[Potential mild spoilers for Alien: Covenant]
Alien: Covenant is both a sequel and a prequel; it will ostensibly show a xenomorph-tinged horror adventure set a few decades before the 1979 original, but will also address several of the dangling plot threads left by Ridley Scott's previous return to the franchise he created, Prometheus. Michael Fassbender is back as both David and new android Walter, and there's the long-speculated return of Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth Shaw (in some form).
Fassbender in particular has a lot to do. Recently, a viral tease introduced the high-tech Walter and new footage shown at SXSW has elaborated on some of David's role in the plot, suggesting he has a bigger part in the creation of the series' central extra-terrestrial monster than first suspected. And it now emerges there's even more to him than that.
Talking to Vanity Fair, Scott revealed Covenant will open with a prologue that shows David's creation; we see Fassbender's "big beautiful blue eye - you see every vein" and Peter Weyland, the android's creator and funder of the Prometheus mission played by a returning Guy Pearce, engages in conversation with his newborn, which ends with him being called "father". Talking about the weight of the sequence compared to previous Alien movies, Scott was keen to play up the complex ideas at play:
"[It will] really get people going because it’s f*cking smart for a change."
Guy Pearce returning for the Prometheus sequel was rumored late last year and reports since have stated this as fact, but this provides resolute confirmation of a cameo. Pearce played the character under heavy aging makeup in the 2012 prequel, with a handful of youthful appearances in the viral marketing (he was originally set to play a younger Weyland as part of a dream sequence in the movie proper). This brief appearance gives him a chance to play the character on film without the prosthetics.
The real impact of the scene, however, is on Fassbender, who increasingly looks to be the core of the movie. Indeed, talking about the grander scope of the franchise, star Katherine Waterson shot down the notion of her being the main character:
"It’s the A.I. that’s the real connective tissue of this franchise. People keep saying I’m the Ripley. I’m not. It’s Fassbender."
David was the standout element of Prometheus, so it's very good to hear he's going to be a big part of the sequel. The Lawrence of Arabia-inspired robot was a more chilling take on the increasingly almost-human androids of the original Alien run, and it looks like Scott's really steering into that.
Prometheus has found its fair share of critics since release, specifically in regard to the illogical characters and overly mysterious plot. While a sequel can't do much about the former, it looks like Alien: Covenant is directly addressing the latter, with a greater expansion of the themes at play in the hope of improving the film retroactively (something the creatives reportedly talked to Vanity Fair about). Scott has recently stated he'd quite happily keep making Alien movies "forever", so it's unlikely that Covenant will provide complete answers for where the xenomorphs came from and the breadth of Engineer society, but if it can round off the core themes it can still be a great entry in the series.
Source: Vanity Fair