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'Prometheus': Comic-Con details of Ridley Scott's sci-fi origin story

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Prometheus
Fox

Turns out Prometheus actually will be an origin story — just not solely about the Alien franchise.

Screenwriter Damon Lindelof and co-star Charlize Theron came to Comic-Con Thursday and described the secretive sci-fi epic — currently being shot by Ridley Scott, director of 1979′s original Alien — as a story about humanity’s efforts to solve the mystery of our own beginnings in the universe. (The 3-D film is debuting next summer on June 8.)

“We begin at the beginning,” Lindelof said during a session with reporters before the film’s big Hall H panel presentation. “Ridley has been cryptically obtuse about everything, but there are some big ideas in Prometheus. It covers a vast expanse of time, past, present, and future.”

God, you’re talking like the guy who created Lost,” Theron teased him.

Comic-Con 2011: Get the latest news, photos, and more

Lindelof — who, of course, did co-create Lost — conceded the point. “If you’re looking for answers, you’ve come to the wrong place,” he shrugged.

But then, he actually gave a few …

“It doesn’t take place on Earth in any real significant way,” Lindelof said. “The way we’re exploring the future is away from Earth and [asking] what are people like now? What have they gone through and what are they thinking of?”

And those “big ideas” he hinted at: “Space exploration in the future is going to evolve into this idea that it’s not just about going out there and finding planets to build colonies. It also has this inherent idea that the further we go out, the more we learn about ourselves. The characters in this movie are preoccupied by the idea: what are our origins.”

Prometheus is a more philosophically ambitious sci-fi project, not simply a straight-forward horror film. Or, as Lindelof put it, don’t expect: “’Hey, we’re miners, and oh [expletive] we ended up stepping in this huge pile of very frightening s—!”

“We’re fundamentally exploring this idea of creation,” he said.

During the panel presentation, Scott, who is shooting at a remote waterfall in Iceland, appeared via video to offer a few tidbits to the Comic-Con crowd, among them: there may be two characters in the film who are robots, Theron will be doing “naked push-ups” and the final moments of the movie will thread back to the original Alien film.

A clip of rapid-fire imagery confirmed at least the “naked push-ups” part. And a scene of mechanical tubes filled with columns of green goo looked suspiciously like a technological version of the “egg room” from the original Alien film, suggesting that those monsters may have been engineered rather than naturally evolved.

Prometheus — which also stars Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Noomi Rapace — is not strictly a prologue to those movies (which was the original plan during its development). But Lindelof would not confirm or deny whether we’ll see the “space jockey,” that giant, dead pilot whose crashed ship contained the monster in the original Alien. “A lot of the fun in going to see [Prometheus] is if and how we’re going to try to connect that,” Lindelof said. “If you’re a fan of the original film, there will be little Easter eggs for you to find.”

Theron shed a little more light on the character she portrays, a corporate executive named Meredith Vickers who is overseeing the deep-space exploration in Prometheus. “She’s kind of the suit who runs the company that has nickel and dimed this whole thing together to fund this mission,” Theron says.

“Obviously, I wanted to work with [Scott], but felt the character was a little one-dimensional” in the original script, she said. After a re-write by Lindelof, Vickers became a role with a major twist. “She starts out one thing and becomes another thing,” Theron said.

“The great thing about Ridley is he shoots everything so layered and makes you wonder,” she added, saying the filmmaker started putting her in the background of scenes, just to make her more suspicious. “I would always be in the corner lurking, not saying anything, just watching. It adds to this character, her enigma, and what her agenda really is,” Theron said.

As for the title, what is Prometheus? A ship? A character? Simply an allusion to the Greek myth? Or will the alien be revealed as a Frankenstein-like human creation? (Remember, the full title of Mary Shelley’s tale was The Modern Prometheus.)

“We’re not going to talk specifically about how it connects into the movie, but yes, [in Greek mythology], Prometheus was a titan who stole fire from the gods because they were keeping it for themselves and worried about what mankind would do if we got our paws on it. That’s a resonant theme. What are humans doing that we shouldn’t be doing?” Lindelof says.

“It also sounds really pretentious, like Inception,” he joked. “Yeah, it makes the movie sound so smart, which is better than my original title – Explosion!”

For more Comic-Con news, follow Anthony Breznican on Twitter: @Breznican

Read more:

Entertainment Geekly‘s 2011 Comic-Con coverage

‘Alien’ prequel morphs into ‘Prometheus’

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