Roberto Orci On The Aliens Of ‘Cowboys & Aliens’ And Its Comic Book Source Material

Summer Movie Preview Week continues here on MTV Splash Page with yet another peek behind the curtains at one of this year’s big comic-to-movie adaptations. This time around, the spotlight is on “Cowboys & Aliens,” Jon Favreau’s upcoming blockbuster based on the Platinum Studious comic book of the same name.

MTV News spoke to “Cowboys & Aliens” co-writer Roberto Orci, who not only filled us in on the the film’s faithfulness to its source material, but also dropped a few hints about the as-yet-unseen aliens terrorizing the Old West.

MTV NEWS: Even though the “Cowboys & Aliens” comic isn’t very well known, there’s always the question of how closely you felt it was necessary to follow the source material when adapting the story. How much did the comic inform the film’s script?

ROBERTO ORCI: The comic has the themes of enemies uniting to fight a common enemy and has the setting of that specific time period, so we kept the inspiration from all of that. In terms of the specifics of the story and who these characters are, we wanted the audience to be surprised and to not feel like they’ve already seen everything if they were fans of the comic. So, while the themes and the setting and many of the elements are a great inspiration, the story is completely adapted and translated for live action.

MTV: We’ve seen a lot of the cowboys, but we haven’t seen much of the aliens so far. What can you tell us about them?

ORCI: Well, they’re not super-nice. [Laughs] Actually, we’re still debating how much we want to show. On one hand we’re very proud of them, but on the other hand, we want people to be surprised. We wanted it to feel like it was alien, but not like it didn’t fit at all in the old West — even though they shouldn’t fit, it’s an alien after all.

The classic flying saucer just felt a little off, so we took a lot of inspiration from things you’d find in the old West — subliminal stuff that goes into the alien design. For example, in our early, early alien designs, the silhouette from a certain angle looked kind of like a gunslinger. So there are little things like that you might not even recognize consciously when you see it, and they’re all part of the DNA of the story.

MTV: From a writing perspective, how did you approach the task of blending the Western and science-fiction genres?

ORCI: One of the first things that occurred to us was when we started thinking about how these things would go together were the archetypes for each genre. What’s one of the classic western archetypes? A man comes into town with no name. And what’s one of the main alien archetypes? Abduction and missing memories. So we said, “What if a man comes into town with no name because he doesn’t remember his own name… because he was abducted by aliens?”

So the genres started fusing together. We started to realize there was an overlap. Aliens are known for cattle mutilation, so what if one of the characters was a cattle rancher? Suddenly you’re finding that they actually go together in an organic way when you find the right elements.

For more from our “Cowboys & Aliens” interview with Roberto Orci, head over to MTV Movies, and keep it locked to MTV Splash Page all week for more exclusive interviews, news, video, and images from this summer’s biggest movies!

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