SO WHO ARE THE ENGINEERS?
AND WHY DO THEY WANT TO DESTROY US,
OR DO THEY?
The terraforming of the planet seen in the opening sequence of Prometheus gives credence to Darwin's theory of evolution. As David (Michael Fassbender) says just before contaminating Holloway (Logan Marshall-Green), "Big things have small beginnings," and, from the sacrificial Engineer, tiny cells will soon result in a thriving ecosystem. Darwinism, however, is not the only theory at work here.
The film's momentum guides a group of scientists to find their creators, a realization that is met with the question of, If they created us, who created them? It's a question that also leaves open the possibility for one true creator. Therefore, the creation of life on Earth could still be directly traced to one all-powerful being/spirit/God, it's simply a matter of adding a third-party to the mix.
Now, as for who these "Engineers" are, I have a theory I've been working on.
Looking at the picture above of the Engineer we see in the film's opening, a few things stick out to me, particularly his smooth hairless body, devoid of fat and ripped with muscle. Looking at this man I see what could be described as the ideal physical specimen. Based on the technology they have I think it's also safe to say their superiority ranges beyond merely the physical. They are extremely knowledgeable and, I'd say, extremely spiritual. In essence, a perfect species.
This in mind, upon drinking the black fluid and decomposing into the water, I see the beginnings of a world built entirely on the essence of a pure life force, untainted by disease, stress, jealousy, rage, envy, war, etc.
What's interesting about this is to try and label just who these beings may be. I don't think it's too far fetched to look at them as angels of the creator. Whether you believe that to be a variation of God or not, I don't think it really matters. Scott himself made a similar comparison referencing John Milton's "Paradise Lost" saying, "In a funny kind of way, if you look at the Engineers, they're tall and elegant... they are dark angels. If you look at 'Paradise Lost,' the guys who have the best time in the story are the dark angels, not God."
Using this frame of mind, the engineers could be acting on God's behalf. Granted, alien lifeforms flying through space in horseshoe shaped ships and flying saucers isn't exactly "per the Bible", but in the sense the film is partially a search for mankind's creator it certainly fits, and if you believe the Engineers were coming to Earth to destroy mankind it fits that theory as well. Here's how.
Whether it's Earth or not, what is shown in the opening of the film is implied to have taken place on Earth at some point, kick-starting life on our blue marble. The result of this process is the world we live in today. Now compare those pure beginnings with mankind today, a world loaded with war, pollution, famine, obesity, Kim Kardashian and "The Jersey Shore." What creator, perfect in most every way, wouldn't want to destroy us? What creator would not look at that as the fall of man?
Personally I see the creators as messengers (angels) of the great creator (God), which calls to mind another line from Nietzsche's "Thus Spoke Zarathustra: A Book for All and None" that asks, "What is the ape to man? A laughingstock or painful embarrassment. And man shall be to the superman: a laughingstock or a painful embarrassment." I used and examined this quote in a very different way when I explored Stanley Kubrick's 2001 last year, but in more than one way it's applicable here.
First there are the Engineers (which I think we could easily compare to the "superman"), looking down on mankind as "apes". We never hear what David whispers to the Engineer at the end of the film, but the way he reacts is almost as if he's been insulted. How dare this "thing" approach me as an equal! What's worse in David's case is he's an artificial construct of the "ape" he sees as an embarrassment and on top of that, not knowing what David actually said creates a scratch that must be itched, but we'll get to that soon enough.
Which brings me to a specific point, I am not convinced the Engineers wanted to destroy mankind at all -- a new concept for me even since writing my review -- but that too is something I'll get to shortly.
However, I bring that Nietzsche quote up so I can also explore the motivations and desires of another character in the film. The one character that not only strives for greatness in an attempt to become the "superman" but one that believes he may have actually become a god...