I used to be a big fan of Marvel Comics in my younger days. The original stories by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko were a breath of fresh air compared to the drek being offered to us youngsters by DC. It didn’t take long before the stories began to intertwine between the various titles, which made for some good story possibilities and helped some of the struggling titles sell, since you had to buy them all to follow the plot. By the late seventies though, it was becoming an effort to keep up with the convoluted machinations of writers who kept tinkering with the characters to jack up sales. I finally gave up around my thirtieth birthday.
Movies and TV have gone down this road as well. Remember the season of Dallas that turned out to be a dream, so that Bobby Ewing’s death and resurrection could be explained? And in the latest incarnation of Star Trek , the writers employed the well-worn time paradox ploy to wipe out forty years of future history so that they could restart the adventures of Kirk and Spock with a clean slate.
Spoiler alert – If you haven’t seen the movie ‘Prometheus’ and plan to, you may want to skip the rest of this post. -RL
I have been a fan of Ridley Scott’s movies since he scared the bejesus out of me with the original Alien movie back in 1979. Scott introduced us to the tough-as-nails female heroine Ripley, whose survival instincts carried her through three sequels, the best being Aliens, by a young James Cameron. The others were not as good, but they did keep the storyline intact.
So I was excited to learn that Scott was returning to the franchise with a prequel called Prometheus. The story was a closely guarded secret, but there were tantilizing tidbits in the trailers on the internet. Questions of the aliens’ origin would be answered, along with their connection to human evolution. I had to see it.
And I did, but came away with a mixture of confusion and disappointment. First off, we learn that we humans owe our existance to a race of aliens known only as the engineers. When ancient cave-drawings lead us to a desolate moon in a far-off constellation, we find out that these engineers are the same aliens that fell victim to the creatures introduced in the original movie, but their elephantine features were only masks (helmets?) hiding human-like features. Worse yet, it appears that the engineers were having second thoughts about their creations (us) and were developing a race of predatory monsters to wipe the slate clean. Something went wrong though, and the engineers themselves fell victim to their evolving uglies. Apparently, these engineers weren’t too good at their profession.
But wait a minute…This story takes place in the waning years of the 22nd Century. If the aliens hadn’t evolved yet, then how did they get under the ice of Antarctica in a Mayan temple with yet another advanced race in Alien vs. Predator, which takes place in the 20th Century? Maybe that one was a dream.
As usually happens in the series, the crew of Prometheus is whittled down to one feisty female who outdoes Ripley by giving herself a caesarian to abort an alien inside her, and jumps off the operating table to do battle with the monsters. Then she, along with the obligatory treacherous decapitated android, takes off in yet another unseen alien ship to confront the engineers on their home turf. We’ll have to wait a few more years to see how that turns out, but I already feel sorry for the aliens/engineers.
I guess this is par for the course with modern storytelling. It’s no wonder the engineers want to squelch a race that can’t seem to stop tinkering with the past. We do it all the time with our own reality, rewriting history over and over to make it fit our own perceptions and prejudices. Coming up next: Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter. I kid you not.