Humanoid

There are so many sci-fi and superhero TV shows and movies that depict creatures from other planets. These beings developed lightyears away from Earth in their own unique environments and their own set of selective pressures, and yet they always seems to be humanoid in form, laterally symmetrical bipeds (at least the most advanced and “highly evolved” ones). Not only are they similar physically, but culturally and socially as well, or at least the dominant culture and social norms of the species are extremist or ideal versions of common ones on Earth. In many cases these beings come from highly advanced societies compared to Earth in terms of technology and chronological age suggesting that they are truly the epitome of evolution where they are from, Kryptonians, Viltrumites, Titans, to name a few.

Sure there’s an argument that humans are the dominant species on Earth, and therefore there must be some objective truth to the supremacy of our form, but honestly I think humans just got lucky. The right extinction events, the right mutations, the right pressures, the right environmental conditions, at the right time. As wonderfully organized as our bodies can seem on dissection I don’t think they are particularly advanced compared to other animals, its our brains that are highly developed, much more so than our bodies. I am convinced that if cephalopods, with their independently-moving tentacles and adaptive bodies, were the creatures to develop our current level of “intelligence,” instead of humans, that species would be interplanetary already.

All that said I also realize that its harder to make stories for humans with characters that we can’t relate to in some way or human form is needed in some way to drive the plot forward, so it makes sense to stay away from weird looking alien main characters when you are making a story about humans or a commentary on humans. I do think the movie Arrival does a really good job imagining beings whose understanding of the universe and the way they interact with it is beyond our immediate comprehension.

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