Ridley Scott’s Alien franchise is an iconic installment in science fiction. Back when it first debuted in 1979, audiences were only beginning to understand the potential for the genre, especially with Star Wars coming into play just two years earlier. Scott’s film showed us a darker side to sci-fi in cinema that we’d never before seen, and since then it’s evolved into a full-blown cultural phenomenon. Very few people would have predicted that the relatively simple Alien would have developed a complex mythos, yet here we are today, teetering on the brink of the metaphorical rabbit hole.
When Scott’s Prometheus hit theaters in 2012, it dug deep into the origins of the Xenomorphs that terrorized Sigourney Weaver and company. What this began though was a big fat cloud of ambiguity that even now seems to have no end in sight. Scott himself came out and claimed Prometheus was in fact not a prequel to Alien, despite existing in the same universe and ending with the creation of what appeared to be the first Xenomorph. Things are only getting more confusing now, as the director continues to muddy the waters.
The week’s news concerning the planned Prometheus sequel has given fans little confidence in Scott’s vision for the franchise. Initially, he stated that his films won’t be digging into the Alien franchise until the “the one after this one or maybe even a fourth film.” Things only got more confusing when he announced the title for the next film would be Alien: Paradise Lost. So if we have everything straight: The sequel to Prometheus won’t be Alien-related, despite having it right there in the title, and we might have to wait until a fourth sequel to hear more about the origins of the Xenomorphs. Is your head spinning yet? Because it should be.
This ambiguity only serves to confuse audiences, rather than make them excited for future projects. It’s still unclear how or why Prometheus isn’t a prequel in and of itself, given that it: 1. takes place before Alien (putting the “pre” in “prequel”), and 2. shows us the creators of the Xenomorphs, and their subsequent birth. It’s all insanely confusing and leaves fans in the complete dark in terms of what to expect. It’s one thing to be stingy on details; it’s a time-honored tradition in Hollywood to keep audiences engaged. But to give people a conflicting message alienates them rather than getting them excited.
In an industry dominated by franchises, we can understand the need to expand the mythology of Scott’s Alien universe. But with that comes a responsibility to the story not only makes sense, but to reveal enough to make things interesting. People shouldn’t be expected to wait until Prometheus 4 to have their questions answered, especially given the fact that it’s been over 30 years since Alien. Keeping an audience emotionally invested is one thing. Dragging out a story unnecessarily is something else entirely.
Your guess as to what Alien: Paradise Lost will include is as good as ours. It’s getting more difficult by the day to understand what Ridley Scott has planned for his once-proud franchise. Perhaps not even he knows, and his ambiguity is masking his own uncertainty. Given the fact that Prometheus screenwriter Damon Lindelof has a history of creating plot conflicts sans an endgame, we wouldn’t be surprised to see a similarly limited vision from Scott for the future of Prometheus sequels. In the end, it all comes back to the man in charge. Scott is quickly running out of good will in the realm of sci-fi, and so far he’s not doing much to help his own case.
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