'Alien: Covenant' Was Originally a Completely Different Movie

Monday, 22 May 2017 - 2:21PM
Alien
Alien: Covenant
Prometheus 2
Monday, 22 May 2017 - 2:21PM
'Alien: Covenant' Was Originally a Completely Different Movie
Image credit: 20th Century Fox
By this point, we're probably all willing to admit that the Alien franchise has lost its way. It's been a long time since James Cameron's epic xenomorph war film, and even longer since Ridley Scott delivered a truly satisfying science fiction horror movie. With more disappointments than triumphs in the franchise's history, even the most eager of diehard fans has to admit that things just haven't clicked with any of the more recent movies.

In space, everyone can hear you yawn.

As Alien: Covenant continues to be met with a mixed response from critics and fans alike, it's worth seeking an explanation as to why nobody—not even the series' original creator—seems to be able to deliver a meaningful horror experience. To this end, an article on Collider has detailed just how loosely Covenant was planned, and how, over time, it warped from a direct follow-up to Prometheus into more of an Alien tribute movie in order to meet with fan demand for less shiny white Engineer nonsense and more classic black H.R. Giger phallic monster scares.

According to the article, back when Ridley Scott was laying out plans for what was then known as Prometheus 2, he was adamant that the next movie needed to focus on Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (played by Noomi Rapace), with the disembodied head of Michael Fassbender's David along for the ride:

Opening quote

"I know where it's going. I know that to keep [David] alive is essential and to keep [Elizabeth] alive is essential and to go where they came from, not where I came from, is essential...
"I'd love to explore where the hell [Dr. Shaw] goes next and what does she do when she gets there, because if it is paradise, paradise can not be what you think it is. Paradise has a connotation of being extremely sinister and ominous."
Closing quote


There's definitely a seed here for what became Covenant, but the plot for the final movie, while still revolving around paradise and David, has entirely lost its main character in favor of a Ripley clone played by Katherine Waterson. The supposedly crucial scenes with Dr. Shaw, however, have seen the light of day in the form of a prologue to the movie that was released onto YouTube:



This certainly is a weirdly crucial scene to have been released online, rather than making it into the final cut of the film. It's not the only one, eitherthere's also the Last Supper prologue clip that humanizes the crew of the Covenant, as well as the VR experience that shows the xenomorph's birth in all its disgusting first-person glory.

So what's with all these additional clips? And why did Covenant change so drastically from its original designs?

This is perhaps the biggest problem that faces the Alien franchise at the moment: Ridley Scott really doesn't want to make an Alien movie at all. He's very fond of the brand appeal that the name provides, but everything from Prometheus onwards has been a struggle between his own desire to build a sprawling, weirdly religious science fiction universe while contorting his new ideas to take advantage of the xenomorph fun that audiences are actually calling out for. Heck, even Scott himself has pointed out that Prometheus simply isn't what Alien fans want out of the franchise!

This is a real shame, since while Scott's new ideas aren't exactly fantastic, they could at the very least benefit from some breathing room—as could the Alien franchise. By trying to merge two unrelated stories together, Scott's had to cut down the true Prometheus "sequel" into a promotional YouTube video, while a perfectly good Alien movie has been clogged with a lot of worldbuilding and action set-pieces that don't necessarily belong there.

So if there's anything wrong with the Alien franchise right now, it's that the movies we're getting aren't necessarily Alien films to begin with. They're Prometheus films wearing scary masks to try and fool audiences into buying more tickets.

Alien: Covenant is in theaters now.
Science Fiction
Sci-Fi Movies
Alien
Alien: Covenant
Prometheus 2
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