The Royal Facehugger, also known as the Super Facehugger or Queen Facehugger, is a special variant of Facehugger that carries the embryo of a Queen. While there is some debate as to how Queen Xenomorphs are created, one possible route involves a Royal Facehugger impregnating a host with a Queen Chestburster. Notably, Royal Facehuggers are capable of implanting more than one embryo into multiple hosts before they die.
Royal Facehuggers, like all other Facehuggers, come from Eggs laid by Queens, although they are somewhat larger and possess armor and a bladed tail to help them protect the unborn Queen they carry inside. They also have webbed digits and a dark brown coloration. Most notably, a Royal Facehugger is capable of impregnating at least two separate victims with Chestbursters (one with an infant Queen, the other with a typical Xenomorph) and the Facehugger does not die until both of these embryos have been implanted. Exactly how long a Royal Facehugger can survive after impregnating its first host is not known; however, the specimen on Fiorina "Fury" 161 survived for some time between impregnating Ellen Ripley aboard the USS Sulaco and attacking Babe the ox on the planet's surface.
The Royal Facehugger has only appeared once on-screen, and very briefly, in the Assembly Cut of Alien3. The egg hidden aboard the USS Sulaco contained a Royal Facehugger, which infiltrated the ship and impregnated Ripley with a Queen while she was in hypersleep. Later on Fiorina 161, the Royal Facehugger impregnated an ox with a second Xenomorph which would later develop into a Runner. After impregnating the ox, the Facehugger died. The Facehugger is only seen for a few seconds on-screen when one of the prisoners, Murphy finds the dead creature alongside the ox's corpse when the latter is taken to the prison slaughterhouse.
In the special features included on the Alien3 DVD and Blu-ray, Alec Gillis and Tom Woodruff, Jr. discuss this "Super Facehugger" and point out that they had taken design inspiration for the creature from the Alien Queen. They also consider it to be the creature that implanted the Queen embryo inside Ripley.
The theatrical cut of the film completely removed the Royal Facehugger scene, leaving it unclear how two Xenomorphs came to be on the planet when only one Egg is seen in the film, as traditionally Facehuggers have been seen to die as soon as their job of implanting a Xenomorph embryo in a host is complete.
The Queen Facehugger's appearance in the comics is very different to the one in Alien3, likely because the Assembly Cut of the film featuring the creature had yet to be released. Royal Facehuggers in the comic have the same color as normal Facehuggers but possess spikes on their backs and have spots on their air bladders. They have appeared in several comic books including Aliens vs Predator: The Deadliest of the Species, but all share the same appearance.
- Being a "Super" Facehugger, it is presumably stronger and more resilient than regular Facehuggers, and is likely more intelligent (evidenced by its ability to stay concealed for some time between impregnating hosts in Alien3).
- Royal Facehugger's are able to impregnate at least two hosts, presumably to provide the fledgling Queen with an immediate "bodyguard" in the form of a normal Xenomorph Drone.
- The legitimacy of the Royal Facehugger is questioned by some, as for many years its only appearance on film was cut from the final release of Alien3. However, with the release of the Assembly Cut of the film, it has become more accepted, although its canonicity is still in doubt.
- Notably, the Royal Facehugger does not appear in Stasis Interrupted, which recreates the beginning of Alien3, including Ripley being impregnated aboard the Sulaco (by a regular Facehugger).
- In the AvP games, a Drone/Warrior is shown to be capable of molting into a Queen if there is no Queen currently alive (examples include Specimen 6). This change has alternately been shown as direct or involving an intermediate Praetorian stage. This method of Queen creation bypasses the need for a Royal Facehugger and Queen embryo altogether. The Predalien in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is also shown molting, however it remains unclear if it was a Drone/Warrior before molting or if it was a Queen from "birth", like the Chestburster inside Ripley in Alien3.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 David Giler, Walter Hill, H. R. Giger. Wreckage and Rage: The Making of 'Alien3' [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Vincent Ward (writer) and David Fincher (director). Alien3 Assembly Cut [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- ↑ Aliens vs. Predator [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Rebellion.