It's been four and a half years since Ridley Scott released Prometheus, the first prequel in the Alien franchise that explored the world prior to the director's 1979 sci-fi horror masterpiece. Prometheus introduced us to a crew of scientists as they travel to the distant moon LV-223, in hopes of meeting their makers. While the film received some criticism for leaving a number of questions unanswered, Prometheus was a box office success, and it breathed new life into the franchise following the disappointments of Alien: Resurrection and the Alien vs. Predator spin-off series.
Now, Ridley Scott returns to direct his third Alien film with this year's Alien: Covenant. The film, which is set to be released on May 19, 2017, will serve as a sequel to Prometheus and continue to explore the origins of the human race as orchestrated by the Engineers. Hype for the film has surged following the release of the first trailer just prior to Christmas, and as the release date grows closer, more information about the film continues to slip through the cracks.
Here is Everything We Know So Far About Alien: Covenant.
15 The film promises to answer questions from Prometheus
No one denied that Prometheus was visually captivating, or that the performances by Michael Fassbender and Noomi Rapace were anything less than stellar, but many thought that for a prequel film, Prometheus provided far more questions than answers. The film doesn't take place on the same planet as Alien or Aliens, and though we're introduced to the Last Engineer, he isn't the same Space Jockey that's discovered in the original film. The android David's intentions remain a bit fuzzy as well. He purposefully infects Holloway only to turn around and save Shaw from the Engineers by the end of the movie. And about those Engineers -- why exactly did they want to exterminate us humans in the first place?
Damon Lindelof, one of the writers of the film, has said that many of the viewers' questions were purposefully left unanswered to pave way for a planned sequel (AKA Alien: Covenant). Also, Prometheus was never meant to end exactly where Alien began. After all, what fun is a movie where you already know the ending? Like any good sci-fi film, you're meant to puzzle over a few lingering questions with your friends after the credits roll. That being said, director Ridley Scott confirmed that his latest film will continue to bridge the gap between Prometheus and Alien, and, in turn, answer many of the viewers' questions about the series.
14 More prequels will be needed to link the series to the original Alien
Before you get too excited about having all of your questions answered, you should known that Scott has also stated that more movies will be needed to link the prequel series to the original film. Since Alien: Covenant takes place 10 years after the events of Prometheus, we're still 20 years shy of Alien (that's year 2122 for those who are keeping track), meaning that any number of events could transpire before the Nostromo touches down on LV-426. Therefore, there's at least a third prequel on the way, but Scott has also hinted that a fourth film might even be needed.
However, the director has promised to specifically expand upon the alien morphology with his latest film. While Prometheus introduced us to the Deacon alien (which resulted from a Trilobite impregnating an Engineer), Alien: Covenant will further explore who (or what) made the Xenemorphs. We've been told that these monsters were specifically made to be used as weapons, but who the Xenemorphs were intended to destroy remains shrouded in mystery.
13 The movie introduces a whole new crew
Since the only two characters to make it out of Prometheus alive were Elizabeth Shaw and David's robotic head, Alien: Covenant will introduce audiences to a whole new space crew comprised of accomplished Hollywood actors. Billy Crudup (Big Fish) plays the captain of the spaceship Covenant, while Danny McBride (Pineapple Express) is set to play the ship's pilot. Callie Hernandez (La La Land), Demian Bichir (The Hateful Eight), Carmen Ejogo (Selma) and James Franco (This Is the End) are also slated to appear in the film.
British-born actress Katherine Waterston, who appeared in last year's Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,was cast in the film's leading role. Waterston plays Daniels, a terraforming expert aboard the spaceship who finds herself way out of her element when the planet they arrive on proves to be far more dangerous than expected. The Alien franchise is known for featuring strong and intelligent women in the leading role -- from Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley to Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth Shaw -- and it looks like Alien: Covenant has no intention of undoing that legacy.
12 The movie will return to its horror roots
While all of the films in the Alien franchise have combined elements of science-fiction, horror, and action, Prometheus in particular seemed more like a movie concerned with science vs. religion, rather than human vs. alien. As Scott has said, Prometheus was an attempt to reinvigorate a franchise that felt worn out. The director wanted to explore the question of who is god, as opposed to just making another movie about "a monster in a tin can killing people."
If you've already seen the film's trailer, particularly the red band version, you don't need us to tell you that Alien: Covenant already looks far more gruesome than its predecessor. The trailer opens with bloody footprints trailing down the dark hallway of a spaceship, and proceeds to show us that a number of the crew members have already been quarantined off due to infection. Even Danny McBride, who is known for his comedic chops, said in an interview, "There is no comic relief in this at all; this is a dark horror movie."
11 Noomi Rapace will reprise her role as Elizabeth Shaw
Despite the new cast coming aboard, Noomi Rapace is still expected to make an appearance in Alien: Covenant. Initially, Ridley Scott claimed that Rapace would not return to play Shaw for the sequel, but apparently plans have changed since the actress reportedly shot weeks' worth of footage for the film in Australia and New Zealand, where the majority of principal photography took place. It's unclear what role Shaw will play in the latest film, but since 10 years have passed since Prometheus, some have speculated that she may only appear in flashbacks.
In Prometheus, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw was an archeologist who helped discover the star map that lead them to LV-223 to make contact with their makers. Even after discovering that Engineers created mankind, Shaw continues to believe in Christianity, citing that a higher power must have first created the Engineers. After surviving an impregnation and extraction of an alien squid, Shaw becomes the only human survivor of the spaceship Prometheus. At the end of the film she departs with David in hopes of reaching the Engineers' home planet to continue her quest for answers.
10 Michael Fassbender will play two different androids
In the official plot synopsis released for the film, the android David is the sole survivor of the spaceship Prometheus, and the only inhabitant of the planet that the spaceship Covenant arrives on. However, the new crew has an android of their own named Walter, and Walter is identical to David, albeit more advanced. Since Michael Fassbender did such a superb job in the first film, many are intrigued that the actor will be playing two similar, yet distinct characters in the new film.
From the trailer it's impossible to know which android is which, but since the androids appear either dressed in black or white, one can speculate that David and Walter will likely be at odds with one another. David certainly did his fair share of meddling in the first film; he brought an alien canister aboard the spaceship and purposefully infected Holloway to see what happens. Now that David's master, Peter Wayland, is dead, who knows what the ever-curious android will do to the crew members of the Covenant.
9 There's a new breed of aliens called "Neomorphs"
In an interview with BBC Radio 2, Michael Fassbender revealed that a new bread of alien will make its debut in Alien: Covenant. These creatures will be called Neomorphs, and they will be close in appearance to the Xenomorph. While Xenomorphs are created by a face-hugger attaching itself to a human host, Neomorphs are a result of the black liquid reeking havoc on the ecosystem of the Engineers' planet. In the trailer we see spores being released from organic pods after they're disturbed by a crew member walking through the wilderness. These spores can enter a host through the ears, mouth, or nostrils, resulting in infection.
While the Xenomorphs are famous for bursting through a host's chest, we see a Neomorph graphically breaking through a man's spine in the trailer, which has already lead to the new term "back-bursters." While we have yet to get our first look at a Neomorph, we've been told that they will appear like a white Xenomorph, complete with two dorsal spikes, a tail, and a set of fangs. After birth, the Neomorphs walk around on fours before developing a bipedal stance. As for their demeanor, we don't need the filmmakers to tell us that this new breed of alien will be extremely hostile toward humans.
8 But the previous creatures will also return
Prometheus introduced a lot of new creatures into the franchise: the Trilobite, the Deacon alien, even the Engineers themselves. Though these creatures were impressive in their own rights, many Alien fans were disappointed that the prequel did not include any of the series' most famous monsters. This is something that will be reconciled in the latest film, as Ridley Scott said in an interview with The Wrap, "We'll have them all: egg, face-hugger, chest-burster, then the big boy."
So far Scott is holding true to his promise. In the trailer, we already got a glimpse of the new crew stumbling upon an alien egg. As Billy Crudup, who plays the new captain of the ship, approaches the pod it slowly opens up, revealing something swimming inside mere moments before a face-hugger shoots out at him. And just before the trailer ends, we see two crew members about to have sex in the shower before we get a glimpse of the "big boy" himself. No, that's not a double entendre. Instead, it means the Xenomorphs will indeed make their first debut in the prequel series.
7 Jed Kurzel is composing the score
Initially, composer Harry Gregson-Williams, who is known for scoring the Metal Gear Solid video games, was expected to compose the score for Alien: Covenant after previously working on the music for Prometheus. However, Gregson-Williams left the project, citing schedule issues and creative differences. Since then, composer Jed Kurzel has taken up the task of scoring the film.
Kurzel is the younger brother of Justin Kurzel, who director Snowtown and last year's Assassin's Creed. The two brothers often work together, with Jed composing the music for most of Justin's films, including Assassin's Creed, which also starred Michael Fassbender. Jed also composed the score to the 2014 Australian horror film The Babadook, proving that he certainly knows how to produce a piece of eerie music. Along with Kurzel, Norwegian singer and songwriter AURORA is also expected to contribute to the film's soundtrack, and she can be heard singing the song "Nature Boy" in the film's trailer.
6 The crew is made up of colonists
While the crew in the original Alien landed on LV-426 to answer a distress call, and the crew in Prometheus ventured to LV-223 to meet their makers, the crew in Alien: Covenant travels to their distant planet with the hopes of colonizing it. While the exact planet they travel to has yet to be confirmed, it appears as though the crew ends up on the original home of the Engineers. As Scott has said in an interview, the newcomers are going to see what happened to this planet, and they're going to find that it was a disaster.
Katherine Waterston said about her character, "She's a member of a ship of colonists who are heading to a planet that they've been preparing to go to for a long time - a place that they have reason to believe they can sustain life."
Waterston plays the crew's chief terraformist, who is responsible for growing crops and setting up living spaces for the crew. Of course, they all encounter a hitch or two in the process, but their training as colonists may very well help them combat the new alien infection which spreads through the ecosystem.
5 The crew is comprised of couples
It wouldn't do much good colonizing a planet if you don't plan on procreating there. Therefore, the crew of the Covenant is comprised of couples who plan on doing just that. In fact, we've been told that everybody on the ship knows at least one other crew member very well, which certainly ups the stakes as each character must fight to not only save themselves, but their significant others as well.
James Franco was announced as part of the cast just this past December. He's rumored to play Branson, Daniels' husband and the former captain of the Covenant. Before Waterston was cast as the film's lead, actress Rebecca Ferguson was also considered for the role of Daniels, and we can't help but think that both of these actresses resemble Sigourney Weaver. Might Daniels and Branson be the long-lost parents of Ellen Ripley? We expect this answer will have to wait until the film's release.
4 Many of the effects will be practical
Does anyone actually prefer CGI when it comes to watching a horror movie? We didn't think so. So you can rest assured knowing that Alien: Covenant will continue to use practical effects to portray a number of the film's monsters. Actors with slender builds and experience performing acrobatics or gymnastic-type movements were sought out to play the film's aliens. Performers that were either very short or very tall were preferred, as the Xenomorphs are known to grow at an alarming rate. Odd Studios produced the creature suits and makeup that will be seen in the film, while Animal Logic contributed the digital effects.
The Alien franchise is known for its impressive practical effects, dating all the way back to the infamous chest-burster scene in the original film. This effect was produced by having actor John Hurt stick his head up through a hole in the table while the baby Xenomorph burst out of a fake torso. Unbeknownst to the other actors, fake blood was shot out of air cannons to incite a genuine response, which resulted in actress Veronica Cartwright falling to the floor hysterically.
3 The Weyland-Yutani Corporation will return
One of the first official set photos released for Alien: Covenant was the logo of the Weyland-Yutani Corp. embroidered on an astronaut's space suit. The corporation, often referred to as Wey-Yu, looms large in the Alien franchise, as they often fund expeditions that end up going horribly, horribly wrong. In Prometheus, we finally meet the founder of the Weyland Corp., Sir Peter Weyland, who was played by Guy Pearce. Pearce is even expected to return to the role in Alien: Covenant, despite his character being killed by the Engineers at the end of Prometheus.
The corporation was founded in 2099 after the British company, Weyland, and the Japanese company, Yutani, merged. Weyland-Yutani is at the forefront of the colonization of distant planets, which makes it no mistake that they're funding the Covenant expedition. However, the company is also known for its covert missions to gather information about the Xenomorph. This biological weapon could be of great use to the corp, and Weyland-Yutani doesn't seem to mind how many of their employees die in their attempt to increase the company's profit margins.
2 The previous title may hint at overall theme
The title "Prometheus" definitely gave us clues as to what the story was going to be about before the film was ever released. Our speculations were then confirmed when Peter Weyland explicitly tells the story of Prometheus to the space crew, and in turn, the audience. Prometheus was a Greek Titan who stole fire from Mount Olympus and created mankind. This action that would later result in Prometheus being eternally punished by Zeus. Since the word "covenant" is a bit open ended, we'll have to look at the new film's previous title if we want to extrapolate any definitive meaning.
Before settling on Alien: Covenant, the film was going under the title Alien: Paradise Lost. Paradise Lost is a 17th century epic poem written by John Milton, about the origins of Satan, and the expulsion of Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden. Since the crew is comprised of couples looking to colonize an uncharted planet, they represent the Adam and Eve of the story, while the creatures represent Satan. Milton himself has said that Paradise Lost was meant to justify the ways of God to men, so it's possible that Alien: Covenant will not only explain why the Engineers planned to annihilate the human race, but the film may also find that the Engineers had justification for doing so.
1 The film postponed Alien 5
Maybe you're a traditionalist, and you'd rather find out what's become of Ellen Ripley than see the fate of the spaceship Covenant. If that's the case, we have some unfortunate news. While Alien 5 is still planning on going ahead with production and Sigourney Weaver is still set to star, Ridley Scott, who will serve as a produce for the film, has requested that the production be put on hold so he could complete his work on Covenant first. Therefore, the plot and release date for Alien 5 are still unknown.
What we do know, is that the film is expected to complete the story arc for the character of Ripley while also bringing back Michael Beihn as Cpt. Dwayne Hicks. Neill Blomkamp, who's directed other sci-fi thrillers including District 9 and Elysium, will take up the task of finishing Ripley's story. While Alien 5 will not rewrite the stories of Alien 3 and Alien: Resurrection, it will largely ignore the events that took place so it can pick up where Aliens left off. And for that, we are grateful.
So what are you most looking forward to about Alien: Covenant? Fassbender's dual roles? The return of the Xenomorphs? A new female heroine? Let us know in the comments!