(USA TODAY) - Alien baddies are s-s-sizzlin' this summer. We are definitely not alone.
In fact, anyone wondering if other life exists in this universe need look no further than the local multiplex. This summer, it's teeming with alien baddies vying for word supremacy in the movies and the box office.
Taylor Kitsch alone has to fight odd two sets of antagonists, in John Carter and then Battleship. An attack by outer-space thugs brought The Avengers superheroes together for a screen battle that held the top spot for three weeks, until Men in Black 3 and its team of intergalactic alien eccentrics (127 varieties) blasted in.
Prometheus just hit the box office with $50 million opening weekend, one in which four of the top 10 movies featured alien foes. Next month, Vince Vaughn and Ben Stiller will band together to battle an other-wordly neighborhood menace in The Watch (July 27).
"There really has been a disproportionate amount of extraterrestrials this summer," says Damon Lindelof, Prometheus' screenwriter and executive producer. "And to be honest, you can never have too many aliens for me. I'm a big fan of baddies from other planets."
The reasoning is simple: Where are we going to find enough brutish bad guys to fight the heroes from an entire summer movie calendar? The infinity of outer space, of course.
"Aliens are just enormously effective bad guys," says Lindelof. "Especially when you've got incredibly proficient heroes. When you are asking yourself the very difficult question of what would it take to provide The Avengers with a good challenge, the answer is alien invaders."
Aliens also provide common cause for an increasingly united movie world, where no particular country is singled out as the baddie.
"We may all have our differences in the world, but when it comes to aliens invading Earth, we're all in the same boat," says Chuck Walton, editor of the movie website Fandango.com. "Hostile aliens are great that way. No audience can be offended since the evil is from another place."
Makeup special-effects artist Rick Baker, who has created creature in movies from 1977's Star Wars to main baddie Boris the Animal in Men in Black 3, says, "There's a built-in fascination with the possibility of life on other planets and what it looks like. Things seem to go in waves in this."
Add this to the global recession, which is pushing people to true movie-theater escapism.
"Real life has been disappointing lately. So we're turning to heavens a little more than usual, even if it's going to kick our (butt)," says Shawn Levy, producer of The Watch.
Levy concedes that when he started developing the comedy three years ago, "We didn't know it would be coming out in a summer of alien invasions." But his ensemble cast became more focused on turning the ripe genre on its head with the comedy.
"No team of heroes is more unqualified to defend our planet than ours," Levy says. But when people are good at what they do, it's not really."
Lindelof believes that while alien hordes might be eternal, the Hollywood intensity will die down by summer's end.
"It feels like audiences might be reaching a breaking point and they are saying, 'Enough with the aliens already,'" he says. "And then it will be time for killer robots."