Skip to content

After years of having xenomorphs and predators battle it out over the corpses of college kids, news of Ridley Scott’s return to the Alien series was met with praise that would shake the heavens. After subpar sequels and spinoffs, the man himself would be returning to helm the latest Alien film. What audiences got was Prometheus, a film that blended the horrific xenomorphs with the foundations of a deeper mythology. Filmgoers were perplexed, especially once Ridley Scott began denying that Prometheus was tied into the Alien mythology. A second sequel by Neill Blomkamp (District 9, Elysium)  was in development to “finish off Ripley’s story,” but alas, it was not to be. Scott later followed up saying that Prometheus is part of the Alien mythos, with Alien: Covenant being a sequel to the film and the start of a new prequel series that will eventually tie into Alien. Way to confuse everyone, Ridley. Now that we have clarity on where the series is going, we can turn an eye to Alien: Covenant and what the focus on a creationist myth will mean for the past Alien film series. Take heed, as there will be spoilers for both Prometheus and light spoilers for Alien: Covenant.

Let’s start from the beginning, or rather the new beginning of the Alien saga. Prometheus starts in 2089 with the protagonists going to the stars in search of humanity’s creators. At the behest of the Weyland Corporation, archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and Charlie Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green) travel to the distant moon of LV-223 alongside a team of scientists and an android named David (Michael Fassbender). What’s fundamentally important to the film is Shaw and David’s ideological beliefs, and particularly what ultimately happens when they clash. Shaw is religious, seeking an analogy for some sort of creator to explain humanity’s purpose. When the expedition reveals that there was a creator, Shaw’s faith is validated and she continues her quest to find a reason for humanity and suffering after the death of her father.  Then there’s David, someone who acknowledges his own artificiality. In this clip of the film, David and Holloway discuss the achievement of meeting humanity’s “makers.” Holloway states that androids were created on a whim, something that he, himself, acknowledges would be an unsatisfactory answer. David is constantly seen as inferior to his human counterparts, acknowledged in this pre-release clip. He is only superior to humans in the sense that he will not fall sway to emotions. Upon the discovery of a cylinder on the planet, David takes it aboard and uses the liquid that comes forth to contaminate Holloway’s drink, which will ultimately kill him. This one action spurs a different kind of creation as Shaw and Holloway have sex that results in an alien fetus that begins gestating inside Shaw.

It’s at this point where an element of the two films, instrumental to the comprehension of the series’s thematic elements, comes into play. The myth of Prometheus, in addition to being the first film’s title, plays a key role in the narrative of this new series and it is alluded to constantly. It is first brought up in pre release materials from Peter Weyland himself, it’s the name of the ship, and had anyone truly grasped the story, it would have spared the crew a lot of dramatic irony. For those not up on their Greek mythology: Prometheus was the son of Iapetus, one of the older Titans that helped create the universe. There was a ten year series of battles between the older Titans and younger Olympians known as the Titanomachy, but that’s a whole different kettle of fish that we’re not going to go into. What’s important is that the Olympians win and Zeus allows Prometheus to assist in the creation of humans. Prometheus loved humans more than anything and went out of his way to bestow gifts upon humanity. Depending on what version of the myth is being read, either humanity never had the ability to use fire or Zeus has taken it away as a punishment for a trick by Prometheus. Prometheus, in his hubris, stole a fennel stalk of fire and gave it to humanity. He is then punished by Zeus for this by being chained to a rock and having an eagle peck out his liver daily for all eternity. This myth touches on a lot of important elements in various creation myths, but for this particular series it leans heavily on the importance of not defying those who created you. This scene, which was deleted from the theatrical release, plays the comparison more explicit. Peter Weyland craves the same immortality from the Engineers simply because he too, is a creator of beings, having crafted David from nothing just as they did with humanity. In the TED talk with Weyland, it’s clear that his interpretation of the myth has its own tragic consequence. Blinded by his own ambition, Weyland aligns himself with the gods, when in reality, he is still a speck on the surface of the Earth, despite his achievements.  

Next chronologically is Alien: Covenant, the official beginning of the prequel series, but still the sequel to Prometheus. All of the details that can be gleaned about the film are largely from promotional material, but there is a plethora of information. The first bit comes from the film’s prologue which delves deeper into the conclusion of Prometheus and shows that David and Shaw make it to the Engineer’s home planet. The first teaser trailer showcases the latest Weyland Industries crew as they explore a very similar looking planet to that of the Engineer as seen in the first prologue. They successfully get to what appears to be Shaw’s ship from Prometheus, discovering the now abandoned orrery.  This brief clip highlights the new Ripley figure, named Daniels, as well as her relationship to her crew and her reaction to alien infestation. Daniels is the captain’s wife and a strong figure in her own right. The second trailer goes more in-depth about the mission and thus, is more of a spoiler than anything else seen so far; it showcases the paradise the Covenant crew descend upon and their investigation into Shaw’s ship that kickstarts the hell that awaits them. There is a second prologue to the film which largely showcases crew dynamics and the importance of the mission, and an informational look at the creation of the new Walter android. However, there is something off about the previews. In all the trailers, aside from the first prologue, there is no trace of Shaw. Where is she?

Finally, we arrive at the unknown future of the Alien anthology and the certain future of Weyland Industries. Ridley Scott, a man with an indecisive quip in an interview, is quoted as saying there will be a follow up to Covenant if not several more films. Considering the emphasis on religious themes in the first two films, it’s safe to say audiences are in for more mythology intertwined with their chestbursters. Both Prometheus and Alien: Covenant have spiritual believers on their crews, and the vibe of Covenant comes across as a punishment against those who dare invoke the wrath of the gods. The rest of the series doesn’t contain such ideological implications so this origin story of the Queen has limited ways to color the films of the past. The only certainty is all roads lead to the Nostromo crew being awakened by a distress signal in deep space.

One thought on “A Guide to the “Alien” Prequel Series Leave a comment

Make yourself heard!