Prometheus questions we want answered in Alien: Covenant

When Ridley Scott returned to the Alien universe by directing Prometheus, many fans assumed they'd finally figure out where the xenomorphs came from. However, even as the newer movie provided some oblique answers, it left many questions—about the xenomorphs as well as their mysterious creators, the Engineers. Now, Scott is returning with Alien: Covenant, a movie that simultaneously serves as a follow-up to Prometheus as well as a movie that's seemingly much more concerned with everyone's favorite xenomorph. Fans' hopes are now higher than ever that the new movie will solve long-standing riddles about Scott's strange shared universe. Here are a few of the questions we want answered in Alien: Covenant.

What's up with the Engineer from the beginning?

Prometheus was filled with beautiful imagery and puzzling moments. One scene that mixes both beauty and confusion occurs near the very beginning when we see an alien creature (later confirmed to be one of the mysterious Engineers) drink some of the weird black ooze important to the later narrative. In a spectacularly weird sequence, his body begins disintegrating into the air before he falls into a waterfall and leads us into the movie's title sequence, which shows the formation of DNA.


It all looks cool, but this specific Engineer and the significance of what he did is never really touched on in the movie, leaving a tempting strand for Alien: Covenant to pick up. For instance, some theorize that the planet the Engineer was on was Earth, and considering it looked relatively lifeless at the time, he may have been sacrificing himself in order to create life on the planet. Then again, he looks pretty shocked at what the black goo does to his body, so it may not have been a willing sacrifice, and even the lack of specific geographic features makes it difficult to pinpoint if this was even on Earth. At any rate, Alien: Covenant will hopefully explore more of the links between the Engineers and humanity, including why this Engineer is relatively chill and the one we see later in the movie immediately decapitates David.


What's up with that black goo?

Arguably the biggest question Prometheus fans had when they emerged from the theater is what was up with the mysterious alien goo. To nerds of a certain age, the idea of weird alien goo causing mutations is pretty straightforward: this is how you get everything from Daredevil to Ninja Turtles. However, nothing about the black ooze in the movie is straightforward, as it causes a wide variety of different effects on different people. Sometimes it disintegrates entire bodies, sometimes it mutates people, sometimes it creates alien zombies, and so on. Even by the standards of a weird sci-fi horror movie, this ooze is bizarre and borderline incomprehensible.


There are a number of straightforward ways that Alien: Covenant could answer these questions. For instance, as some of the crew theorize, the goo may be a biological weapon the Engineers were developing—a weapon intended to create scary beasts like the familiar xenomorph. Or the different effects may have something to do with variations in human DNA, which humanity may share with the Engineers. Either way, an explanation is in order.


What's David's actual motive?

The shared Aliens and Prometheus universe has had a pretty shady history with cybernetic lifeforms. In the first Alien movie, one of the major revelations of the story is that crewmember Ash is not only secretly an android, but operating under secret orders to kill anyone who tries to stop him from bringing a xenomorph home. In the follow-up movie Aliens, however, the android known as Bishop saves Ripley and others on numerous occasions, and is pivotal in the fight with the Alien queen at the end.


Because of all that, Prometheus viewers weren't quite sure what to make of the android David. On one hand, David is instrumental in saving the lives of the crew and discovering more about the Engineers, including establishing the first direct dialogue with them. On the other hand, there's a weird scene when he not only secretly brings some black ooze back to the ship, but chooses to poison Holloway's drink with it. Why? The movie leaves it deliberately unclear if this was an act of sociopathic scientific curiosity, secret orders from Weyland, or something else entirely. Given that Michael Fassbender's David is returning (in multiple roles, even) in Alien: Covenant, it seems likely that we'll learn more about David's true motivations.


What beef do the Engineers have with Earth?

Much of the narrative momentum in Prometheus is carried by the quest to find a living Engineer. For Weyland and others, this is tantamount to the search for God himself, which is what makes it both heartbreaking and terrifying when the Engineer at the end is hellbent on killing humanity. Not just the humans that woke him from his epic nap, but all of Earth, as David susses out that he means to release the deadly and mysterious black liquid in order to kill the planet. This leaves a simple question: what's his problem?


It seems like the Engineers were once friendly with humanity. According to many theories, the one at the beginning of the movie created life itself, and the existence of cave paintings that lead the crew on their space quest make it seem like these aliens once had a relationship with humans that went beyond "kill them on sight." What caused this relationship to break down is something Alien: Covenant will hopefully explore. It'll be doubly interesting to see if Ridley Scott returns to the idea that the Engineers sent Jesus as an emissary to restore peace to an out-of-control race—and that they're still angry that humanity decided to crucify their representative.


Where does the Space Jockey come from?

One of the original mysteries of the Alien universe is who the "Space Jockey" was and how he got to the planet. In the first Alien movie, as the crew explores planet LV426, they encounter the body of what we later know to be an Engineer. His body is effectively fossilized into his weird spaceship chair and his suit has been damaged by some kind of outward explosion, likely hinting that he was infected by a facehugger and then killed by a chestburster. Having seen Prometheus, though, we're left with more questions than answers.


For instance, we know more about who and what this Space Jockey's race is, but not how he got where he ended up—the planet in Prometheus (LV233) is different from the planet in Alien (LV426). Furthermore, there are less than 30 years between the events of Prometheus and the events of Alien. So who's this Engineer? Why was he the only one on the ship, and how long has he been dead if his body is fossilized? With Alien: Covenant presumably focusing more on the familiar xenomorphs, this sequel represents a good opportunity to provide puzzled viewers with answers.


Why bother luring humans to the planet?

As a kind of follow-up question to what the Engineers' beef with humanity is, Prometheus viewers were left wondering why they bothered to give humans coordinates and messages via cave paintings. Weyland and other hopeful humans believe this is an invitation—leaving galactic coordinates seems like a pretty logical way of getting visitors to your front door. However, the Engineer at the end wants to kill humanity, and it seems like luring a handful of them to his planet is a pretty inefficient way of doing this. As he demonstrates in the climax, his advanced technology could destroy the Earth anytime he chooses.


Of course, leaving the coordinates may have actually been a friendly warning to humanity. Basically, a way of saying "stay away from our experimental weapons planet." But that brings us back to the question of why humans would be warned away in order to save their lives only to have the entire planet threatened by the end of Prometheus. Is this Engineer a rogue? Or did the whole race change their mind about humanity?


How do we get the familiar Aliens?

Folks walking into Prometheus and expecting a straight-up Alien prequel were likely very disappointed. The movie dealt with an entirely new planet and entirely different aliens. In fact, besides the explanation of who the Space Jockey is and the presence of Weyland, most of the movie barely felt like it was in the Alien universe, with the notable exception of the surprise xenomorph at the end. Through a series of unpredictable events, a large, proto-facehugger infects an engineer, and something almost, but not quite, like the familiar Alien pops out of him. He already had his legs and arms formed, he didn't have the second set of jaws, and so on.


That leaves us with a rather big question…how does this universe end up with the familiar xenomorphs? Because of the small gap between this movie and the beginning of Alien, it seems highly unlikely that simple evolution produces the familiar xenomorph. It's possible that other Engineers poke and prod this creation later in order to bio-engineer something even deadlier. Or, with the Alien world being what it is, it's possible that yet another group of blundering humans manages to have weird adventures on this planet that end up changing the creature.


Why would Engineers stay on the planet?

One of the creepier elements of Prometheus is when the humans manage to trigger something akin to a holographic flashback that shows a group of Engineers running away from an unseen threat. While what made the Engineers run is left deliberately unclear, it seems to be connected to the fact that there aren't many of them on the planet anymore. It's possible they were wiped out by some of the biological weapons they were developing, or simply got the hell out of Dodge before they could be killed by some of their creations. Either way, we're left with a pretty simple question: why is the Engineer still on the planet at the end of the movie?


The lone Engineer in stasis clearly has no love for humans, killing almost everyone who woke him and making a bid to destroy all of humanity. But what was his "Plan A?" If the crew hadn't woken him up, would he have slept indefinitely, or was he waiting for a particular time? Was he supposed to oversee this weapons manufacturing planet? If so, staying in stasis and not noticing trespassers until they yank him out of bed seems like poor planning. Considering Shaw and David's plan to discover more about the Engineers as they leave the planet, it seems a good bet we'll find out more about what this particular Engineer was trying to do when Alien: Covenant rolls around.


How do the Aliens get to LV426?

One simple question Prometheus leaves us with is how the Alien xenomorphs get from Point A to Point B. As mentioned earlier, the Prometheus planet (dubbed LV233) is very different and far away from the familiar planet of the xenomorphs (LV426). If the bit at the end of Prometheus really was teasing the development of the xenomorph species, then we're left with several questions. How are they transported? Alternatively, is this the only planet where the Engineers have conducted weird experiments?


It's entirely possible that the dead Engineer in the first Alien film was conducting some black ooze experiments and helped create the alien lifeforms that killed him. Alternately, they could be tied to the actions of the Engineer who destroys his body to create life at the beginning of Prometheus. While the movie seems to imply one Engineer did that to create humanity, it's possible others have done so to create much scarier forms of life. With Alien: Covenant featuring more spacefaring humans and two Prometheus survivors hellbent on figuring out what the Engineers' deal is, we'll hopefully get some more connective tissue between movies that explains all this.


Are the aliens actually created by accident?

The events toward the end of Prometheus would seem to suggest that the creation of the xenomorphs is some kind of freak accident. For that Alien-like creature to be born, Elizabeth Shaw had to be impregnated by the bizarre alien bacteria on Charlie Holloway and give herself a laser C-section, after which the squid-like monster grows into a not-quite-facehugger which then attacks and impregnates the planet's last Engineer, whose body gives birth to the proto-xenomorph. No one could predict this utterly insane chain of events…except, perhaps, the Engineers.



In the same room where David and the crew find the black ooze that causes them so much trouble, there are murals on the wall that, like the Engineer body they partially retrieve, are over 2000 years old. These murals depict the familiar xenomorph at their center. Like so much else in the movie, the meaning of this is left ambiguous, but it doesn't seem to be a stretch to think the Engineers tried to create the xenomorphs, possibly as a bioweapon (echoing the intent of Weyland-Yutani millennia later and emphasizing that, in the worst possible way, the Engineers aren't really different from the humans they despise). If that's the case, then it's likely we'll see more Engineers and the creation of their ultimate weapon in Alien: Covenant.