One of the big themes in Prometheus was undoubtably religion. From the Engineers being aligned with Gods to the Catholicism of main character Elizabeth Shaw, the film charted her seeking the creators of humanity and the search for paradise.
Shaw's strong Christian beliefs are alluded to throughout the first film, and they are what drives her exploration of humanities origins. Indeed the search that she has been on is a search for God; whilst it may not be a representation of God in the traditional sense the Engineers are the creators (and possible destroyers) of humanity.
When Prometheus 2 - first named Alien: Paradise Lost, then changed to the (now final) Alien: Covenant - was first announced it seemed like it was going to pick up the stories of Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and the android David (Michael Fassbender) after the conclusion of Prometheus.
The sole survivors of the mission, Shaw and David escaped the planet in one of the Engineer's ships, heading off into the unknown with the intent to continue Shaw's search for truth by seeking out the Engineer's home planet. And Rapace previously elaborated on the possibility of Shaw going on to discover God and the Devil on her journey:
"I know that Elizabeth Shaw wants to go to paradise. I say that in the first one. I don’t wanna go back. She can’t go to Earth. There’s nothing left for her there really. She wants to go where they come from, those giants, those creatures. In her head that’s the dark paradise. What’s there? God, maybe? God or [the] Devil. I don’t know. I don’t know where [Ridley Scott’s] gonna take us but I can’t wait to go there."
But sadly for Shaw - and the rest of us - director Ridley Scott recently revealed that Rapace wouldn't be returning to reprise her role in Alien: Covenant, and they were "still casting the main roles".
This seemed more than a little odd as Rapace filled the main role in the first film, but made senses when you consider the change in name from Alien: Paradise to [Alien: Covenant](tag:3648559).
The Paradise title worked when used in relation to Shaw's journey. She wanted to know why the Engineers planned to destroy the human race after creating it in the first place and Scott had initially confirmed that it would be the story of Shaw's search for "paradise" that we'd see in the Prometheus sequel, stating:
"If it is paradise, paradise cannot be what you think it is. Paradise has a connotation of being extremely sinister and ominous."
Ah, so that's where the Alien: Paradise title came from. But now both the title and the central character who held together the religious themes have been jettisoned, so what does this mean for the sequel?
A New Direction
Well Alien: Convenant is set to introduce a whole new crew, featuring up and comer Katherine Waterston (who previously worked with Fassbender on Steven Jobs) and oddly enough comedy actor/writer/producer Danny McBride (known for Eastbound & Down and Pineapple Express).
The official synopsis sheds some light on their journey, and why we won't be seeing Shaw appearing:
"Bound for a remote planet on the far side of the galaxy, the crew of the colony ship Covenant discovers what they think is an uncharted paradise, but is actually a dark, dangerous world -- whose sole inhabitant is the "synthetic" David (Michael Fassbender), survivor of the doomed Prometheus expedition."
From the sounds of it the new crew will discover the "paradise" Shaw was searching for, but she won't be there to greet them. Does this mean she's died in her search for the truth? And will the overarching religious elements have been sidelined along with the disappearance of her character, or will someone else pick up her mantle?
We'll have to wait until Alien: Covenant releases October 6, 2017 to find out for sure.