In news which should have elicited a huge “WTF??” director Ridley Scott recently said he wants to explain the origins of the alien ship from his classic 1979 Alien.
What I always thought when I was making the first one [was] why would a creature like this be made and why was it traveling in what I always thought was a kind of war-craft, which was carrying a cargo of these eggs. What was the purpose of the vehicle and what was the purpose of the eggs? That’s the thing to question – who, why, and for what purpose is the next idea, I think.
Earth to Scott: THAT’S WHAT PROMETHEUS AND COVENANT WERE SUPPOSED TO DO!!!
If anything, Scott put himself in a pickle with the latter film as it shows the android David as the creator of the deadly xenomorphs. Then again, it could be explained that David reverse-engineered much of the, well, Engineers’ genetic manipulations. What else could work?
The Engineer vessel in Alien is ridiculously old, not to mention the site explored by the Prometheus crew in the film by that name. While the latter appeared to dabble with creations similar to the xenomorphs we know and fear, the former outright featured the Alien eggs, facehuggers, and xenomorphs right there via an Engineer ship. It would take some tricky explanations to make people believe David alone is responsible for the creatures.
Let’s assume David did use an Engineer template for the Aliens. Let’s go back to Scott’s question above: Why was the vessel the crew of the Nostromo discovered carrying so many eggs? What sort of enemy did the Engineers have that they devised such an incredibly fearsome (biological) weapon?
When you think about it, the Engineers come off as sadists: As masters of genetics, instead of just introducing a plague to wipe out their adversaries, they utilize a monstrous creature whose gestation and birth involve a ridiculous amount of pain and agony. Perhaps it’s part of their religion; in Prometheus and Covenant we see many immense stone busts of Engineers and even one resembling an Alien queen (Prometheus).
Indeed, the Engineers even could have changed their ways rather substantially. Keep in mind the ages of their ships in Alien and Prometheus — two millennia old. When David and Dr. Shaw appear in the sky of the Engineers’ home planet in Covenant, many Engineers appear surprised (pleasantly or otherwise) at the sight of the vessel. Had they frowned upon space travel? Did they at one point atone for their misdeeds from the distant past (creation of the xenomorphs)?
It’s a story I sure as hell would like to see, but it’s unlikely we’ll get it anytime soon on film. Scott had his (two) chances and didn’t do much with ’em. If you want to read the still-best origin theory of the xenomorphs, pick up Mark Verheiden’s first Aliens series from Dark Horse Comics. It remains the standard by which all Aliens comics are judged.