NB: The following contains spoilers for Prometheus and much speculation about its sequel.
Ridley Scott’s Prometheus was a film of opposites. It explored grand ideas about myths and creation, yet its setting was a desolate and largely empty planet that offered few conclusive answers. It was about alien beings blessed with godlike, unfathomable intelligence, yet the human scientists who went off to meet them were a neurotic, hapless bunch.
Reactions to Prometheus from critics and series fans were mixed, but the box office receipts piled high enough to encourage 20th Century Fox to consider a sequel. Ridley Scott and cast members Noomi Rapace and Michael Fassbender had been talking about the possibility of a follow-up as long ago as 2012, when the director said that another film was required to “bridge the gap” between the events of Prometheus and Alien.
On the 24th March, it was seemingly confirmed that what was once enigmatically called an Untitled Ridley Scott Project is in fact Prometheus 2, which will start production later this year. It was also reported that Michael Green – one of the screenwriters behind Green Lantern and Scott’s own forthcoming Blade Runner sequel – had been signed up to polish an existing script by Transcendence writer Jack Paglen.
The juiciest piece of gossip, however, is that Michael Fassbender is set to play what The Wrap describes as “multiple” versions of the android, David. If it’s true, what could this mean for Prometheus 2, and where else could the film take the story, given the conclusion of its predecessor?
Onward to Paradise
Although heavy on slow build-up, the plot of Prometheus was quite straightforward: a group of scientists, led by Noomi Rapace’s starry-eyed archaeologist Elizabeth Shaw, heads off on a mission to the distant moon, LV-223. Led to the location by a star map left behind by early humans, the explorers hope to come face to face with what they call the Engineers – a race of beings that created life on Earth.
The explorers arrive to find the moon eerily empty, its giant inhabitants apparently killed by their own technology. Thanks in part to their curiosity and the secret experiments of Michael Fassbender’s synthetic human, David, a dormant alien threat is unleashed: one explorer is turned into a mutant zombie, while Elizabeth is impregnated by a squid-like proto chestburster. Meanwhile, David thaws out his decrepit master Peter Weyland, who’s planned the mission in order to meet the Engineers and ask them to reveal the secret of eternal life.
To this end, David revives an Engineer he’s found hidden in a cryo-chamber beneath the planet, only to find the hulking being in particularly ill humour. Having despatched Peter Weyland and decapitated David, the Engineer then heads off after Elizabeth Shaw, still reeling from an emergency Caesarean. During a final confrontation, Elizabeth defends herself with a fire axe, before rescue arrives in an unlikely form: the hideous squid creature she had removed her abdomen a short while earlier, now fully grown, smothers the Engineer and gives Elizabeth the time to escape.
Gathering up David’s still-conscious detached head, Elizabeth clambers into an Engineer ship, and heads off in the direction of the Engineers’ home world.
Now, while Prometheus‘ conclusion leaves the door open for a sequel, it also poses certain problems for whoever has to write it. In classic Alien style, the cast of the first film are largely gone, and all we’re left with is Elizabeth and David’s head in a bowling bag. Alien ended more or less the same way (Ripley and Jones the cat), but James Cameron’s sequel found a way to introduce Ripley to a new cast of relatable characters.
Prometheus 2, meanwhile, will presumably see Elizabeth visit the Engineers’ home planet, with David’s decapitated head serving as a translator between she and the aliens (David is, as the first film demonstrated, fluent in the Engineers’ language). But if the rumour of multiple Davids is true, then Prometheus 2 could take a slightly different direction: back on Earth, a second David could be despatched, probably by Weyland Yutani, to find out what happened to the first mission. It’s likely that he wouldn’t be going by himself either – he’ll more than likely be joined by a few other scientists or Yutani employees who haven’t yet learned of the company’s contempt for human life.
At the end of Prometheus, we saw a new type of alien creature – nicknamed the Deacon – emerge from the now very dead Engineer back on LV-223. Given that this is an infant, we can only guess at what sort of monstrosity it will grow into. It isn’t too much of a stretch to assume that this new monster will have some sort of impact on the sequel’s plot, either – particularly if a crew led by a second David does attempt to go poking around in the remains of the USCSS Prometheus.
Meanwhile, there’s the Engineers’ home planet to consider. In Prometheus, Idris Elba’s accordion-playing captain Janek suggested that LV-223 is a military base, with its canisters of black goo essentially a world-destroying weapon intended for Earth. The planet Elizabeth’s heading for, then, is likely to be far removed from the grey ball of rock she’s left behind.
Plus there’s the lingering question: why did the Engineers create us, only to change their minds and plan to wipe us out again? We’re hoping that the rumour circulating a few years ago, that Jesus was an Engineer and the black goo was their intended retribution, isn’t true.
The Dark Horse Prometheus comics
Prometheus left us with numerous questions, but we won’t necessarily have to wait until the sequel arrives in March 2016 (its current due date) to find out all the answers. A few months ago, Dark Horse announced that it was relaunching its Alien, Predator and Alien Vs Predator comic lines, and adding a fourth: a Prometheus comic, which will “delve into some of the questions” left behind by the 2012 film.
“I know some people hated [Prometheus] and some people loved it,” publisher Mike Richardson told Comic Book Resources. “I’m one of the people who loved it, and we’re going to delve into some of the questions that Ridley’s people have allowed us to delve into. So we’ll address some things that seemed unanswerable, and we’ve got answers for all of them – that’s one of the reasons why the story people at Fox are excited by this.”
Dark Horse’s Scott Allie revealed that the stories of all four comic books will be connected in some way, which means we could see some form of cross-over between the Engineers of Prometheus and their mysterious canisters of goo, the classic xenomorphs of the Alien franchise, and the big game hunters of Predator.”The stories are very intertwined,” Allie told io9 back in January. “A lot of shared characters, in some cases sort of a sense of one series being a sequel to another.”
Allie also revealed that the Prometheus comic would see “a recon crew […] return to LV-223”, and that it would explore “the nature of synthetic life.” Will this story connect to the plot of the Prometheus 2 movie and its reported multiple Davids?
A more Alien sequel
Although not without its good points – not least a great performance from Michael Fassbender and some eye-catching production design – Prometheus seemed more than a little lacking in terms of dialogue, characterisation and plot. Those are fairly major things to fix for any writer coming on board for a sequel, but it’s possible that Michael Green could do just that. Elizabeth Shaw and David aside, the slate was effectively wiped clean at the end of Prometheus; all the characters were dead, giving Green the chance to start more-or-less afresh.
Hollywood sources have said that Prometheus 2 is going for a horror tone more akin to Alien. If those reports are true, then maybe, just maybe, Prometheus 2 really can provide a satisfying bridge to Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic.
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