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The obvious out-of-universe relationship between the films Avatar and Aliens is that they share a director, James Cameron. This of course doesn't mean the story-lines cohabit but there are other similarities:

  • The general behavior in both stories of corporate space-faring entities looking to exploit resources at the cost of lives; institutionalized rationalization of their questionable ethics; a strategic reliance on having professional military organizations on deck & capable of action

  • Generally similar levels of human technology (long-distance space travel, hibernation, vehicles, weapons, etc.)

  • The 'Mech'-style robot exoskeletons; used for labor (and, only incidentally, defense) in Aliens, used for warfare in Avatar

On the other hand, its hardly surprising if the same director explores similar themes in different movies, or applies similar preferences multiple times, e.g., casting Sigourney Weaver in both as different characters.

So all of this is circumstantial. Is there any hard evidence one way or the other for these two film series to be in the same fictional universe?

  • 2
    Also, Sigourney Weaver. – Jenayah Jan 27 at 11:19
  • @Jenayah Hmm I had left that out because she's not the same character. But its almost a counter-example. But I think I can add this to the question. Thanks – DaveInCaz Jan 27 at 11:21
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    That was a joke, actually :P but you know... technology... clones... who knows? – Jenayah Jan 27 at 11:22
  • @close-voters: given the amount of info there is about the extended Alien universe, and Avatar being quite documented too, and James Cameron loving to talk about his works in interviews, Reddits etc, that certainly doesn't fall into POB. – Jenayah Jan 27 at 11:38
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There is significant evidence that the two universes are not the same.

Timelines.

It's important to establish that the bulk of Avatar takes place approximately 30 years after Alien and that the Alien Universe covers this entire time period.

Avatar opens in 2148 and takes place largely in 2154. By comparison, Alien opens in 2122 and finishes with Ripley fighting the Xenomorphs in Aliens in 2179.

FTL Travel

Despite its later setting, FTL travel doesn't exist in the Avatar universe. By comparison, faster-than-light travel in the Aliens universe has been commonplace for decades.

Talk of “wormholes” and “warp drives” captured the imagination of twentieth-century sci-fi fans, but no such methods have come to fruition.

Pandorapedia: ISV Venture Star

FTL Communications

Faster-than-light comms in the Avatar universe rely on the principle of entangled particles whereas FTL conversations in the Aliens universe are a function of subspace

Superluminal Communications: Very low bit-rate up- and downlink using McKinney quantum entanglement encoding.

Pandorapedia: ISV Venture Star

vs.

Clemens sipped his tea. "High-level priority communications have to go through subspace to beat the time problem. That costs plenty."

Alien³ Novelisation

Engine technology.

The engines on the Venture Star use matter/antimatter annihilation to generate power and thrust (up to approximately 70% of lightspeed). By comparison, ships in the Aliens universe use fusion reaction and something called a 'tachyon shunt' to achieve FTL speeds. Even small vessels like Ripley's escape shuttle are fitted with these kinds of engines and would be able to make the journey to Alpha Centauri (from Earth) in a fraction of the time it takes the Venture Star to cross.

Additionally, the Venture Star has a gigantic mirror/shield that it uses as a rear-facing laser sail on its outward journey and which rotates to create a shield against interstellar particles once traveling at relativistic speeds. In the Alien universe, this technology simply doesn't exist.

Weyland-Yutani vs. RDA

Within the Avatar universe RDA are described as being (in 2154) as

The largest single non-governmental organization in the human universe.

Pandorapedia: RDA

This conflicts directly with WY's position as the largest of the mega-corportations from a period stretching from the 2100s through to at least 2179 and beyond. Simply put, they can't both be the largest company ever.

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