Reactions to Ridley Scott’s Prometheus have been all over the map. Many people are embracing the movie for its ambition, while others have expressed frustration over how (infuriatingly) close the spinoff came to being a proper Alien prequel. A noteworthy number of people are having far more extreme reactions, judging by the number of claims online about Prometheus screening walk-outs.
As was discussed during the SR Underground ‘Prometheus’ Podcast: the important thing is that virtually everyone who has seen Prometheus has been very passionate in their response (be it enthusiastic or enraged). If you subscribe to the school of thought that there’s no such thing as bad publicity, then it’s near impossible to argue that the moviegoing masses won’t (at the least) consider a sequel to Prometheus as something they want to see. Going by the early global box office returns, 20th Century Fox is likely to heed those wishes.
So where do you go with a sequel to a film that’s literally about… well, everything? As anyone can tell you (including, Scott and co-screenwriter Damon Lindelof), Prometheus raises more questions than it answers – be it about the mythology of the greater Alien universe or the cyclical nature of creation, destruction, and evolution, as explored in the movie. Obviously, in order to touch on what details the filmmakers have announced so far, we have to venture into spoiler territory.
DO NOT CONTINUE READING IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN PROMETHEUS!!!
In a recent THR interview, Scott had the following to say about Prometheus:
“From the very beginning, I was working from a premise that lent itself to a sequel. I really don’t want to meet God in the first one. I want to leave it open to [Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace)] saying, ‘I don’t want to go back to where I came from. I want to go where they came from… Because [the Engineers] are such aggressive f**kers, I always had it in there that the God-like creature that you will see actually is not so nice, and is certainly not God. I’d love to explore where [Dr. Shaw] goes next and what does she do when she gets there, because if it is paradise, paradise can not be what you think it is. Paradise has a connotation of being extremely sinister and ominous.”
Check out one of said Engineers (via Rope of Silicon) below:
Ultimately, the connection between Alien and Prometheus was as tenuous as the cast and crew of the latter had insisted throughout the build-up to its theatrical release. Hence, it’s no surprise to hear that Scott intends to carry on the central narrative thread left dangling by the ending of Prometheus with a sequel – rather than concern himself primarily with filling in lingering holes in the tapestry that links Prometheus to Alien. Is it possible the followup could accomplish both tasks, in spite of that?
In order to break down that question, let’s first examine two big plot elements that should be covered in a Prometheus sequel:
The History and Culture of the Engineers
By the conclusion of Prometheus, very little information has been provided about Engineer culture. As Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) voices aloud before setting off to the Engineer planet with David (Michael Fassbender) – or, rather, David’s severed head – there is much to be explained in terms of where the creatures came from, and what inspired them to create humanity in the first place (before attempting to eradicate it).
Furthermore, there is a whole lot of ambiguity surrounding such issues pertaining to how many planets the Engineers have populated with life via rituals similar to that portrayed during the opening minutes of Prometheus; whether Xenomorphs are regarded as higher-evolved beings and (essentially) worshipped as deities by the Engineers, as one could interpret from the presence of a Xeno-like carving in the Ampule Room on LV-223; and if the Engineer’s decision to manufacture black goo material that transforms other sorts of organic life, is the true allegory for the mythological tragedy of the demigod Prometheus overstepping his boundaries.
The Relationship Between Elizabeth Shaw and David
When we say “relationship” between those two characters – who were also the most fully-realized and engaging players in Prometheus - we’re speaking both literally and on the figurative level. By the conclusion of that film, David’s “creator” Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) has perished, and is thus no longer around to command the android. Does that mean Shaw will now become David’s “god,” or are the two on more equal footing – a pair of explorers out to uncover certain truths about the universe, rather than a master and their servant?
During an interview with Time Entertainment, Lindelof addressed that very topic:
“I think they’re going where [Shaw] wants to go. [David's] fundamental programming has been scrapped. Weyland [the man who built and programmed him] is dead and so now his programming is coming from God knows where. Is he being programmed by Elizabeth, or is it his own internal curiosity now that Weyland isn’t telling him what to do any more? He’s always been interested in Elizabeth, remember that: He’s watching her dreams when she’s sleeping in much the same way that he watches ‘Lawrence of Arabia’. He’s a strange robot that has a curious crush on a human being, and when Weyland is eliminated, I think he is genuinely interested in what she’s interested in. He reaches out partly for survival, but partly out of curiosity, and I think he’s sincere that he’ll take her wherever she wants to go.”
Prometheus disposed of the less interesting characters – along with those whose primary purpose was to explain how Elizabeth and David came to be on their personal space odyssey, and an explanation for their mindsets at the outset of that journey. It will also be interesting to see how the dynamic between that duo (an actual human being and anthropomorphized machine) unfolds in the sequel, and how the relationship ultimately reflects upon and parallels that of Elizabeth and her “creators.”
In summation: a Prometheus sequel could certainly branch out beyond the realm of being an Alien spinoff, so as to move closer to establishing a science-fiction mythos that stands on its own. However, over the course of doing so, the film has the potential to also provide more backstory on the Xenomorph, along with the history behind how one Engineer crashed on LV-426 – and, inadvertently, unleashed a dangerous new species similar to the monster(s) birthed on LV-223. Ironically, that means a sequel has the capability to provide Alien fans with something closer to the answers they were seeking from Prometheus, while also fully succeeding where its predecessor fell short: being a satisfying, standalone work.
Bear in mind, Scott is about to commence with shooting on The Counselor, so don’t expect to hear news about a Prometheus sequel being put on the fast-track for production in the immediate future. However, so long as the final box office total is satisfactory for Fox (re: results in a profit), everything else is in place for the project to happen.
What are you hoping to get out of a Prometheus sequel? Do you even have an interest in seeing one? Sound off in the comments section.
Meanwhile, Prometheus is currently playing in theaters around the world.