Does anyone really know what the heck is going on over in the Alien: Covenant camp right now? Should we be concerned about Ridley Scott? Or is this all a symptom of mass miscommunication in the digital era?
Not sure what we're talking about? Now you know how we feel whenever a new story hits regarding sci-fi legend Ridley Scott's upcoming [Alien: Covenant](tag:3648559). The Prometheus sequel which was first titled Alien: Paradise Lost.
The confusing titling isn't the only thing which has been changed up over the course of Alien: Covenant's development — there have been numerous conflicting reports regarding the content of the movie itself, a worrying thing to hear so far along the production process.
And it's not just internet tabloid junkery making up and circulating rumors oh no, this conflicting information comes from the mouths of those directly involved in the process, most notably Prometheus star Noomi Rapace and Scott himself.
What's Elizabeth Shaw Up To?
Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Noomi Rapace) was ostensibly the lead character of Prometheus, and the only human who survived the doomed expedition upon LV-223 alongside the former-android and now just an android-head David (Michael Fassbender). So you'd expect to see her returning for the follow-up.
Indeed Rapace herself seemed to think so, as she spoke to MTV UK regarding her role in the then-known as Prometheus 2 last year, and seemed to have a vague idea of where her character would go from here:
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.
Sounds good, right? And makes sense given her character's religious leanings in Prometheus and her previously established search for truth about humanities creators.
But then we learned from Scott (via Yahoo! News) that Rapace would not in fact be returning to reprise her role as Shaw, and we all went "Huh?" Especially since the first set photo from Alien: Covenant seemed to suggest that religious elements will still be a big part of the sequel.
BUT WAIT. A new report from Deadline states that Rapace is in fact back on board for Covenant, as "sources" report that she's on-set to film "weeks worth of scenes". My mother told me to never trust sources, but Deadline does have a habit of hitting the nail on the head with these ones.
So Rapace was in, then out, then in again. What is this, the hokey cokey?
A similar thing happened with the xenomorphs — the franchise's instantly iconic monsters made from lube and condoms.
We saw the Deacon — the weird xenomorph who chest-bursted its way out of the Last Engineer at the conclusion of Prometheus — in the first movie, but no sign of any Alien looking xenomorphs as we'd been expecting.
When Scott claimed that Alien: Paradise Lost / Alien: Covenant / Prometheus 2: Electric Boogaloo was going to tie more closely into Alien, we expected it would be (xeno)morphin' time again, but he said no dice:
The beast is done. Cooked. I got lucky meeting Giger all those years ago... But after four [movies], I think it wears out a little bit. There’s only so much snarling you can do. I think you’ve got to come back with something more interesting. And I think we’ve found the next step. I thought the Engineers were quite a good start.
So, no more xenomorphs? It's a sad day for all.
But then — Shia surprise! — Scott backtracked on those comments again when talking to The Wrap magazine the following year, saying that the famous monsters would make an appearance in Alien: Covenant. Not just one, but as many as they could fit in.
['Covenant' will] reintroduce the alien back into it. There was always this discussion: Is Alien, the character, the beast, played out or not? We’ll have them all: egg, face-hugger, chest-burster, then the big boy. I think maybe we can go another round or two.
Uft, Scott must have whiplash by this point with the amount of 180 turns he's been doing on the subject.
Should We Be Worried?
So what does it all mean? It could of course be nothing but over-exuberant news reporting doing its thing, with every side comment being spun into a story and spread like the proverbial wildfire.
But it could also mean that there's been a turbulent road to production for Alien: Covenant in the wake of the middlingly received Prometheus. The xenomorph issue in particular feels like it could've been studio intervention on the part of 20th Century Fox coming off the back of fan grumblings about the xenomorph-lite Prometheus.
Studio intervention isn't always a bad thing, sometimes it's necessary to keep things on-track and in-line. And whilst Scott has always been somewhat of a visionary, some of his recent efforts have failed to impress — Exodus: Gods and Kings and The Counselor for example.
At the end of the day though, this is the man who brought us Alien, Blade Runner and — more recently — The Martian, so one would assume he knows what he's doing. And if all else fails, at the very least we've still got Alien 5 to look forward to (according to Ridley Scott anyway...).