Mark Verheiden was a mercenary and a member of Max Stafford's private military team. In 2004, Stafford's team was hired by Charles Bishop Weyland to accompany a Weyland Industries expedition to Bouvetøya, Antarctica. The expedition's objective was to investigate an ancient Pyramid buried beneath the ice there, with Stafford's team present to provide security. The Pyramid was discovered to be a Yautja temple and hunting ground where the Predators would breed Xenomorphs for use in their Hunts, and the expedition soon became caught up in the battle between the two species.
After the team was split up in an ambush by the Predators, Verheiden was captured by the Xenomorphs and cocooned, dying when the Chestburster inside him emerged. His body was later found by Lex Woods.
Journey to Antarctica
When the expedition team first met aboard the Piper Maru, Verheiden made no secret of his contempt for the civilians present, even when confronted over his aggressive behavior by Lex. His contentious attitude continued when the group reached Razorback Point and began exploring the pyramid below — Verheiden, along with his boss Stafford, removed the Yautja Plasmacasters from the sarcophagus against the advice of the science team, thereby triggering the periodic shifting of the structure.
Separated and captured
When the team was ambushed by Scar, Celtic and Chopper, Verheiden froze in shock — failing to help Connors when he fell into a lower section of the structure nearby. Ironically, Verheiden's indecision meant he shared a similar fate, and he was separated from the others by the shifting walls, becoming trapped in a small antechamber with Dr. Miller. When Verheiden became despondent about their situation, Miller unexpectedly roused him and when an exit opened up the two men pressed on. In the maze of cramped tunnels they now found themselves crawling through, Verheiden found Connors' G36C, abandoned and covered in slime, before a trap door opened beneath him and dropped him to a lower level, separating him from Miller. He was quickly ambushed by three Xenomorphs and captured.
After being cocooned in the Hive created by the Xenomorphs in the sacrificial chamber, Verheiden was impregnated by a Facehugger, remaining conscious throughout the ordeal. He died when the resultant Chestburster emerged from his body; Lex later found his corpse when she entered the Hive with Scar.
Personality and Traits
An aggressive and narcissistic man, Verheiden had little time for the advisors and experts hired for the expedition; in particular, he took an immediate dislike to Miller when he caught him fooling around with the equipment abaord the Piper Maru. The only person he seemed to hold any respect for, outside of his superiors Weyland and Stafford, was Lex Woods, likely due to her extensive experience in Arctic exploration.
When the expedition team was ambushed by the Predators inside the pyramid, Verheiden froze and began losing his composure. When trapped alone with Miller, his fear led to panic, and he began to crack under the pressure of the situation he found himself in, until Miller managed to calm him down, in the process winning a degree of Verheiden's respect.
Like the majority of Stafford's mercenaries, Verheiden wielded a Heckler & Koch G36C carbine fitted with a flashlight and lime green laser sight during the expedition to Bouvet Island, as well as an IMI Desert Eagle Mark Vll that he kept in an under-arm holster.
- Verheiden's name is an homage to writer Mark Verheiden, who wrote many of Dark Horse Comics' early Aliens and Predator comic books. The real Mark Verheiden later commented on his blog that he was flattered by the reference, though amusedly noted that the character dies in the film.
- Verheiden is the only character in the film franchise seen to remain conscious while being impregnated by Facehugger; all other victims have been rendered unconscious during this process. Some have theorized that this occurs because he was cocooned at the time and therefore unable to resist. While unique in the film series, several novels have had characters likewise remain conscious during Chestburster implantation, including several individuals in Alien: Sea of Sorrows.