Warning: Minor spoilers for Alien: Covenant ahead
Red band trailers are always worth a watch, even if sometimes what they show can be difficult to stomach. Case in point: the latest red band trailer for Ridley Scott’s follow-up to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant, adds a gruesome new shot of what appears to be a person with half of their skin removed, to expose the muscles and skeleton. Fans of the franchise may understandably be curious about what this is, and we’re able to offer some answers.
Last summer, Screen Rant was fortunate enough to visit the set of Alien: Covenant at Fox Studios Australia in Sydney, and one of the highlights of the set tour was the creature workshop – where everything from facehuggers (whose “leaping” is the work of a spring-powered mini cannon) to the classic xenomorph and even the brand new neomorph were on display. One model in particular that drew our attention was what appeared to be an anatomical model of an Engineer – the alien race that created humanity. This is what is shown in the trailer.
As for why it’s in the movie – well, the culprit is Michael Fassbender’s curious android, David, who has been living on the Engineers’ homeworld for years when the crew of a colony ship, the Covenant, arrives to join him. During this time, David has set up a lab where he has been studying the Engineers and the xenomorphs’ biology (you can see a sketch of the facehugger in the image above. There’s also another shot of David’s laboratory in the trailer, where a Covenant crew member is shown exploring the room before a xenomorph drops onto his unfortunate head.
Since it was so eye-catching, Creatures Supervisor Conor O’Sullivan was asked if he could say anything about the Engineer model. He was careful about his answer – at first replying “not… really” – but was able to tell us that, “David’s working on something, he’s actually building… It’s an anatomical study of Engineer.” Like most of the alien creatures created in the workshop, this Engineer model is made out of silicone, and is based on the design of classic waxwork models.
The above screenshot shows a different body laid out on a table, though it’s hard to tell whether it’s an Engineer or a human. The shot also shows various specimens laid out, and more sketches – including a sketch of the neomorph, and a drawing that looks a lot like Boris Karloff in Frankenstein (Easter egg, or surprise crossover?).
David’s anatomical study of the Engineer raises a couple of interesting questions. First of all, if the body is real rather than a model (it certainly looks… gooey) then where did David find a fresh Engineer body? The trailer also shows that the Engineers’ homeworld has been subject to some kind of cataclysmic event, with thousands of blackened, fossilized bodies littering the city (these were based on photos of the bodies at Pompeii, which were preserved in volcano ash). Perhaps whatever happened to the Engineers preserved them well enough for David to study the bodies, or perhaps there was still a surviving Engineer when he and Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) arrived on the planet.
The other question is why David is studying the Engineers’ anatomy. Obviously, he and Elizabeth set out for the Engineers’ homeworld in search of an answer to why the progenitor race wanted to destroy their own creation. Perhaps studying their physiological make-up is the key to answering that question, or perhaps (and this may be a stretch) David is interested in creating life of his own, just as he was created by humans. If that’s the case, the Frankenstein drawing would certainly make sense.