Cast your mind back to 2012. Ridley Scott's long-awaited (and, as it turned out, controversial) Alien prequel Prometheus attempted the tricky feat of taking the celebrated sci-fi horror franchise back to its roots whilst also asking deep and profound questions about our place in the universe.
Debate still rages as to whether the movie is a success, but there's no denying that it rejuvenated the art of the viral video. In fact, the pre-release marketing was vital in terms of establishing the themes and storyline.
With Alien: Covenant creeping into Cineworld on 12th May, we're taking this opportunity to look back at the canny Prometheus marketing campaign and how it's connected to the horrifying events of the Covenant storyline.
Peter Weyland's intro
It all begins here.
Guy Pearce's Weyland-Yutani bigwig only appeared fleetingly in Prometheus (and then disguised under a lot of dodgy, Benjamin Button-esque ageing makeup). However he made a strong impression prior to the release of the movie, laying out his grand, God-bothering ambitions by drawing lofty parallels with Greek mythology.
Lest we forget, as recounted by Weyland Prometheus stole fire from the Gods to give to mankind and was punished – an ominous harbinger of what is to happen to the characters in the movie when they come face to face with the Engineers, ancient beings whose ultimate quest was to destroy humanity, not preserve it.
Pearce's subtle and slippery performance, giving a TED 2023 talk whilst undercurrents of greed and darkness flicker across his face, makes one regret the fact he wasn't in the movie more.
It's here that the seeds of the wider Alien franchise are sown. After all, at the end of Prometheus both Shaw (Noomi Rapace) and android David (Michael Fassbender), their initial quest contorted into something far more horrifying, set off for the Engineers' homeworld to find out why they desired to destroy humanity. More on that momentarily...
There's no denying that Michael Fassbender's murkily motivated synthetic was the most compelling figure in Prometheus.
Using the crew of the Prometheus craft as test subjects (infecting them with black liquid, resulting in alien impregnation) whilst awaking an Engineer from a millennia-long slumber, David is another reflection of the movie's key theme: that of humanity playing God and creating something (in this case an android) that is ultimately destructive. In fact, David can be said to have something of a God complex himself.
However it wasn't intended to be this way. As his captivating viral intro shows, David is designed to follow humanity's every whim and be a loyal companion in all scenarios. But it seems like that elusive spark of emotion and autonomous impulse can't be suppressed... Fassbender's glacial performance is quite brilliant, suggesting a decidedly non-human presence grappling with feelings beyond his control.
As mentioned Shaw and David (the latter having been decapitated by an Engineer) were the only survivors of the doomed Prometheus mission. This recently released video, a prologue to the events of Alien: Covenant, reveals that whilst en-route to confront the Engineers Shaw grafted David's head onto a new body. He then watches over her as she slips into cryo-sleep.
Yet we can't help but feel that he's still motivated by another profoundly human emotion: revenge for what our ancient ancestors did to him, as well as that familiar kind of scientific curiosity. As the video ends we see David apparently preparing to drop a payload of the Engineers' biological weapons onto their native planet...
Is there some kind of rampant gene-splicing about to happen as a result of David's actions? Is David therefore responsible for the creation of the Xenomorph that rampaged through the timeline of Alien through to Alien: Resurrection and which, by logical definition, also spells terror for the doomed Covenant crew?
It would certainly be in-keeping with the earlier 'playing God' themes of Prometheus and would also extend slimy connective tissue from this movie through to the events of the first Alien. Plus, the subtle usage of Jerry Goldsmith's original Alien theme perhaps indicates that we're one stage closer to the events of that film than we first thought...
Synthetics are one of the most important aspects of the Alien universe. And in Covenant we get two Michael Fassbender androids for the price of one: not only is he returning as David but he also plays Covenant crew member Walter, whose emotional capabilities are intentionally more limited than those of the former. As the actor himself says: "The technology within Walter will be more advanced, but his ability to have an emotional response to a painting or a relationship is not the same."
Given that by the time we get to Alien, the droids are fond of the old cloak and dagger subterfuge (the crew of the Nostromo don't even realise Ian Holm's scheming Ash is a robot until it's too late), it appears that Walter is a key technological step on the way to emotionless artificial intelligence, the sort that blends into the background for possibly nefarious ends.
What connections between Prometheus and Alien: Covenant have you spotted? Let us know @Cineworld.