I’m staying up late on a night I have a head cold to do the initial write for this which should tell you about all you need to know for how much this one’s going to get edited.
I recently saw the film Prometheus the supposed prequel to the Alien franchise. The idea is that the film is supposed to explain the circumstances surrounding the ship the titular Prometheus that first landed on the alien planet and discovered the Xenomorph lifeform we`ve come to know as Ridley Scott`s Aliens.
So for the rest of this article I`ll refer to the aliens of Alien as Xenomorphs to make our lives all easier. Trust me, this is a necessity.
After watching the film I can honestly say that this was one of those movies that needed polish. This isn`t like Tron: Uprising or Sucker Punch where I can openly point out where the story needed revision and suggest my own edits.
The reason for that is, for me, the origin of the Xenomorph is largely something that I believed would always remain a mystery. But then for me much of the Alien franchise is a blur on the fine points. I know in the first film the ship with Ripley on it went to the same planet as the one in this film because of the distress call left behind by the Prometheus. But when the android in Alien openly spoke about the Xenomorph he revealed advanced knowledge of it and its nature. This implies that Wayland Corporation sent some sort of initial team ( at the time we assume the Prometheus) who were killed and used as baby Xenomorph sleeping bags. But if you follow the film Prometheus no one had any knowledge the Xenomorph`s existence even after the film`s end as that is when it comes into being for the first time.
That bar of inconsistency isn`t the only moment like that in the film. There are these sensible moments mixed in with moments where people are openly being foolish despite being a research team. And the film does not regard these things as foolish at the time. Plus a lot of motivations are left muddy.
The problem is, I don`t know where to fix it.
The film deals with the very popular concept of “Chariots of Fire”. The theory states that humanity’s gods and progenitors were nothing more than advanced alien life forms who cultivated and, as some think, originated human life.
Now a clever writer can make good arguments for this. For example, there is a known phenomenon called synchronicity theory wherein events, despite occurring in remote locations act in exactly the same way to the same things without outside stimulus. The best known case is an instance of monkeys (I think) in captivity in Yukishima, an island off the coast of Japan, who were given sweet potatoes covered in sand and mud. The monkeys had no way of eating these dirty potatoes it until one female realized how to wash the potato in the river. In no time at all, all of the monkeys were doing the same. Now you might think this was a typical isolated incident.
Monkeys across the entire continent were soon replicating this method within days of the event. Apparently this isn’t an isolated phenomenon either. Biologists have come to see this effect happen in other species, including humans. There is a similar theory that states that human beings will invent new technology once they are ready to do so. This is aided by the story that when Albert Einstein first deduced some of his core theorems, several other men on the planet were doing so at the same time. It’s often attributed to how first world nations easily adopt new technology despite previously having no reference. There are, of course more arguments against this theory.
But, if we’re writing sci-fi we can fudge this kind of stuff. Say that the human race’s growth and uniform design is part of an intelligent design. Only state that all creatures on Earth are capable of a bipedal tool using, high intellect evolutionary form; we were just the ones who found it. As a result, encoded within us are the seeds of higher technology which we are yet to uncover. Hence why, once we gain technology, we skyrocket in growth within a small fraction of time (relative to evolution).
Like I said. Not hard.
In Prometheus a single humanoid alien life form (referred to as an Engineer) dies on Earth (on purpose) allowing organic life to replicate within the planet’s environment as his fellow aliens leave. Humans emerge accordingly and find evidence of past civilizations referencing a distant set of star coordinates with the image of an Engineer.
I don’t know how that works either.
So they follow the stars but find on the planet a downed Engineer craft loaded with cylinders containing a strange black organic matter that radically changes whatever it comes into contact with. It isn’t a symbiote from Spider Man. Yeah I made that joke too. The Xenomorph is created when one of the crew is infected with this matter and sleeps with his wife and fellow scientist played by Noomi Rapace (of Girl With a Dragon Tattoo fame. Original Swedish version.) She is impregnated but has the creature immediately extracted from her body and purged. It does not die.
Eventually a survivor Engineer is found and begins assaulting the humans without explanation or reason beyond the theory that the black matter is intended to purge earth of human life based on observations on the Engineer ship’s original trajectory. The creature born from the woman grabs the Engineer in a manner identical to that of the facehugger that breeds the xenomorph. By this point only the woman has survived and uses another alien ship on the planet to escape and travel to the Engineer homeworld to demand answers for the potential purging of humanity. As she leaves she sends out a warning message about the planet saying that only death is there. In the wake of her absence the first xenomorph emerges from the Engineer’s body, though we can presume it’s a queen.
Prior to this, any living organism the black organic matter interacted with created a large, pale version of that original organism similar to the facehugger with the acid blood and the desire to penetrate organic human hosts. Once with an earthworm that was only seen again in passing and again with the aforementioned human scientist that was infected though he was set on fire, killed, and killed again before any sort of penetration could happen or even begin to be initiated.
Damn it. I just said that didn’t I?
So where does that leave us?
I dunno. I always felt that the organic reproduction of the Xenomorph was too systematic to allow for such random origins. Considering how many fictional alien adversities are derived from them (Tyranids, Zerg, Slivers, Flood, Headcrabs, Borg probably) there’s always been an implication that whatever the Xenomorphs were originally, it took countless years for them to become what we know them to be as they outgrew their creator’s original designs.
We know that Xenomorphs, in part, are built upon the hosts they inhabit so the variety of mutations across the universe for every life form that’s encountered this species must be numerous. But still the same exoskeleton would be present.
I don’t know; it just seems like an accident isn’t fitting enough. Were Xenomorphs supposed to come out this way? Has this happened before? We assume so if the Predator canon is to be taken into account. Hell following Predator 2 the traditional Xenomorph existed in its current incarnation since 1990 despite Prometheus taking place in 2093. And let’s not even look at Alien vs. Predator.
I dunno. I guess the inconsistences don’t aggravate me as much as they just befuddle me. It isn’t just a problem with the origin of the Xenomorphs itself. There are a lot of logical errors in the film that the cast make. I love Michael Fassbender as an android but why does his character infect the male scientist with the black matter? Does he feel sympathy for the stuff? Curiosity? Scorn for humans? It isn’t clear. Is he engineering his creator’s demise? If so why doesn’t he just arrange a much more coordinated series of circumstances? Obviously those that didn’t endanger humans (to bypass any internal morality laws) but doesn’t infecting a human endanger them?
See what I mean? A lack of polish. I think sometimes going into the origin of something that isn’t clearly defined to begin with leads to problems.
I think I’m due to talk about origin stories soon. I’m working on some theories that might shed some light as to the ones that fail and the ones that succeed.
So too does this work exist.