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I just saw the film Prometheus today, and as a sci-fi fan I was more than pleased. However, the story made me curious, and I would like to know more about the Engineers.

For example (possible spoiler):

Why did they create the human race and why did they want to destroy it afterwards? And is there a more complex reason for them to create the alien creatures besides using them as a weapon?

I do not know much about the Alien franchise and I've barely seen some fragments from the original films, but I do know there also some Alien comics and I was wondering if there are maybe some more things explained there.

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    Haven't seen Prometheus yet, but you must watch the Alien films, titled Alien (horror/SF) and Aliens (action/SF). Too bad they never made any sequels! – Andres F. Jun 10 '12 at 0:36
  • I watched parts of it when I was very little and it was too scary for me back then. Today would be a different issue so I just might watch them. :D – BBog Jun 10 '12 at 6:26
  • @AndresF. They made loads of sequels, well two. And then the aliens vs predator which were, I thought, very good too. Aliens, and alien are great much better than prometheus. – NimChimpsky Jul 5 '12 at 9:54
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    @NimChimpsky Yeah, I know :) My comment was an xkcd reference (read the last row). I prefer to believe they didn't make any sequels beyond Aliens. Especially not the "vs Predator" abominations, and Resurrection was pretty bad too. – Andres F. Jul 5 '12 at 14:42
  • @AndresF. Matrix 2 and 3 are much much more lame than the rest of alien and predator series. I thought aliens vs predator and predators were excellent. Each to their own I guess. Although I thought Ang Lee's Hulk movie was great aswell, so what do I know. – NimChimpsky Jul 5 '12 at 14:46
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Xenopedia has a very detailed article about the Engineers. It looks like the Alien universe isn't the most consistent, so there isn't really a consistent answer.

Within the movie universe, however, there isn't much said about them, so I'm free to speculate. It's spoilers all the way down.

I believe there are two warring factions in the engineer race. The first faction strives to create life, seeding worlds with its DNA. The other faction fights against this goal, by destroying that life.

The first engineer we see is dressed in a simple robe and drinks the black liquid in what seems like a religous ceremony. I imagine he was chosen for this duty because of his excellent DNA. Look at the guy: he's beautiful. The ship that brought him to earth is saucer-shaped and probably dropped other engineers on other parts of the planet. It's probably a transport ship carrying lots of engineers.

Contrast with the engineer seen in the second half of the movie. He appears to dress like a warrior and clearly doesn't like humans. Also, his ship is different: its purpose is to deliver the modifying, destructive black liquid.

I used to read the Alien comics and I think this idea came from them originally, but I can't remember what series. I'm certainly not smart enough to have thought it up myself.

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    Thank you for your answer. This theory makes a lot of sense. Still, I hope they will make a sequel in which they will reveal more about these Engineers, they have a lot of potential, especially combined with the already-established Alien universe – BBog Jun 10 '12 at 9:27
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    @BogdanBucur I've edited my answer to include a link to a Xenopedia article detailing everything known about the Engineers. – splattered bits Jun 10 '12 at 14:51
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Here is a possible answer, found on an io9 article: http://io9.com/5919306/another-theory-about-the-meaning-of-prometheus

While it is more of a speculation, it is well argumented and documented and it might help others who shared my curiosity.

[edit]Relevant excerpt from io9's article included below

The digital orrery that David activates indicates that Earth is just one planet that the Engineers were working with. (It would have been surprising had it been anything else.) What was taking place here was nothing less than a monumental program of experiments involving DNA accelerants, making it tempting to ascribe to that black goo a primordial/mythic status. Scott has said that 1981 caveman drama Quest for Fire was a big influence for this film, and one wonders how far to take that comparison. If that black goo really is the fire a la Quest (and the Prometheus legend itself), then the Engineers never created the accelerant, but rather stumbled across it. Or else were given it by their creators. This notion of the Engineers falling short of the status of unmoved mover — that they're not at the apex of the cosmic hierarchy—is given further weight by another tantalizing statement by Scott, namely, that he drew heavily on Sumerian myths in creating the universe of Prometheus. When we consider the extent to which those myths feature gods with divine helpers, it leaves one wondering whether the Engineers were merely the servants of something greater. After all, the Engineers seem pretty damn engineered themselves. They all look the same, and their art seems no less religious than do the cave-drawings back on Earth (a la that wall-image of the xenomorph, to say nothing of the gigantic head). We're thus led down a disquieting chain of logic: just as robots can turn the tables on humans... just as the xenomorphs turned the tables on the Engineers, and just as the Engineers feared humans would do the same — perhaps the Engineers themselves were rebelling against a greater master, left off-screen (and possibly long dead.)

  • Please include the infos from the URL in your answer; the URL alone is no answer. – Martin Schröder Sep 5 '12 at 21:44
  • Ok, done, I've added the relevant excerpt – BBog Sep 6 '12 at 7:43
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TL;DR

We (the human race) killed an Engineer (Jesus) that was sent to Earth 2000 years ago to "correct" our course, that made them decide to destroy us as an ultimate solution.


(The answer contains spoilers but due to the fact that they are in various places, I decided not to mask them)


There is an interview of Riddle Scott (which you can read here) where he actually addresses your question.

What he says is that the Engineers created the life on Earth and watched us closely over the course of the human history. They visited us by time to time but they didn't intervene.

By the time the human race reached the bottom of its decadence (which according to the director was during the Western Roman Empire) they decided to "reason" us by sending an Engineer to Earth who was what we now know as Jesus Christ. What we did with him? We crucified and killed him.

That was the catalyst that triggered their reaction to return to Earth and empty all their "black substance" cargo. They believed that if they cannot correct our path, then we didn't have a "place" in the universe and our objective has been completed. They set a course to Earth to destroy us but their plan backfired on them when the substance contaminated and killed the crew of the exact ship the team of Prometheus visits in the movie.

If you watch carefully, Dr. Shaw carbon-dates the decapitated Engineer and says that "he was killed 2000 years ago, give or take". The Prometheus expedition takes place in 2091, so give or take 60 years (Jesus died when he was 33), that makes a lot of sense.

There's a great deal with God and religion generally in the movie, also. Dr. Shaw keeps wearing her cross and even though all the western religion philosophy is disestablished from a specific point in the movie, she defends herself by telling that some greater being must exist that made the Engineers:

-Guess you can take off your father's cross now.

-Why would I wanna do that?

-Because they made us.

-And who made them?
Elizabeth talking to Charlie about their DNA findings

An alternative scene that was deleted from the theatrical version, also explains that the Engineers come from a place that is called Paradise, the name that the majority of human religions give to their heaven.

[...]

-When that thing, ripped your head off... What did he say David? Where did they come from?

-Thing, Dr. Shaw? Not too long you considered them gods.

-God never tried to kill me.

...

-So, David? What did he say? Where did they come from?

-There is no direct translation but several of your ancient cultures have a word similar to it. Paradise.
Elizabeth asking David what the Engineer said when he talked

So, the Engineers that created us in the first place are the same ones that decided to destroy us. And they have a very good reason to be upset!


P.S.: Guess how more upset will they be in the next movie (Alien: Covenant) when Elizabeth will visit their planet wearing (guess what!) her cross!

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