Here’s a little something that blew my mind recently; Prometheus wasn’t Ridley Scott’s first Alien prequel. In fact, he’s been at it since 1984.
As it turns out, Scott’s Blade Runner has a number of sneaky connections to the world of acid-spitting xenomorphs. Although these clues are subtle (and many are buried in DVD extras or offhand comments from the director), they suggest that the two franchises share their universe.
That involuntary shudder you felt going down your spine? I get it. It’s understandable. Here’s a Public-Service announcement everyone already knows; shared universes are now ‘cool’, and that means each studio with half a pulse is jumping on the bandwagon. Yet I’m very much aboard the hype train this time.
Please don’t hate me.
To begin with, the connection makes a whole ton of sense. Both are grimy and washed out worlds with an air of hopelessness. Big industry is Bad, they tell us, and it’s only the human connection we share – be it compassion or common decency – that makes life worth living. Scott himself said that he always imagined the two being linked; he saw Blade Runner’s Los Angeles as the kind of place the crew of Nostromo, the ill-fated ship in Alien, were trying to escape. As mentioned in a director’s commentary for Blade Runner, ‘this world could easily be the city that supports the crew that go out in Alien. So, in other words, when the crew of Alien come back in, they might go into this place and go into a bar off the street near where Deckard lives. That’s how I thought about it’.
Secondly, there’s a lot of shared technology between the two; the replicants we see throughout Blade Runner 2049 are just a step behind the likes of David in Prometheus, and that follows because the latter is set around fifty years later.
However, the most convincing evidence comes in the form of bonus material for the theatrical release of both Alien and Prometheus. The former includes data on the Nostromo’s captain, and it turns out that he served under Blade Runner’s Tyrell Corporation before working for Weyland-Yutani, the mega-corp. from Alien. As for Prometheus, extras contained in the steel-book contain a message from Weyland-Yutani founder (Guy Pierce’s character) wherein he implies that Tyrell was his mentor. Inspired/chilled by Tyrell’s failure – he’s murdered by his own creations, the poor sap – Weyland sets out to create something better.
Due to all this, I feel that the connection fleshes out both universes in a logical way. It fires up the imagination as well, because now we know why everyone’s so desperate to go colonise other worlds. Earth’s a real dump.
I don’t think the connection matters a huge deal, either. They’re unlikely to cross over due to the time-difference (Blade Runner takes place decades before Alien), and it’s more of a cool Easter-egg than anything else. Considering the unsubtle way many shared universes are created these days, there’s something elegant about that.