Scientists have had a hard time addressing the Fermi Paradox since theoretical physicist Enrico Fermi asked the question, “Where are they?” at a dinner in 1950. This question seeks to know why humans haven't met aliens, given the billions of galaxies in the universe and billions of stars in each galaxy. With the sheer number of available earthlike planets, our local galaxy should teem with alien life. Some of them could land their spacecraft in Times Square to chat with the President. But where are they?
In science fiction, directors and scriptwriters care less about the scientific debates and have had a lot of fun bringing these creatures to screens. The might and majesty of these strange aliens have inspired countless films. This article explores the most powerful alien races in cinema history.
1. Time Lords: Doctor Who
The Time Lords or Watchmakers from Doctor Who once inhabited the planet Gallifrey. They invented time travel and possessed the ability to live outside history, seeing the past, the present, and the future all at once. They could influence any part of the timeline as they wished but resorted to standing aside and observing without interference. Despite this impulse to stand aside, they often inserted themselves into history, like during the War of the Great Vampires.
Known to be near-immortal due to their regenerative abilities, they still managed to get themselves greatly destroyed in a bitter war against an enemy race known as the Daleks.
2. The Q: Star Trek
Though known as obnoxious and condescending, the character Q from Star Trek belonged to a race of extra-dimensional beings. They also possessed omnipotent, omniscient, and reality-altering abilities. Q history remains shadowy, though Starfleet knows they belonged to a different dimension known as the Q Continuum and were mostly represented by John De Lancie's character, also named Q.
Estimating the powers of the Q poses a challenge. But from the little shown in episodes where Q appeared, they rank alongside the most powerful aliens in cinema.
3. The Grace: Doctor Who
If the Time Lords, immortal beings who live outside time itself, are to be feared, then the superior-powered Grace inspire awe. The Grace are a pan-dimensional, omniversal species with enormous power. They created the Key to Time, an instrument for holding the equilibrium of time itself, and used the Guardians of Time as their agents. They held the universe together and occasionally stepped into reality to prevent it from falling apart. The Fifth Doctor himself saw them as “big and peaceful creatures.”
4. The Borg: Star Trek
The cybernetic species the Borg link together in a hive mind with advanced technology. They are essentially made up of different species whom they have captured and merged into “The Collective.” These linked species become foot soldiers in the grand link of the Borg. Each species assimilated into the Collective loses its individuality and works only for the Collective, their fears and inhibitions stripped from them. With these individual members becoming one and acting in unison, the Borg becomes an unstoppable force.
5. Xenomorphs: Aliens
Xenomorphs may represent one of the most deadliest and hostile alien species in cinema. The violence they've meted out on humans and their unfortunate prey in successive films speaks to their brutality. Their tremendous resilience and the corrosive fluid in their blood make them quite difficult to kill.
A scene in Alien: Resurrection exemplifies their brutality. When trapped in a cell, rather than force their way out, they murder the weakest among them so that the acid from its blood would eat into the ground.
6. The Strangers: Dark City
The Strangers are a hive-mind species with powerful technology and godlike abilities. They can also read minds and perform something called “Tuning.” This is their way of correcting reality and shaping it into something better. They use this ability to build their world and create technology so advanced it is incomprehensible to the human mind. Working as a unit, their powers make them almost impossible to defeat.
However, their species ails, and they've come to Earth seeking a cure for their illness before they die off. They have all the powers in the world and can correct reality, but ironically, they cannot change their own fate.
7. Ego: Guardians of the Galaxy
Ego, or The Living Planet, has gargantuan powers. He belongs to a primordial race known as the Celestials, wise and powerful beyond measure. Bored with existence, Ego began the Expansion. This spreads seeds of himself throughout the universe and terraforms planets along the way. He wanted to dominate the universe, and the only way that could happen was if he turned every other living thing into a copy of himself.
Though defeated by Peter Quill and Mantis, who happened to be his children, Ego remains one of the most powerful alien forces in the universe.
8. Yoda: Star Wars
Speaking of forces, Master Yoda from Star Wars has some of the strongest Force powers in the universe. Though tiny and old, Yoda can communicate over vast distances of space with his mind alone. He has formidable skill in physical combat and also has an affinity to the Force such that he can affect the world around him telekinetically.
9. Cybertronians: Transformers
Transformers posess intelligence at a level far above that of humans, and they have a lifespan that extends into millions of years. They also can transform into any type of land-going or air vehicle and gain their full abilities. Except for the fact that they depend on fuel, these living mechanisms can outlast most creatures made from carbon.
10. The Covenant: Halo
The Covenant is a technologically advanced race that has mastered the science of faster-than-light travel (FTL). For thousands of years, the Covenant Hegemony controlled a large part of the Orion Arm, a constellation in the Milky Way galaxy. Boasting one of the most fearsome military forces in the known galaxy, they waged a genocidal war on humanity for years. But the Covenant remains a deeply religious species, often leading to internal conflict within their ranks. One such struggle saw their empire broken apart and the war against humans lost.
11. Daleks: Dr Who
The species who went toe-to-toe with the Time Lords and lived to tell of it. They are highly xenophobic, unified, and committed to the cause of exterminating any visitors. They also cocoon themselves in an impenetrable armor (as though they weren't safe from visitors enough) and possess time-traveling technology.
12. Unicron: Transformers
Unicron is the baddest boss from the Transformers universe. This titan being, rather than transforming into a sports car or helicopter, shapeshifts into an all-encompassing robot planet. This being represents nothing but pure chaos and sets out to not only do battle with his opposite, Primus, but also to destroy all of creation.
13. Thanos: Avengers Infinity War
Speaking of Titans, meet the most powerful one the Marvel universe has ever seen.
This Mad Titan embarked on a mission to acquire the five Infinity Stones that held the universe in place. In his quest, he encountered various adversaries aiming to stop him from gaining all five stones. Each one he put to the sword. Some he swatted like flies, displaying his prowess even without the backing of the stones. After achieving all gems, he gained the power to travel instantaneously, reverse time, and alter the fabric of reality. Upon attaining his new status, he proceeded to wipe out half the living things in the universe with just a snap of his fingers, committing the biggest genocide ever.
14. Klingons: Star Trek
The warrior race originating from the planet Qo'noS ranks as one of the most prominent alien species introduced by Star Trek. Their military remains a force to be reckoned with in the Galaxy, known for their aggressiveness and respect for honor and combat. Rather than fight with spears or guns, they often meet their combatant with bat'leths, a type of retractable sword.
15. The Na'vi: Avatar
Though their planet faces invasion, the Na'vi prove their resilience with majesty and intelligence. They live in harmony and oneness with nature and their tenuous connections with the Tree of Souls. Despite enduring attack by a being of whose nature and weapons of warfare they've never beheld, they organize themselves to fight, albeit with the aid of Jake Sully. One can only look at the Na'vi and wonder, what if they were half as curious and colonial as humans? What kind of movie would that make?