We now have some clarity on what was originally supposed to happen to Noomi Rapace’s character in the Prometheus sequel Alien: Covenant. Indeed, when Ridley Scott returned to the sci-fi genre to make the Alien prequel Prometheus, Rapace was the new face of the franchise, filling the shoes of Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley in a way. Prometheus ended with Rapace’s Shaw and the disembodied head of Michael Fassbender’s David heading off to find the home planet of the Engineers, but Scott’s version of what happened next changed wildly throughout development.
In the finished version of Alien: Covenant, Rapace’s Shaw is relegated to cameo capacity—she really only appears in an online-only “prologue” that Fox put on YouTube ahead of the film’s release. In the film, we see in flashbacks that Shaw and David did find the Engineers’ home planet, at which point David committed genocide and wiped them all out. Then his tinkering to create more creatures took its toll on Shaw—literally. We saw her corpse in Covenant, with the suggestion being that she was eventually subjected to one of David’s experiments.
Indeed, the crux of Covenant follows an entirely new mission with Fassbender also playing an updated version of the android David named Walter. The crew of the Covenant lands on David’s planet, is subjected to his terrors, and ends with David cosplaying as Walter and putting Katherine Waterston’s character into hypersleep, heading off to parts unknown.
Well now we have some clarity on what Scott’s first pass on Prometheus 2 was like, courtesy of creature designer Carlos Huantes. Speaking with HN Entertainment, Huantes revealed that the first version of Alien: Covenant would have had more creatures in it and found David toying with little murderous creatures affectionately known as Meerkats, because of their resemblance to the adorable little animals. That version of the film was shut down and delayed, and when it started back up again a year later, it was with the version we see in the finished Covenant.
But in that earlier version, Noomi Rapace’s Shaw had a much larger role:
“Prior to the black goo genocide, I know that in the script I had, the early script, there was the story between Shaw and David, and how and why David got reassembled. That story happens at the beginning of the film but they kind of bypassed all of that which makes it a little more horrific in a way…
In the first version of what was called Paradise/Prometheus 2, Shaw was alive. They find her and she’s been hiding from David the whole time and she helps them escape. I told Ridley [that] my wife and mother-in-law, who are strong characters themselves, they loved the Shaw character and the actress (Noomi Rapace) more than any other characters in the film and they’re not science fiction people, but they liked the film because of Noomi. I think it was a studio call as to why she didn’t return. What a shame”
Huantes continued, revealing that in the initial version of the film, we saw more of what happened immediately after Prometheus:
“So in the first version of Covenant called Paradise, she was hiding in the catacombs from David under the city and the story was that on her trip to the homeworld she got lonely and she had David hanging outside the ship, she didn’t want anything to do with him. But she still had to talk to him. Eventually, she ends up bringing his body in and reattaching him as they become friends during this trip. He ends up having affection for her in a friendship way.”
When they got to the Engineers’ planet, however, David had a bloody surprise for his companion:
“So they end up going to the city and that’s when David looks at her and tells that story ‘Do you trust me, do you trust that I love you and everything I’m going to do from this point on is because of you and that’s all to protect you’…she looks at him and says ‘Okay, yes I do’ so then he turns around and kills all the Engineers on the planet. It’s his own twisted way of vengeance for her; he kills the planet. She is like ‘Hey, I wanted to talk to these people’ but too late the whole planet is polluted now and everyone on the planet dies.”
Huantes says that version of the film also featured a fight during the finale between the first version of the xenomorph and the neomorphs:
“The idea for the Xenomorph from the Prometheus era of the film series was that it was a creation of the Engineers, the original idea, made to wipe off a planet of life and then to wipe itself off because it [xeno/neomorph] has such hostility towards anything living even itself and that it would wipe off a planet and wipe itself off and leaving nothing there. Of course, all seems to have changed with Covenant.”
Scott himself teased an even wilder, more different story for Promehteus 2 during the first film’s press tour, so clearly the filmmaker had grand ideas for how the franchise could continue. At present, it’s unclear if Scott will be allowed to finish his David story—he wanted to make a sequel to Covenant, but the film underperformed at the box office. Moreover, with Disney now set to acquire 20th Century Fox, they may want to reboot the entire franchise and start from scratch. Oh and then there were James Cameron’s curious comments recently about possibly reviving Neill Blomkamp’s Alien sequel that Scott scuttled so he could make Covenant instead.
So yeah, right now we have no idea what’s happening with this franchise, but I remain endlessly fascinated by all the potential story roads Scott had in mind after he made Prometheus.