1979's Alien saw the imagination of Dan O'Bannon forge a meeting between the nightmarish world of H.R. Giger and the post industrialist creations of Ron Cobb, all captured through the eye of a young Ridley Scott. The result is arguably both the definitive science fiction horror movie and one of the best movies using an unseen antagonist – no small feat considering Hollywoods overreliance on the trope. Alien gave us one of the best designed alien creautres in modern fiction, amidst a barrage of mysteries and questions, many of which were left unanswered for decades.
The desire from fans to see more of the perfect organism created one of Hollywoods premiere franchises, that much like te creature itself became diluted and distilled with each addition (as is typically the nature of movie franchises), including adaptations across multiple media forms including novels, comic books, video games and even toys. By the release of 2007's Alien vs Predator Requiem Hollywoods most visceral and disturbing creation had become so mainstream it was available, and still is, as a plush soft toy for children.
Throughout the Aliens descent into obscurity Ridley Scott, director of the 1979 original had often mused about returning to the franchise to explore the mysteries of the alien pilot discovered in the first movie. Using ideas from the 1979 original that had never been filmed, and through various rewrites with screenwriters Jon Spaihts and Damon Lindelof director Scott created 2012's Prometheus. Marketed as a prequel to 1979's Alien, the movies ambigiuity and ambitious plot divided audiences and critical opinion. While arguably a visual masterpiece Prometheus' narrative, theme and place within the franchise was confused and confusing to many moviegoers, including fans.
Prometheus is an indirect prequel to Alien, in much the same way as The Phantom Menace is a prequel to A New Hope. It is not meant to finish where Alien begins, but rather forge the way for future instalments, one of which will eventually fulfill the role of a direct prequel. However, Prometheus did begin its development as a direct prequel, as evidenced by Jon Spaihts' script titled Alien Origins. Origins script featured the crew of the USCSS Magellan landing on LV-426 and discovering protoforms of the Alien creature. Spaihts script ended with an Engineer ship leaving the planet, only to some crashing back down as the Engineer pilot fell victim to very weapon he was carrying; the Alien.
In a misguided attempt to focus more upon the new race known as the Engineers, Lost screenwriter Damon Lindelof was contracted to help embelish the narrative of Spaihts script, allowing for multiple prequels to be produced. But it seems after the hit and miss critical and fan reception Prometheus garnered, that director Scott may be defaulting back to core themes evident within Spaihts original script with mention that the sequel, once called Paradise and now called Alien Covenant will feature familiar Alien creatures within a more traditional Alien movie rather than the ambitious visceral tour-de-force journey to paradise fans were originally promised
Considering Prometheus' reception and box office performance it is unsurprising that its sequel will revert back to the formula used in the 1979 original. Though producers Brandywine Productions and studio 20th Century Fox will be hoping that with Scott helming the movie it will recreate some of the tension and suspense that made Alien such a classic. Its just a shame that fans may never see Shaw and David's pilgrimage to the nighmarish homeworld of the Engineers and the undoubtedly disturbing truths to Shaws philosophical and religious questions.