comScore Jon Bershard Rewrites Prometheus | The Mary Sue

Headcanon: An Imaginary Rewrite to Make Prometheus Better


Jon Bershard, a writer at our sister site Mediaite, recently saw Prometheus and decided that he had a few thoughts on how to fix Ridley Scott’s Alien prequel. We present his work to you, Gentle Reader, as part of our ongoing Headcanon series. Think of it as the outline to a fanfic.

Since I spent much of my childhood using Alien toys to create my own sequels in my head (starring Star Wars action figures as the inevitably doomed crew), I couldn’t help but keep thinking about how this alternate reality version of the movie would go. I’ve written down some of my SPOILER-filled thoughts below.

Arguably, the most compelling character in the movie is David, played by Michael Fassbender. However, his motivations are nearly inscrutable. For most of the movie, he seems to be letting on way more than he says, and we expect to learn his agenda. But we never really understand in a satisfying way why, for example, he infects Charlie with the DNA-altering oil stuff.

I propose that we make David clearly the film’s antagonist, and we do this by excising the living Engineer from the film’s third act. Not only did that guy look a little silly, he just served to muddle things.

So, what does this change? Well, I think that one of the most interesting parts of the movie is the reveal that the Engineers (basically our God) had “changed their mind” about humanity and decided that we needed to be destroyed. I want to keep this and make this David’s main motivation.

I propose that David hasn’t yet figured out how to fully translate the Engineer’s language. So, he brings the vase back to the ship (not in secret, but just as part of the mission) as well as some recording from the aliens and sets about translating it back onboard the Prometheus.

Later, we see the moment where he finally cracks the language and realizes what the vase does. After some quick deliberation (he is a robot after all), takes the oil and infects Charlie as before. The only difference being that David’s pointed question to Charlie before the infection is less about fulfilling the mission at all costs and more about following the will of the Engineers at all costs.

The idea is that David learns that the Engineers had been trying to wipe out humanity and, after going over their findings, he decides they were right and that he must fulfill their mission. David becomes the main villain, instigating all the gross mutation and monster stuff, but he also remains slightly ambiguous as in the theatrical cut. He still likes the crew and wishes for their safety (as shown in the fantastic sandstorm scene from the movie that will be kept). He just discovered what it is the Engineers discovered and made a pragmatic decision.

With these changes, the movie becomes focused on a more specific theme than just disappointment with your creator. Instead it poses the question: “If you actually got to meet your Creator, would you follow them blindly?”

Imagine a confrontation scene between David and Shaw (presumably as he, like the Engineer in the film, attempts to fly back to Earth and end humanity).

David: Elizabeth, you wear that necklace. You’ve spent your whole life doing what you only thought your God wanted. Now, here are your creators and their desire is plain; they wanted you to die. Who are you to question God now?

We can keep the exact reasoning behind the Engineer’s decision unanswered. I think that was one of the best choices the movie made. Imagine more dialogue between Shaw and David.

Shaw: But why? Why did they change their minds?!

David: I read their research. It was…persuasive.

With this, we can keep everything (in my opinion) that worked about the movie, but build it atop a sturdier framework. Instead of having tons of semi-villains running around, we have one main, well-developed one.

Beyond David, I liked the reveal that Weyland was onboard the ship in theory much more than I did in execution. Most of it seemed rather silly. In my version, I’d make it so Weyland is never woken up because there are no living Engineers for him to meet. Instead, he’s just a creepy old man in a box. We can learn that Weyland ordered David to do whatever the Engineers asked so as to help them save his life. So, despite the fact that Weyland is basically David’s God, he has to listen to his God’s God and murder Weyland in his sleep. If we want to be really creepy, Weyland can be mutated in hypersleep, similar to how Newt and Hicks are impregnated between Aliens and Alien 3.

Speaking of callbacks, I think I have a better way to connect the movie to the rest of the series. Instead of the frustrating chestburst epilogue, the epilogue features Charlize Theron’s Vickers (who, in my version, knows how to not run in a straight fucking line and therefore survives). The movie toys with the idea that Vickers is a robot. Instead, it reveals that she’s Weyland’s daughter, thus continuing the creator/disappointment theme. What if she actually was a robot but didn’t know it (Ridley Scott did say that he wanted to put Blade Runner ideas in the Alien universe)?

Here’s how my version runs: David still gets decapitated (just not by an Engineer) and appears dead. Vickers picks up his head and, suddenly, some kind of wire or other connection device juts out of the head and inserts into her body (into her mouth, eyes, or somewhere else equally disturbing) revealing that she too is a robot. David begins uploading something to her against her will.

He speaks, saying “I’m sorry Weyland never told you the truth. I’m sorry I have to do this. But you need to go home. You need to take control of the company. You need to do what needs to be done.”

Basically, David implants in her the mission to kill humanity. This continues the theme of forced pregnancy from the rest of the series — although instead of a living being forced in someone’s body, it’s a robot forcing in an idea. My version implies that Vickers is going to return to Earth and use the Weyland Corporation to look for another Engineer bioweapon. This sets up Alien and makes it so the Company’s mission wasn’t just out for profits, it was to wipe out mankind.

So, that could be fun.

(You can read all of Bershard’s re-imagining of Prometheus here, as well as his initial reactions to the film here.)

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