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Weyland-Yutani

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"BUILDING BETTER WORLDS."
―Company slogan
Weyland-Yutani Corp. Logo
The Weyland-Yutani Corporation logo.
Leigh BurneAdded by Leigh Burne

The Weyland-Yutani Corporation, often referred to as Wey-Yu or simply "The Company",[1][2] is a large British/Japanese[3] multinational conglomerate in the Alien franchise, where it plays a pivotal role. It is one of the corporations that operates human colonies outside the solar system through the Extrasolar Colonization Administration,[1] has a seat in the Interstellar Commerce Commission's Company Review Board, and also has a large presence on Earth. They hold their main offices in Tokyo, London, San Francisco, the Sea of Tranquillity and on Thedus.[4]

Weyland-Yutani is consistently portrayed as exhibiting the worst aspects of corporate profiteering, willing to sacrifice decency and life in the endless pursuit of profits.[2][5] As such, it is a modern example of the longstanding trope of the evil mega-corporation in science fiction. In various portrayals of the Aliens universe, the corporation has its hands in all aspects of space colonization and research. The corporation has consistently ordered its employees and agents to attempt to obtain living Xenomorphs to be exploited as biological weapons, without regard for the lives of any people involved in said attempts.[1] According to Weyland-Yutani employee Karl Bishop Weyland, one of the corporation's primary goals behind capturing the Xenomorphs and creating weapons out of their biology was to ensure humanity remains the elite species in the universe, and not just because of profits.[5]

History

Origins

The Weyland-Yutani Corporation has had several different origins in various media. While it was not the first to be portrayed, the origin established in Prometheus is now considered the canonical version. In the film, the company is preceded by Weyland Corp, established by Peter Weyland on October 11, 2012. Sometime after Project Prometheus, Weyland Corp would acquire the Yutani Corporation, thus forming the Weyland-Yutani Corporation.

Other origin stories for the company have been given in other media, although these have now been rendered largely defunct by the production of Prometheus. Nonetheless, prominent references to Weyland-Yutani include:

Growth and activities

From the start, even the lowliest of Weyland-Yutani's employees were aware of the corrupt nature of the conglomerate. It was common knowledge amongst the company's commercial haulage fleet that senior management routinely bribed and paid off inspectors rather than submit to thorough safety inspections and reviews of their vessels.[6]

Some time prior to 2122, the Weyland-Yutani Corporation detected the signal being broadcast from the Derelict on Acheron (LV-426), the middle moon of 3 orbiting the ringed planet Calpamos. While the language was unknown, the company succeeded in deciphering enough of the message to learn it was a warning regarding the deadly Xenomorph species.[7] They subsequently dispatched the USCSS Nostromo to investigate, without the crew's knowledge, leading to initial human contact with the Xenomorph, the death of all but one of the ship's crew and the loss of the Nostromo itself.[8] While the incident and the existence of the Xenomorph was apparently covered up by those involved, in a twist of irony the company later coincidentally established the Hadley's Hope terraforming colony on LV-426.[1]

By 2179, Weyland-Yutani was heavily involved in the colonization of extrasolar planets, including the terraforming of suitable bodies with inhospitable atmospheres through the construction of Atmosphere Processors.[1] The corporation constructed and administrated numerous colonies across the galaxy, including Hadley's Hope on LV-426 and Freya's Prospect on BG-386.[5] Weyland-Yutani was also involved in non-civilian colonies, notably overseeing the Class C Work Correctional Unit and the associated industrial penal lead foundry on Fiorina 161.[2]

The company also operated numerous research and development facilities throughout the galaxy, often pursuing top-secret research into illegal or dangerous fields, focussing in particular on the study of the Xenomorph species. Major Weyland-Yutani laboratories included installations on LV-1201[9] and BG-386,[5] and the Origin Facility on LV-426.[10] These labs often operated under particularly amoral conditions, especially where Xenomorph research was concerned; live humans were frequently used as unwilling hosts for the creatures, while some teams were even known to deliberately sacrifice low-level Weyland-Yutani employees as live prey in Xenomorph tests.[5] On BG-386, inhabitants from the civilian colony were apparently abducted for use in research, often under the pretence of being "promoted" to a new position elsewhere on the planet.[5]

Despite tight security, typically enforced by Weyland-Yutani manufactured Combat Androids, these research facilities were notorious for their containment failures and outbreaks, events that usually led to huge loss of life amongst staff (and any civilians unlucky enough to be caught in harm's way) and the involvement of the United States Colonial Marine Corps.

Collapse

By the year 2379, Weyland-Yutani is said to have been bought out by Walmart decades previously.[11] Consequently an interstellar military force called the United Systems Military now controls many of the weapons and R&D interests previously held by Weyland-Yutani. Some have theorised that the character who imparts this information, Dr. Mason Wren, was in fact lying about the "Walmart buyout" in order to mask Weyland-Yutani's involvement in his Xenomorph cloning project, and believe that the USM is in reality just another branch of Weyland-Yutani at the time.

Divisions

Bio-Weapons Division

Weyland-Yutani's Bio-Weapons Division was a special department that dealt with the research and development of biological and viral weapons. One of their primary goals was to obtain a viable Xenomorph specimen, whether it be in the form of a Facehugger, a Chestburster or a mature adult; in some cases a Chestburster sample was considered preferable due to the ease with which one could be passed through quarantine undetected within their hosts.[1] Weyland-Yutani believed that biological self replicating weapons such as the Xenomorph could form a ubiquitous component of distant force projection operations vulnerable to unforeseen threats capable of exhausting traditional security personnel and ammunition stores that may not be easily replenished across the vast distances of space.

WY Bioweapons Division
Weyland-Yutani Bio-Weapons Division personnel during a Xenomorph retrieval mission.
Kronnang DunnAdded by Kronnang Dunn

The company's attempts to obtain Xenomorphs frequently involved subterfuge and the sacrifice of human life. Ellen Ripley inevitably became a major enemy of Weyland-Yutani's Bio-Weapons Division after surviving the company's first attempt to capture a live Alien aboard the USCSS Nostromo. Ripley would subsequently uncover (and defeat) numerous other attempts made by the company in this regard. Following Weyland-Yutani's collapse, much of the Bio-Weapons Division's work was appropriated and continued by the United Systems Military. The USM's own research would later fall foul of Ripley 8, a clone of the original Ellen Ripley.

Reverse-Engineering Division

The reverse-engineering division was mainly focussed on the study and implementation of recovered Yautja technology. The department was largely built upon the work carried out by Borgia Industries[12] and the Yutani Corporation,[13] both of which were incorporated into Weyland-Yutani through business mergers (with the Yutani Corporation being a major partner and partial originator of the company's name).

As with the company's bio-weapons division, Weyland-Yutani's reverse engineering projects were generally run with little regard for morals, although owing to the research being based primarily on the study of appropriated technology, the scope for appalling breaches of human rights was less open. Even so, the division ruthlessly captured and exploited alien tech, stealing Predator and Engineer technology with little thought as to how the species that created it may react. As a result, the company often ran afoul of the Predators, who were fiercely protective of their advanced technology and considered the slaughter of any who would attempt to steal it a cultural necessity.[5]

Weapons manufacture

Apart from the company's bio-weapons projects, Weyland-Yutani was also heavily involved in the manufacture of conventional weaponry, and was a major supplier for the United States Colonial Marine Corps.[5] Weyland-Yutani products include the M56 Smartgun, the VP 78 Pistol, the MK221 Tactical Shotgun and the NSG 23 Assault Rifle.

Weyland-Yutani manufactured weapons list

Other divisions

Weyland-Yutani held numerous other divisions of interest, most notably a large stake in interplanetary cargo transport.[8] It also operated departments focussed on media and manufacturing, and worked in close conjunction with the Extrasolar Colonization Administration. Weyland-Yutani's terraforming efforts were frequently portrayed as being benevolent in nature, but almost always carried a hidden agenda, or at least a substantial profit margin for the company.

Relationship to the USCM

It has frequently been suggested that Weyland-Yutani shared close ties with the United States Colonial Marine Corps and even had a hand in the means and ways of its continued operation. Weyland-Yutani employee Karl Bishop Weyland alluded that the corporation may have played a massive part in the actual formation of the USCM, stating that he and the Corps were "old friends" and that it was effectively just another "corporate asset".[5] Regardless of the truth in these statements, Weyland-Yutani did manufacture many of the Corps' weapons and vehicles, particularly their large spacecraft, including the Conestoga-class vessels. USCM equipment, including vehicles and firearms, were often used by Weyland-Yutani themselves.[2]

Weyland-Yutani frequently oversaw the deployment of USCM forces in operations where it held a significant stake, including the initial mission to investigate Hadley's Hope. While Weyland-Yutani may not have had actual ownership of the Corps itself, the company at least held stock and/or partially financed the Corps, essentially allowing them to make the Corps available for their own personal use.

Behind the scenes

The company's original name was Weylan-Yutani, briefly seen on a monitor in the film Alien; this name was created by Ron Cobb, one of the designers of the Nostromo and its crew's uniforms. The "d" was later added to the first part of the name by James Cameron in Aliens.

One of the things I enjoyed most about Alien was its subtle satirical content. Science fiction films offer golden opportunities to throw in little scraps of information that suggest enormous changes in the world. There's a certain potency in those kinds of remarks. Weylan Yutani for instance is almost a joke, but not quite. I wanted to imply that poor old England is back on its feet and has united with the Japanese, who have taken over the building of spaceships the same way they have now with cars and supertankers. In coming up with a strange company name I thought of British Leyland and Toyota, but we couldn't use "Leyland-Toyota" in the film. Changing one letter gave me "Weylan," and "Yutani" was a Japanese neighbor of mine.

—Ron Cobb, "The Authorized Portfolio of Crew Insignias from The United States Commercial Spaceship Nostromo Designs and Realizations" by John Mollo and Ron Cobb

When James Cameron was assigned to write and direct an Alien sequel, the role and significance of Weyland-Yutani increased greatly, becoming an indispensable element in Alien lore. The original Weylan-Yutani logo, an Egyptian winged-sun emblem, was modified to its current corporo-industrial interlocked W/Y for the film. This logo can be viewed in various places throughout the movie, most prominently on crates and the front of a child's tricycle at the Hadley's Hope colony before the Xenomorph outbreak there.[14] Cameron has also said that the way in which Burke accompanies the Colonial Marines on their mission to LV-426 was supposed to invoke the conspiracy of America's involvement in Vietnam being for purely corporate interests.

In Alien3, Weyland-Yutani's logo appears on the furnaces at the Fiorina 161 Class C Work Correctional Unit, and can also be seen stencilled across the shirts, prison jackets and caps worn by various characters in the film, including Ellen Ripley. It is also seen on screen several times written in Japanese; it appears on a box of supplies as ウェイランド湯谷. The first six Kana of this are part of the Japanese syllabary Katakana which is used to spell foreign words, and here they spell weirando (Weyland). The second part is the Japanese name Yutani written with two kanji, which literally means "hot-water valley" in English. The corporation's name also appears in a newspaper headline where the last four kanji (株式会社) read Kabushiki gaisha which means "joint stock corporation".

Trivia

  • Despite the fact that the company is portrayed as almost entirely ruthless, they appear to let Robert Morse live, even though he is a witness to the events on Fiorina 161 and what the company attempted to do there. Since Morse is a convict, it is possible the company simply rationalised people would be unlikely to believe anything he could say to damage them.
  • Supplemental materials on the Prometheus Blu-ray suggest the Tyrell Corporation from Ridley Scott's film Blade Runner is one of Weyland-Yutani's competitors.[15] Fans have often theorized that Blade Runner may be set in the same universe as Alien owing to the two films' similar style and design, but this oblique reference remains the only suggestion of such a link in official media (furthermore, the information on the Blu-ray seems to be more of an Easter Egg than hard fact).
  • The corporate/military collaboration in pursuit and protection of commerce isn't unprecedented, dating back to the 16th cenutry Dutch Empire's West Indies Trading Companies explicit charter to colonize territories using the Dutch Navy. James Cameron referenced this historical model in the Aliens directors commentary as the basis of the Weyland-Yutani/USCM relationship.
  • In 2013, multinational professional services firm Ernst & Young rebranded their corporate slogan to "Building a better working world"; the similarity to Weyland-Yutani's slogan is likely just a coincidence.
  • Weyland-Yutani has been referenced in several other films and television series since Aliens:
    • In the episode "Harm's Way" of TV series Angel, Weyland-Yutani is revealed to be a client of evil interdimensional law firm Wolfram & Hart. As co-creator Joss Whedon had written the original draft to Alien Resurrection, this was most likely an in-joke aimed at Whedon himself.
    • In another Whedon television series, the short-lived space western Firefly, the pilot episode sees main character Mal Reynolds using a turret gun in a flashback sequence. At the top of the targeting system, a Weyland-Yutani logo can be seen.
    • While Weyland-Yutani does not feature, a similar conglomerate appears in James Cameron's later film Avatar, often referred to by the same moniker of "The Company".
    • Weyland-Yutani was also referenced in ABC's television show V, during a presentation of alien technology to various companies on Earth.

Appearances

Gallery

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Vincent Ward (writer) and David Fincher (director). Alien3 [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  3. "Strange Shapes - Space, 2122 – 2179". Retrieved on 2013-05-10.
  4. Alien Anthology Blu-ray
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 5.4 5.5 5.6 5.7 5.8  Aliens vs. Predator [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Rebellion.
  6. Alan Dean Foster (1979). Alien novelization. Warner Books, Inc., 159. 
  7. Alan Dean Foster (1979). Alien novelization. Warner Books, Inc., 201. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett (writers) and Ridley Scott (director). Alien [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  9.  Aliens versus Predator 2 [Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X]. Monolith Productions.
  10.  Aliens: Colonial Marines [Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360]. Gearbox Software.
  11. Joss Whedon (writer) and Jean-Pierre Jeunet (director). Alien Resurrection [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  12.  Predator: Concrete Jungle [PlayStation 2, Xbox]. Vivendi Universal Games.
  13. Dan O'Bannon, Ronald Shusett, Jim Thomas, John Thomas (writers) and The Brothers Strause (directors). Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  14. James Cameron (writer and director). Aliens Special Edition [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.

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