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Though Damon Lindelof is a close compatriot of J.J. Abrams and his fellow mastermind in creating the mystery box of Lost, he's not quite as secretive as his counterpart. He's been hard at work on any number of scripts over the last few years, including the long-awaited Star Trek 2, but one of the most confusing situations has been the work he did for Prometheus, the movie I've been referring to for a while now as "the not-quite-prequel to Alien." When we first heard about the project, we knew that Lindelof had tossed around some ideas with Ridley Scott, who was planning to come back for another film in the Alien universe, and that Lindelof would go off to write a screenplay that would either become the Alien prequel or a new sci-fi project entirely.
The project then turned into Prometheus, which is in production now with Michael Fassbender, Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron, Guy Pearce and Idris Elba leading the cast. There's still pretty much zero details about the plot, but Lindelof has shed a good bit of light on the process that led to him writing the script-- again, the kind of thing secrecy-obsessed Abrams probably wouldn't reveal at this point. Talking on The Kevin Pollak Chat Show, as transcribed by Slashfilm, he revealed that the film indeed did start as an Alien prequel, but he didn't really want to take it that way.
I’ve always felt that really good prequels should be original movies. And the sequels to those prequels should not be the movie which already exists because, with all due respect to anyone who makes a prequel, but why would you ruin the greatest twist in the history of cinema, "Luke, I am your father", by showing me three movies which basically spoil that surprise. You can do movies which take place before Star Wars but I don't need to see the story of the Skywalker clan. Show me something else which I can’t guess the possible outcome of. There is no suspense in inevitability. So a true prequel should essentially proceed the events of the original film, but be about something entirely different, feature different characters , have an entirely different theme, although it takes place in that same world. That was my fundamental feeling about what this movie wanted to be.
He went on to describe Prometheus as "the movie I would want to see as a fanboy, take place in that Alien universe, which precedes the events of the original Alien, but is not necessarily burdened by all the tropes of that franchise with Facehuggers and Chestbursters." He also went into plenty of detail about the meetings and plans that led to him writing the script, which are well worth a read over at Slashfilm.
Lindelof is pretty much an expert at talking to the devoted nerds who both love the stuff he creates and are ruthless about picking it apart-- his constant responses to people criticizing the Lost finale have been both touching and a little sad to watch-- so it sounds like he's pretty much trying to cut that nitpicking off at the pass this time. Prometheus seems to be the film they've been promising-- part of the Alien universe, but not beholden to anything we've seen in the other films, and that may include the types of alien creatures we see. Say all you want about wishing the movie would be more devoted to the films that came first, but I'm hundreds of times more enthusiastic to see Lindelof, Scott and company work with something more original, a movie that can exist only for itself and no larger mythology.