishop's Commandos.
Return to LV-426
Hicks and Stone were taken to the Resolute, a Weyland-Yutani FTL ship stationed at their Origin Facility, which was under construction around the derelict ship on LV-426. By now, it was clear to him that his distress call had never got through. Hicks and Stone were interrogated for information — including the code to the distress message, a locked copy of which Hicks still possessed. Stone was executed, when he failed to comply, although Hicks was freed by Weyland-Yutani researcher Rick Levy. In the midst of a Xenomorph outbreak at the base, Hicks and Levy fought their way to a communications uplink and began transmitting Hicks' distress call. However, the uplink was destroyed by Bishop before all of the message could be sent. Hicks was recaptured, but, crucially, the USCM had been alerted to the disastrous failure of Hicks' mission to Hadley's Hope and were on their way to investigate.
Joining the Sephora Marines
Seventeen weeks after the Hadley's Hope incident, Hicks was rescued from the Origin Facility by Colonial Marines from the USS Sephora. After informing the Sephora Marines of the means of his capture and his torture at the hands of Michael Bishop, Hicks joined with them and assisted in their defense of their rendezvous point in the ruins of Hadley's Hope. He subsequently took part in a desperate last-ditch attack on the heavily fortified Origin Facility, hoping to secure the FTL-capable starship there to allow the stranded Marines to escape from the planet.
Once aboard the vessel, Hicks, Corporal Winter, Private O'Neal, the Bishop android from the Sephora and Lieutenant Reid confronted Michael Bishop. After a tense stand-off, Hicks summarily executed him, much to the anger of the rest of the group, who had intended to press Bishop for information. Their anger subsided when it was discovered this particular Michael Bishop was merely an android double, left behind to delay them while the real Michael Bishop escaped. When asked how he knew this Bishop was an android, Hicks simply replied that he already knew Bishop operated Synthetic doubles of himself from his time in captivity, and had noticed this particular Bishop had not been breathing. While Hicks survived the rest of the incident, his ultimate fate after the events is unknown.
Personality and Traits
Hicks was a "lifer" in the Marine Corps. Unlike many of the other Marines in the squad, he was quiet and subdued, not really involving himself in their raucous bantering, and he remained very much in the background during the initial stages of the operation. Only later, when command passed to him, did he begin to show his true colors and leadership abilities. Above all, like Ripley, he managed to keep a level head and stay calm throughout the incident, even when the odds continued to pile up against the survivors and those around him began to crack. He was arguably by far the most mature of the Marines dispatched to LV-426.
Hicks took a romantic interest in Ripley from the start, although it seems Ripley was initially intimidated by this. He also respected Ripley's intelligence, courage and ability to stay calm and think straight during a dangerous situation. Later, the two grew close, while they were stranded in Hadley's Hope, and began to show genuine romantic feelings for each other by the time they made their escape from LV-426. However, Hicks' capture and Ripley's death on Fiorina "Fury" 161 would prevent their relationship developing any further. Hicks was also the only Marine to engage with Newt, despite the fact she was only a child, no doubt out of respect for the fact she had survived for so long by herself. Whereas the other Marines seemed to dismiss Newt as nothing more than a child who got lucky and a burden they were forced to look after, Hicks treated her with kindness and maturity, helping to make her feel like part of the team and even giving her odd jobs to do while the survivors were fortifying Hadley's Hope.
During the time between his capture and rescue, Hicks seemed to have turned more cynical and cold, likely due to his prolonged torture at the hands of Weyland-Yutani and his knowledge of Ripley's death. After being rescued, he told the Marines from the USS Sephora that he now only cared about one thing — taking down Weyland-Yutani for good, both for what they had done on LV-426, and as revenge for their perceived role in the death of Ellen Ripley.
Hicks was outfitted with standard issue M3 Pattern Personal Armor and an M10 Pattern Ballistic Helmet for protection; his armor was fitted with a TNR Shoulder Lamp attachment for illumination. He had customized his armor vest with a heart design painted on the chest plate, to which he had attached a small padlock. During the initial operation to Hadley's Hope, Hicks formed the covering element of Second Squad's gun team, and consequently carried the standard assault carbine of the Corps, the M41A Pulse Rifle, as well as an M314 Motion Tracker. Later, when rescued by Marines from the USS Sephora, Hicks armed himself with the upgraded M41A Pulse Rifle MK2 and a M4A3 Service Pistol which he kept in a holster on his right leg. The Corporal also carried an ME3 Hand Welder, which he would frequently use for fortifying barricades or cutting through obstacles.
Alongside his issued gear, Hicks also carried some personal equipment, including a Tracer Bracelet and locator that eventually ended up with Newt. He also notably carried an Ithaca Model 37 pump-action shotgun, an old family heirloom handed down to him from his father, as a backup weapon holstered in a scabbard on his back.
Behind the Scenes
Originally, Hicks was not played by Michael Biehn but by actor James Remar. However, Remar (who suffered from a drug addiction at the time Aliens was being filmed) was caught in possession of illegal substances and consequently fired from the production after just two weeks of shooting. The part of Hicks was hastily recast with Biehn, whom director James Cameron knew from his previous film The Terminator, in which Biehn had played the starring role of Kyle Reese. According to Biehn, he received a phone call on a Friday evening from producer Gale Anne Hurd asking simply if his passport was in order; the following Monday he was on set getting ready for filming. He has since pointed out that the manner in which he came to the role was perfect for him, as he had the chance to appear in the film without having to go through the two weeks of rigorous boot camp training the other Marine actors had to endure. He has also noted wryly that, had his passport not been up to date, he would have missed out on the role for which he is arguably most famous.
As a result of his late casting, Biehn did not get to personalize his combat armor like the other actors/actresses playing the Marines, as this customization had already been done by Remar. Biehn was dismissive of the padlocked heart motif that he ended up with, stating it was effectively a giant bullseye directly over his chest. Despite the recasting of the role, Remar in fact still appears as Hicks in the finished version of Aliens — specifically, in the wide shot where the Marines first encounter the Xenomorph Hive. However, as he is wearing his armor and only seen from behind, it is impossible to tell the difference.
Original comic book appearances
Following Aliens, the character of Hicks went on to appear in a series of comic books published from 1988-1990 by Dark Horse Comics that continued his story after the film, along with Newt. In these comics, Hicks and Newt travel to the Xenomorph home world in order to combat an infestation that has taken over the entire Earth, before again teaming up with Ripley to destroy the Aliens.
However, following the release of Alien3 in 1992, in which Hicks perished, the character's name in these stories was altered to David Wilks — this change first appeared in the novel Aliens: Earth Hive, an adaptation of the comic series Aliens: Outbreak released several months after Alien3. Similarly, Newt became Billie, while Ellen Ripley became a synthetic version of herself. Subsequent reprints of the early comics have also used these altered names, thereby keeping the stories congruous with the film franchise. Despite these changes, the characters' back stories were not altered (beyond the names of people and places), and so Hicks and Wilks both share remarkably similar experiences — both were the sole surviving Colonial Marine from a disastrous mission to an infested colony, both rescued a young girl from the planet, and both even share similar acid scarring to their faces.
- Hicks actor Michael Biehn also starred in several other films written and directed by Aliens director James Cameron in the 1980s and 90s, playing the part of Kyle Reese in The Terminator and the Special Edition of Terminator 2: Judgement Day, and that of Lieutenant Hiram Coffey in The Abyss. More recently, Biehn was in talks to play Colonel Miles Quaritch in Avatar (also written and directed by Cameron), but was ultimately dropped due to fears that the inclusion of Biehn, Sigourney Weaver and a military force greatly resembling the Colonial Marines in a Cameron film would invite too many comparisons with Aliens. Ironically, the actor who ultimately played Quaritch, Stephen Lang, had unsuccessfully auditioned for the role of Hicks in Aliens.
- Contrary to popular belief, Biehn did not have a problem with Hicks dying in Alien3, but he did strongly object to the way it was done at the very opening of the film. The actor has since proposed that his character should have appeared alongside Ripley in the movie so that their relationship could be further developed, before he was killed later in the film.
- Due to a goof, the name tag on Hicks' locker aboard the Sulaco in Aliens reads "Cpl.J.HICKS", not "Cpl.D.HICKS" as it should. Given that James Remar originally played the character, it seems likely that Hicks originally shared his first name with the actor playing him, as is the case with all the other Marines in the film. Presumably the name Dwayne was thought up later, but the prop was never changed.
- In Cameron's original treatment for Aliens, Hicks is only a Lance Corporal in rank (and therefore subordinate to Hudson, Vasquez and a Marine named Lydecker, who are all Corporals). The treatment also had Hicks die at the end of the story — he is impregnated inside the Hive and orders Ripley to leave him there. He then either shoots himself or dies in the explosion of the Atmosphere Processor; the screenplay does not make it clear which.
- A figure based on Hicks was released by Kenner Products as part of the company's Aliens toy line. The Corp. Hicks toy was shipped with the Aliens: Space Marines mini-comic Aliens: Showdown.
- NECA produced an action figure of Hicks in 2013, along with Hudson and a Warrior. There is also a two-pack that comes with Hicks and a battle damaged Warrior.
- The pump-action shotgun that the player uses in the video games Doom and Doom 2 was allegedly based on the shotgun that Hicks carries.
- In William Gibson's unproduced script for Alien3, Hicks and Bishop became the series' main characters in lieu of Ripley, and they, along with another group of Colonial Marines, are involved in a Xenomorph outbreak on a massive space station, where the Aliens are being bred and studied for use as a bio-weapon. The screenplay ended with a cliffhanger setting up a fourth movie that would take place on Earth. The script was eventually rejected, although it is widely available to read online.
- In the original shooting script for Alien3, Ripley was to be shown Hicks' dead body, with a Chestburster erupting out of it as part of a dream/hallucination. However, Michael Biehn refused to give the filmmakers' permission to use his likeness, and even threatened to sue if they did, and so the idea was dropped.
- In addition to his appearance in the single-player story, Hicks is also a multiplayer skin in Aliens: Colonial Marines. Hicks' Shotgun appears in the game as a "Legendary Weapon".
- One of the messages at the bottom of the main menu in Aliens: Colonial Marines is "Welcome to Aliens: Colonial Marines! - Stay frosty, Marine! Remember: short, controlled bursts". This is an obvious reference to Hicks' dialogue in Aliens.
- Alien3/novel/comic (mentioned only)
- Aliens: Colonial Marines/Stasis Interrupted
- Aliens: Field Report
- Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report
- Alien: River of Pain
- Dark Mother (indirect mention)
- Deep Black (mentioned only)
- Aliens (video game)
- Aliens Adventure Game (mentioned only)
- Aliens: Newt's Tale
- Aliens: Space Marines
- Aliens: Nightmare Asylum (novel) (indirect mention)
Behind the scenes
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 S. D. Perry. Alien: The Weyland-Yutani Report, p. 95 (2014), Insight Editions.
- ↑ http://web.archive.org/web/20080430191601/http://www.alien-movies.com/html/aliens/characters/2cha_hicks.html
- ↑ Hicks' actor's (Michael Biehn) height is 5ft 11 ¾ (182.2 cm), so that is also how tall Hicks would have been.
- ↑ 4.0 4.1 James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens (1986), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Aliens: Colonial Marines (2013), Gearbox Software, SEGA [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360].
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 Gale Anne Hurd, Sigourney Weaver, Michael Biehn, Bill Paxton, Stan Winston, John Richardson. Superior Firepower: Making Aliens (2003), 20th Century Fox [DVD].
- ↑ Aliens: Infestation (2011), Gearbox Software, WayForward Technologies, SEGA [Nintendo DS].
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens Special Edition (1991), 20th Century Fox [LaserDisc].
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Stasis Interrupted (2013), Gearbox Software, SEGA [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360].
- ↑ Lee Goldberg, Patrick Daniel O'Neill, John Sayers. Aliens: The Official Movie Magazine, p. 36 (1986), Starlog Press.
- ↑ Alan Dean Foster. Aliens, p. 149 (1986), Warner Books.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 "Strange Shapes - The Other Hicks: James Remar". Retrieved on 2013-05-13.
- ↑ "EMPIRE - Aliens: The Colonial Marines". Retrieved on 2013-11-28.
- ↑ Michael Biehn. Hicks' Alternate Future (2010), 20th Century Fox [Blu-ray].
- ↑ Alien II original treatment by James Cameron