The recent Alien prequels have taken the classic sci-fi franchise in a very different direction to the originals, introducing a plethora of new concepts and themes. One of the most recurring and surprising addition to this backstory is the high amount of religious references.
What makes this so surprising is the fact that director and writer Ridley Scott is a staunch atheist. In an interview with Collider, he once said that "one of the biggest problems in the world is the word we call religion. That creates more problems than anything else in the goddamn universe."
And yet despite his stance on religion, he still includes an inordinate amount of religious metaphors in his films.
For example, "The Last Supper," which was released on YouTube as a prologue to Alien: Covenant, has obvious and intentional parallels with the Leonardo da Vinci painting of the same name. You can see the similarities between both images above, from the positioning of each subject to the geometric lines framing the background. In fact, Daniels' depiction as Jesus is suggested again when she later dons a metal nail around her neck (much like the nails used to nail Jesus to the cross for his crucifixion). Earlier images of her husband, Branson, also showed him draped in a blanket and looked incredibly Christ-like.
The biblical references don't stop there, either. They're heavily littered throughout both Covenant and its prequel, Prometheus. Some are a little more subtle, such as a glimpse of a Star of David hanging around a soldier's neck, or one of David's taxidermy alien specimens nailed to a cross just like Jesus.
Some are far more obvious, such as the crew members of faith in both films. In Covenant, Christian captain Oram makes several references to his religion, comparing his search for his stray crew members as "gathering his flock" and mentioning his past with the devil. Shaw and Logan's spirituality is what motivates their entire mission in Prometheus.
Delving even further, comparisons can easily be made between David and Lucifer, the fallen angel. And of course, Earth and the alien planet can be compared to heaven and hell — even David makes direct mention of this.
There's no doubt that Scott is intrigued by the Bible, despite disagreeing with its teachings. He seems endlessly fascinated with the idea of creationism and playing God, exploring these concepts in a terrifying setting. Ironically, by layering such a an abundance of religious concepts in his movies, he's also created what can be interpreted as a very extreme way to convey the teachings of the Bible.
Granted, the Bible itself is full of some pretty intense events (which basically makes both Prometheus and especially Covenant mini versions of the Reckoning). And it's unlikely that anyone is going to watch Prometheus and Covenant back-to-back and come out of it with a newfound reverence for Jesus. Nevertheless, both films do appear to be driven by an undeniable set of Christian morals.
God Is Most Definitely A Dude
According to Prometheus, there's no denying that God is a man. And what a man! Seriously, those Engineers look like they spend more time injecting steroids and doing bench presses in the gym than creating new species. Mankind's creators are the absolute epitome of masculinity, completely rejecting the notion of a feminine deity.
Science Doesn't Have The Answers
Ridley Scott praised the world of science in that same Collider interview, and yet the scientists of both Prometheus and Covenant are incredibly incompetent and even downright moronic.
The worlds of faith and science are often at odds with each other; something Covenant's Oram vocalizes to his wife. But in the Alien franchise, seeking answers through scientific method often results in tragedy.
The many blunders, miscalculations and fruitless search for deeper meaning from both films' apparently qualified team of scientists is shown to be a fruitless and futile endeavor. Time and time again, the viewer is reminded not only of the apparently unreliable nature of science, but the inherent dangers of relying on it as a source of wisdom.
Abortion Is Wrong
That caesarian scene from Prometheus was absolutely traumatizing — and that's probably how Pro-Lifers want you to view it. As soon as Shaw finds out she's carrying an alien fetus inside of her, she rushes to the only surgery in sight — only to discover it can't be accessed by women.
Honestly, the fact that the machine was only built for men should have taught her that this was not the right path. It's a man's world with men's machines, Shaw! This isn't your realm to be making decisions in! Now get back in the infirmary and start knitting mittens that will accommodate all those tentacles.
Nevertheless, a hysterical Shaw forces her way into the system, performing her own damn abortion and murdering her alien baby good and proper. Or at least that's what she thinks. Apparently, her aborted fetus is somehow still alive, and there are going to be some serious consequences for trying to get rid of it. Are you seeing the metaphor yet?
Sinners Will Be Punished
God might love all his children, but he certainly isn't afraid to punish them if they get out of hand in the most merciless way possible.
Considering Alien's tendency to kill off almost every single character, it's difficult to pinpoint the exact reasons why each individual character is deemed worthy of ruthless damnation. Perhaps Prometheus' Logan and Covenant's Ricks and Upworth were killed as punishment for sexual exploration — but then again, they were married, and not doing anything sinful in the eyes of God. Lope and Hallett may have been punished for being gay (a sin in the eyes of some devout Christians), but what's the excuse for their fellow heterosexual crew members who suffered equally horrific deaths?
Regardless of the reason, anyone who's ever been to Sunday School can tell you that most people are guilty of sin, and sinning leads to an eternity spent in hellfire. Prometheus' Logan and Covenant's Branson are both subjected to these cleansing flames. Earlier Alien films established that the aliens were somewhat protected from flames; a subtle reminder that these creatures truly are straight out of hell.
Salvation Can Only Be Found Through Faith— So Long As You Don't Ask Questions
Prometheus ends on a surprisingly optimistic note, with Shaw deciding to seek out the Engineers rather than return to Earth. Despite just performing a DIY abortion and seeing her husband get torched by Charlize Theron, she's in high spirits. Recording a journal entry, she refers to the date as "a year of our Lord." She's turned back to her faith, and almost seems saved by it — perhaps even born again.
Unfortunately, Covenant tells us that this pilgrimage only led to her death. But why? Shouldn't her faith have redeemed her?
Good Christians aren't supposed to question their creation, or God's will. Good Christians have faith. Buddhism tells its followers to constantly question and undermine everything they think they know. Christianity preaches absolute trust in God's will and reasoning. And for scientist Shaw, she was still allowing her scientific curiosity to overpower her faith.
What are your thoughts on the Alien prequels' religious connotations?