The Engineers are an alien race that feature in the movie Prometheus.
The Engineers were a mysterious race of precursors that were more than 3,000 years old. By this point, their civilization had developed advanced technology including starships and biotechnology. During this time, they visited the primordial planet Earth where one of their kind infected themself with a bioweapon that killed him. His deceased body later fell into a waterfall where the biological agent disassembled his body that was spread into the water thus bringing about the spread of DNA on Earth. As a result, this act led to the rise of Human life that were derived from the Engineers. Ancient Human cultures were noted to had seen the gigantic Engineers who pointed them towards a sequence of stars that were so far from Earth that it was impossible to see them. Around 2,000 years ago, the Engineers established a facility on LV-233 that contained numerous vessels along with their supply of bioweapons. It was believed that the Engineers bioweapon later turned against them leading to many of the Engineers being killed. This facility's personnel intended to take one of their vessels to travel onto Earth where they would wipe out the planet in order to re-engineer the world once more. However, the few surviving Engineers instead entered into hypersleep where they remained undisturbed for thousands of years.
By the 21st century, Elizabeth Shaw was involved in archaelogical expeditions on Earth that discovered evidence of the Engineers. This involved the discovery similar pictographs from seven different civilizations that had no contact with one another. The pictograph was believed by Dr. Shaw to be an invitation to Humanity to arrive on the world of the Engineers. Their discovery was brought before the Weyland Corporation which intrigued the interest of its head, Peter Weyland. As a result, an expedition was launched to explore the world in the pictographs which saw the Interstellar Research Vessel Prometheus being launched on a two year voyage through space in cryosleep on a secret mission to LV-233. Upon their arrival, the crew began exploring the world and uncovered mound-like temples along with the dead remains of numerous Engineers. This saw David take one of the bioweapon urns and infect Holloway. The infected Holloway later had sexual intercourse with Shaw thus impregnated through the bioweapon despite the fact that she was sterile. In the meantime, the android David had secretly explored the Engineer temple under orders from Weyland who was actually alive in stasis on a secret part of the Prometheus. His mission was to find one of the Engineers for his creator in order to use their advanced science to allow Peter Weyland to live immortally. One of the Engineers were discovered in hypersleep where David uncovered their desire to destroy Earth. He later brought Weyland and Shaw whereupon he awakened the Engineer. However, the alien ripped David's head from his body and killed Weyland along with several of his bodyguards. Afterwards, the Engineer began the activation process of the ship that was actually located beneath the temple mound where he plotted a course for Earth. Shaw managed to escape from the Engineer and revealed the aliens intention to Captain Janek who commanded the Prometheus. Despite possessing no weapons, the Captain sent the Prometheus on a suicidal crash trajectory to the Engineer ship thus causing it to crash back to the surface of the planet. With his plan stopped, the vengeful Engineer travelled to the lifeboat of the Prometheus in order to kill Shaw. Just as he was about to do so, she opened the medical bay that contained an alien organism that was born from Shaw as a result of her impregnation by Holloway. Released, the creature attacked the Engineer and grasp him within its tentacles where it engulfed his body whilst putting a tendril through the humanoid's mouth. Shaw later took the damaged David in order to use the android's knowledge to operate another Engineer ship in order to find the alien races homeworld and find out the reason for their desire to eliminate mankind. After the ship departed, the defeated Engineer on LV-233 died as the organism had impregnated him with a Xenomorph that burst through his body and took its first steps as it became fully formed.
In the meantime, Elizabeth Shaw was on-board the Engineer ship with David where she began to repair the Synthetic. She completed rebuilding him but as the journey time was unknown Shaw entered into a hibernation pod as the vessel went towards the Engineer homeworld. David managed the ship as he studied the Engineers and their history where he concluded that they were a threat. As the ship reached the planet, David brought it into docking procedures on the surface where a large crowd of Engineers was present. David then decided to unleash the content of the ship namely the pods containing the black liquid which detonated in the lower atmosphere and dispersed over the population. It instantly killed the Engineers where it turned many of their bodies into black stone with any survivors becoming incubators for the liquid that spawned deadly lifeforms that erupted from their hosts. The ship later crashed near the mountains where David was not stranded on the planet and he later ended up killing Elizabeth Shaw as he used her as part of his experiments on the black liquid based creatures as he sought to create the perfect organism. He remained on the world for many years where he ran out of subjects to experiment on and had concluded that mankind needed to be wiped out.
At some point, another Engineer vessel contained an entire cargo of Xenomorph eggs where the pilot was killed when one of this cargo that was contained in a compartment filled with electrical mist broke. A facehugger later impregnated him and he was killed whilst the ship crashed on LV-426. Despite being killed, the Engineer managed to send out a distress signal from his vessel that continued to be broadcasted afterwards. It was this transmission that attracted the Nostromo that was a mining ship of Weyland-Yutani corporation. The Company later redirected the mining ship to investigate the crashed derelict on the world which led to humanity's encounter with the Xenomorphs.
Members of the species were muscular humanoids that were bipedal tall beings that stood 10 feet talls and were hairless with blue-greyish features along with pale-white features. They were shown to possess staring "dead seeming" eyes and were completely bald. They were remarkably similar in appearance to humans and in fact genetically shared many DNA elements with mankind. This was because they were a precursor species whose own genetic material was used to bring about the emergence of human life on Earth. As a result, the term "Engineer" was used to describe them due to their involvement in "engineering" mankind. Each Engineer was shown to be quite strong and easily able to rip the head of an android in its arms. They were shown to wear uniforms that appeared biological in origin and were able to wear suits of armor with a helmet that had elephantine features. To outsiders, it made it seem that the creature was elephantine in features but this was simply a suit that they wore. They were also shown to be stronger than humans as Engineers in their pressure suits were easily able to rip the head of a Synthetic and hit humans with a great deal of force that sent them flying across rooms. Furthermore, they breath air but seemingly survived more harsher atmospheres as well. The language used by the aliens was deciphered by using the base roots of numerous languages on Earth that was the means of communicating with the Engineers.
Technologically, the Engineers were highly advanced where they were able to create interstellar vessels. These resembled large asymmetrical wishbone-shaped craft with a thickened central section between the two horns that bent upwards. They stationed these ships on planets that rested in large hangers beneath large mound-like temples that opened up when the craft was ready to depart. Within the craft, an atmosphere was generated that allow living beings such as the Engineers or Humans to operate without breathing apparatuses even on worlds that had a toxic atmosphere. The ship's interior had circular corridors with an organic element in their design and walls with murals that required specific sequences on the heiroglyphics in order to open doorways. One button allowed a crewmember to activate the ships holographic recording system that showed the log of the ship by projecting holograms of the crews actions. The bridge contained a central console that required a flute-like device being used and specific sequence of buttons to be pressed to activate the ship. This area was able to generate a holographic starmap and the centre platform opened up to allow a large seat that served as the cockpit to operate the vessel. In addition, the bridge contained four chambers that allowed the crew to enter into hypersleep. They had also been skilled in the arts of terraforming hostile environments into more livable conditions.
The Engineers were skilled in the art of bioengineering which they accomplished through a black substance. This was actually a bioweapon that was stored within small dishes or urns that emanated the liquid. A small container was capable of being drunk by an Engineer where the substance disassembled their body on a genetic level leading to their body falling apart. Whilst their DNA unzipped, it would be used as the basis to bringing about the emergence of life in the form of the Engineers as was seen with the case of Humanity. One drop of the liquid was also able to infect organic hosts where their skin squired with seemingly worm-like growths. The urns were able to produce large quantities of the liquid that altered organic creatures and transformed them into lethal versions. This included turning worm-like creatures into dangerous cobra-style beings, infecting a human turning them into large deformed mutants and lead to an infect human falling incredibly sick. An infected human that had sexual intercourse with a sterile human led to the impregnation of an organism that resembled a squid that grew rapidly where in the span of a day that the female was three months pregnant. This squid creature would eventually grow to large proportions where it sought to capture an organic host and impregnate them with a Xenomorph.
- The Engineers were first named in Prometheus.
Behind the Scenes
H.R. Giger originally designed the derelict spacecraft and the Space Jockey and originally named the creature ‘The Pilot’. The Alien production crew, however, nicknamed the creature ‘The Space Jockey’.
An article in Cinefex (p34, 64 commented on Gigers Alien (25 July, 1978): "The pilot is conceived as one of my biomechanoids, attached to the seat so as to form a single unit... In his seat in the centre of the turntable is the pilot, eight metres (26 feet) tall." (p34). On page 64, "The creature we finally ended up building is biomechanical to the extent that he has physically grown into, or maybe even out of, his seat, - he's integrated totally into the function he performs."
During an interview, Ridley Scott commented:
- "And therefore there’s two questions in the film: the guy at the beginning is simply donating himself, no stranger than the Aztecs or Incas would choose some poor bugger, at the beginning saying “right, you’re it, in the year you get all the girls you want, all the food you want, blah blah, and at the end of the year we’re going to take your heart, take it out, squeeze it, and we’re going to get jolly good crops and good weather next year.” It’s no more than that, he’s into a form of donation, except his DNA is so powerful, each molecule is like a timebomb. So, we only set our standards by what we know here, which makes us essentially naive. We don’t, we can’t conceive of galloping DNA: I release that on the desk, and in a second I’ve got a cotton wool ball going black. We can’t conceive that because it’s not in your frame of experience. So you’ve got to take your brain, put it on the side, and when you enter the movie just let yourself breath."
Actor/model Daniel Twiss who plays the "Sacrificial Engineer" in the beginning of the movie added in an interview on his performance in the movie:
- "In the original Alien, the crew encounter the ‘Space Jockey’, now known as an ‘Engineer’ (the name for the alien race) however, as this is a semi-prequel, the ‘Engineers’ have a much bigger part to play. My character is that of a fairly young ‘Engineer’ who ritualistically sacrifices himself in the opening scene. This sacrifice is very different to any others as I have to drink an ancient mix which causes my body to literally disintegrate into the water around me. This then provides the first building blocks for new life to form on the alien planet. There are two other ‘Engineers’ who are in the rest of the film and have fairly large parts, but you will have to wait for release to find out more."
In an interview with Sir Ridley Scott:
- "And because they’re such aggressive f**kers … and who wouldn’t describe them that way, considering their brilliance in making dreadful devices and weapons that would make our chemical warfare look ridiculous? So I always had it in there that the God-like creature that you will see actually is not so nice, and is certainly not God."
- " 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 [John Milton’s] Paradise Lost, the guys who have the best time in the story are the dark angels, not God."
- "That could be anywhere. That could be a planet anywhere. All he’s doing is acting as a gardener in space. And the plant life, in fact, is the disintegration of himself. If you parallel that idea with other sacrificial elements in history – which are clearly illustrated with the Mayans and the Incas – he would live for one year as a prince, and at the end of that year, he would be taken and donated to the gods in hopes of improving what might happen next year, be it with crops or weather, etcetera."
Concept Art concerning the movie refers to the Engineer starship as the "Juggernaut" and the alien ruins as the "Pyramid Mounds".
In other media
- In Alien Versus Predator: Requeim, an Engineer helmet was shown in the Predators trophy case.
- In Aliens Infestation, the unnamed pilot of the crashed ship on Acheron was present in the 2D side scrolling shooting game. A Xenomorph seemingly spawned from the pilot was present where it was a gigantic browned skinned creature that had a trunk which could spit out streams of acid. It was killed by the players character during the story mission in the video game.
- The Alien versus Predator games showed the Space Jockeys in background sets in the game though they had a more active involvement in Alien versus Predator: Primal Hunt where they are referred to as the Pilots who had a base on LV-1201. These Pilots created the Artifact that was a device in a chamber that had a repelling effect on the Xenomorphs. A Predator clan discovered the Artifact and used the site as a camp until an error caused it to power down. Many years later, Vasili Rykov launched an expedition to recover the Artifact and sell it to an outside buyer.
- In Aliens: Colonial Marines, the derelict ship is visited once again in the game where Weyland-Yutani built a research station called the Origin Facility to study the Engineer craft where the dead pilot remains were within the navigation seat.
- In the Alien novelization (1979) by Alan Dean Foster, the aliens were described as being a noble race described by Ash who hoped to mee tthem under more pleasant circumstances. Within its pages, it described the aliens wa sbeing larger, stronger and potentially more intelligent than Humans. Foster's novel stated that the aliens attempted to warn humans away from the Xenomorphs onboard the derelict.
- The graphic novel Aliens: Book 1 by Mark Verheiden by 1988 depicted a living alien as being a malevolent being who was alive 13-15 years after the incident at Hadley's Hope who was telepathic and informed Billy that it was a partner to the one on the derelict. The Space Jockey saved Humans that were on the Xenomorph homeworld due to its hatred of the parasitic creatures but later revealed that it intended to wipe out or enslave mankind once its mission to wipe out the Xenomorphs was complete. This alien used its vessel to emit a beam to begin terraforming Earth into a cold uninviting world like LV-426/
- The follow-up comic Dark Horse Presents: Aliens shows a second Space Jockey in orbit of Earth and was using its ship to terraform the planet. This alien was assassinated when the President of the United States and his advisors met with it and unleashed Xenomorphs on the Space Jockey.
- In Steve Perry's Earth Hive (1992), the Space Jockey's species were referred to as collectors due to them collecting Xenomorph eggs.
- A spinoff sequel to Alien Resurrection titled Aliens: Original Sin (2005) written by Michael Jan Friedman referred to the race as the Mala'kak and had been secretly in contact with the secret Human organization called Loki for the last 200 years.
- The comic The Destroying Angels (1999) claims that the Xenomorphs led to the virtual extinction of the Space Jockeys around 1.6 billion years ago and showed a facehugger spawning a Space Jockey Xenomorph.
- In the Dark Horse Fire and Stone event, the Engineers were part of the background in the issues covering Prometheus, Aliens, Predator and Alien versus Predator.