Mostly, though, it’s a kind of slap in the face to the Native Americans and anyone else conquered and exploited by the European invaders. Because by having white guys as the heroes, even with assistance from an Apache tribe, it’s as if to say, “this is how it’s done.” I guess rather than today’s usual white guilt, this is more an act of white innocence with a ton of white pride—like a declaration that we’re strong enough to avert invasion, and it’s not our fault that others weren’t. Notice that in the title “Cowboys & Aliens,” it’s the Indians who are substituted for new bad guys. Even if “Aliens & Cowboys” had a better ring to it, the phrasing would be incorrect. Cowboys remain first, best, top-billing.
Could be. I can't say much more about this question without seeing the movie. But I'll reiterate that it's lame that the cowboys and Indians weren't equal partners against the aliens.
It's also lame that the protagonists were overwhelmingly white. In the Southwest where the Apache lived (and still live), the local population probably was a quarter to a third Latino, at least. How about having several minority characters in significant roles? And making a point of the humans having to overcome their prejudices to work together?
Killing monsters at the box office
I gather the aliens were mindlessly evil CGI effects. Although destroying monsters can be fun, the best villains--Darth Vader, Hannibal Lecter, the Joker--are more complex. They hold your interest more than creepy crawlers do.
Are overly simplistic heroes and villains what the audience wants? Apparently not. Proving Cowboys and Aliens was lacking something, it didn't crush the opposition at the box office:
Box Office: Spielberg's Struggling 'Cowboys' Stumble on Surging 'Smurfs'
Touting a high-profile roster of producers including Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard, and directed by Jon Favreau, "Cowboys and Aliens" had been projected to take in somewhere between $40 million to $45 million.
For more on Cowboys and Aliens, see Adam Beach on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Indians MIA in Cowboys and Aliens.