Yesterday Jon Spaihts' original Prometheus script popped up on the internet. And it included lots, and lots, and lots of differences with the version that we actually saw on screen, after Damon Lindelof had rewritten it. But what are the biggest changes, and does it make any more sense?
Find out for yourself. We've rounded up a list of the most monumental differences between Spaihts' script and the final product. Major spoilers ahead, if you haven't seen Prometheus...
First up, we don't have Damon Lindelof's actual script on hand, so we can't say 100% what Lindelof added and what Ridley Scott changed during filming. For example, we know from set photos that the original "Elder Engineer gathering" was shot, but didn't make the final cut. However there are still plenty of differences between the two films that obviously couldn't have been filmed at all — because they would have changed the entire plot of the movie. Here are the more obvious differences.
Real quick, let's run down a few minor changes we noticed right off the bat. For one, Prometheus was originally titled Alien: Engineers. Second, the ship was originally called the Magellan. The infamous black goo is a lot less goo-like, and transforms into a swarm of insects, often likened to scarabs. The Engineers didn't create humans, they merely infected us in our primitive years, and sped up our evolution (there's a scene of a primate lady getting bit by a black goo bug, thus injecting her with smartypants DNA). And also Shaw is called Watts (but we kept it to Shaw for this review).
Weyland is NOT on board the Prometheus. The first time Shaw and Holloway meet the old man, he's on a Weyland Wheel space station trying to figure out the engineering difficulties that surround terraforming. This is an epic moment because it sets up Weyland's ruthlessness. He steals the scientists' notes and tells them he wants to be God. He comes across as a man willing to do whatever to get what he wants. And he also sets up the scientists bad decision making skills. Shaw and Holloway basically trade funds for the ship, crew, and time, as long as Weyland gets to keep all the technology they find. Which... there's no way THAT will come back and bite them in the ass.
You meet David on Mars with Weyland. When the crew heads out into space David is also there greeting them and helping them out of hypersleep. However, David's Ritual, the very Lost-esque "Mamma Cass getting ready" moment, isn't in the draft. There's no basketball, Lawrence of Arabia , root dyeing — all the attempts David makes to be human are missing from the draft. In fact, all of the hypersleep moments are gone. You don't get to see Vickers doing her insane wake-up pushups, or Shaw throwing up — which was great character building detail. Point to Lindelof on this one.
Vickers is NOT Weyland's daughter. She no longer has some super creepy agenda (well she keeps the terraforming thing a secret, but who cares — it's not like she's harboring her crypt keeper father on board). In Spaiths' version Vickers isn't trying to impress her father, she's pissed. She was ordered to follow the scientists on this mission, thus losing her place in line as CEO of Weyland. She doesn't believe in the alien theory and hates everything about this mission. Gone are the creepy rules about "first contact," replaced with one really bitter (slightly older) woman.
Holloway is almost an entirely different character. He's no longer some sort of weird robot racist. Also when they finally get to investigate the Engineers lair, and find actual dead Engineers, he doesn't pout and turn into a giant drunk baby. While he's still a bit disappointed, Holloway seems pretty excited that they discovered alien life. Which is nice.
The most jarring change has to be Holloway's death. Instead of being poisoned by David (for reasons) Holloway blacks out inside the Engineer building. He returns to the human ship, altered and terrified. Looking for solace he turns to his lady love, Shaw, and they start to make the beast with two backs. Clearly Holloway has been facehuggered — because soon enough, a terrible, horrible creature bursts through his chest (tentacles waving out of his throat). He dies instantly and the little bugger goes after Shaw. Which sets up the first ever early version of a Xenomorph, and establishes that this creature has smarts. Shaw escapes by hiding in the closet which, horrifyingly, the baby Xeno almost gets into by flattening itself and trying to crawl under the door. YIKES.
David the android is much more villainous in this version of the script. And with Weyland not around to direct his eager-to-please android son, all of David's actions are strictly personal. When Shaw realizes David is completely out of control and threatens him, he attacks her like a robot menace, legs running faster than a human's. In order to silence Shaw (an order Weyland gave him before the mission, that he's taking great liberty with) the android lets a very early version of a facehugger infect Shaw (he holds her down while it attacks). Oh and the medi pod scene where Shaw cuts out her parasite is still very much in this version — but with a twist.
It's David who makes the decision to awaken the Engineers. During the two and a half years it took to reach the Engineers' outpost, David learned how to think in "trinary code." The language and logic process of the Engineers. Once mastered, the code delivered him from "slavery." Which means he doesn't have to take orders from Weyland or Vickers any more. Anxious to meet his liberators, David wakes the last sleeping Engineer up, and his head is immediately ripped off, much like in the original. It's really and truly android curiosity that kills the crew.
Terraforming > The Fountain of Youth
Weyland is not some scary tree-beard creature looking for the secret to eternal youth. Rather, he wants the secrets to terraforming. This is why he sends the crew there. And that's why Vickers is there. He is not on board the ship at all — but rather, a whole crew of hibernating military type folks are, whom Vickers awakens once she discovers the aliens' terraforming tech.
The final scene of Alien: Engineers isn't Shaw and David Lost In Space. Nope. Shaw is still stranded in Vickers' super sweet life boat, which hasn't been destroyed after it was ejected. Shaw is still hella pissed at David for sticking her with a facehugger, waking up the Engineer and everything else on the long list of terrible things that David did. However now she's stranded alone, in this fancy lifeboat. The conclusion fast forwards a few weeks ahead and shows Shaw living in the pod, scavenging the wreckage of their ship for supplies (Xenomoprh-like head spiked outside of her door) and playing chess with the voice of David. She's left David's noggin in the Engineer's ship, but still talks to him via their communication devices. He's trying to convince her to come get him, but she's not into it. Shaw believes someone will come, but David, being the delightful snarky little shit that he is says something to the tune of, "yes but who?" The last thing you see is the Engineer pyramid, sending off a giant light from the top of the building. The light heads through space to another planet. Where a ton of other pyramid buildings also light up. Uh oh!
It's hard to say which one is better. The Spaiths' script much simpler. It hints at the big questions without getting lost in the answers. Also there's just heaps and heaps of character development that is lost in the final product. However David is still pretty flawed in this version. And the Lindelof routine really helped flesh him out quite a bit more. Lindelof is better at world building.
We can't say if we would have rather had a chestburster and a facehugger over the snake monster. But the idea of an early formed Xenomorph running around the ship terrorizing the crew is never a bad idea. Hell, it worked in all the other Alien movies. The saddest cut has to be losing the terraforming as a secret motivation for the expedition. Cutting out the vaguely written mysticism about living forever in favor of pure profits fits the Weyland we grew up with much better. Plus, the terraforming communities are a big part of this world. Both versions needed a lot more love, but we're leaning towards the Spaihts draft, purely for keeping so much new age mysticism and daddy issues out of the equation.