In addition to the official trailers, the marketing for Ridley Scott’s Prometheus has given us two “viral” videos in the form of faux-statements from Weyland Industries. Any fan of the original Alien series knows that Weyland-Yutani Industries was responsible for the Nostromo and the subsequent terraforming of the planet where the xenomorphs were first encountered by Ripley and friends. In the less-than-stellar Alien vs. Predator, the founder of Weyland Industries was revealed to be Charles Bishop Weyland, who’s appearance was later (in the timeline, but earlier in the films) used as the basis for the robot “Bishop” who we met in Aliens.
Now, Weyland Industries is back in the news so to speak, but what do these new statements from Weyland tell us about the plot of Prometheus? Just what kind of fictional universe is being created here? Is it all leading to something even bigger than just one, single movie?
Both the Peter Weyland TED talk and the commercial for the David 8 robot direct the viewer over to WeylandIndustries.com. When you go there, you’ll see links that let you watch both of the existing videos, but the page also seems to preview other material that is “classified,” meaning there isn’t a link yet. These categories are “Discover New Worlds” and “Careers.” My guess is both of these features on the website will end up being their own viral videos in the coming weeks.
But what does all of it mean? Well, other than it being a bunch of fun to look through all the made-up promotional material for Weyland Industries, I think something else might be going on. I think it’s possible Ridley Scott is merging the mythology of Alien with Blade Runner. Insane? Maybe, but consider the following:
First, both the viral videos focus on cybernetic life and the idea that robots are becoming sentient and “indistinguishable” from humans. This specific focus is a little different from the Weyland-Yutani we know of from Alien and Aliens. There, you get the notion that they are more interested in terra forming, mining space resources, and developing weapons. But, we’re splitting hairs, because it’s possible one innovation caused the next, and Weyland Industries have their fingers in various space pies.
The point is, David 8 (Michael Fassbender) seems like he would be very useful for off-world work, which is what we’re told the Replicants were used for in Blade Runner. Indeed, Roy Batty’s last words to Deckard are “I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I’ve watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate.”
I highly doubt Prometheus will specifically depict the C-beams, or the Tanhaser Gate any more than Doctor Who will ever show us The Time War or “The Nightmare Child.” These are just cool sounding things that get rattled off in awesome sci-fi speak. Famously, Rutger Hauer improved some of these lines anyway. But what’s interesting is the idea of Replicants out there in space, seeing things people wouldn’t believe. Now, with Prometheus, David is set to likely see things people wouldn’t believe. So could Prometheus and the robots we see in Alien and Aliens actually be Replicants from Blade Runner?
“No!” says the astute fan-person, because of all sorts of reasons. How dare I suggest something so ignorant!
Blade Runner is set in 2019, while Alien is set in 2122. Well, that might work actually, because maybe the Replicants are only being used off-world by Ripley’s time; thus Ash and Bishop would never be allowed on Earth, and perhaps even share the limited lifespan of the Replicants.
But maybe not, because the corporation in Blade Runner is the Tyrell Corporation NOT Weyland Industries. However, this could be explained away with a corporate merger or hostile takeover, with the latter being more likely.
Okay, but then I get into trouble again because the new TED talk from Peter Weyland is set in 2023, and robots seem pretty new, so Blade Runner being set in 2019 doesn’t work at all at that point at all, right? (Further, who do I think I am!)
Blade Runner is based on a book by Philip K. Dick; why would Ridley Scott think he had a right to mess with the continuity of any of that? I guess my belief is the Blade Runner of the screen is more Ridley Scott than Philip K. Dick, so why wouldn’t he? Also, it seems very likely that the themes Scott explored with the Replicants in Blade Runner will exist somewhere in Prometheus. Both viral videos treat cybernetic life as a big deal. And again, robots working off-world is at the core of what the Replicants are pissed off about in Blade Runner. AND Prometheus screenwriter Lindeloff is talking about robots constantly! But I suppose none of that proves Prometheus and the Alien series are set the same universe as Blade Runner. Unless.
…there is a Blade Runner reboot coming. The rumors have been floating around for ages, and Ridley Scott has always made noises that he would be involved if anything like that were to happen. And if it did happen, then the continuity of Prometheus could certainly build up to a new version of Blade Runner. Also, if both Prometheus and my imagined Blade Runner reboot take place far enough before Alien and Aliens, then there’s no real continuity problems, other than the technology sucking more in the older films than in the newer ones. (And that’s a problem sci-fi prequels will always have.)
If this all came to pass, the original Blade Runner would be rendered an alternate universe. But when you consider that Weyland-Yutani is referenced in an episode of Angel, then maybe there are more alternate universes out there than we think.
Okay people. Get your flamethrowers out and tell me you’re not at least a little bit excited by this theory, even if it’s crazy.
Ryan Britt is the staff writer for Tor.com. He wonders why they don’t just freeze him.