Why Did The Engineers Want To Destroy Humans In Prometheus (2012)?

In Prometheus, why did the Engineers want to destroy humans, whom they created themselves? Why did they want to wipe humankind out of existence?

Ridley Scott’s Prometheus (2012) is a spectacular science-fiction film, existing in the same universe as the original Alien films. It is a perfect blend of a great story, a flawless cast, and effectual non-distracting 3-D effects. What makes Prometheus all the more intriguing is the fact that it raises deep questions about the origin and inherent nature of humans. With the ending of Prometheus, an abundance of fascinating questions was left unanswered, some of which even Alien: Covenant did not address. If such questions find you scratching your head in bafflement, then this post got you covered.

In Prometheus, the Engineers were an ancient humanoid extraterrestrial race whose origin was unknown. They were planet builders who seeded planets with the gift of life. That the creators of life on Earth were so aggressive to the human crew and proceeded to launch a ship that would destroy humanity surprised the viewers. Were the Engineers jealous of the advancements of humans? Did they consider humans as lab rats to be destroyed once their experiments were over? Was there any other reason? Let us look at this in detail.

Why Did The Engineers Want To Destroy Humanity?

The release of comments on Prometheus has bared open Ridley Scott’s perspectives as to why the Engineers wanted to wipe out humanity. But before we get to Scott’s explanation, here are some plausible theories that appear even more logical than the director’s answers.

Theory #1: Life On Earth Was Meant To Be An Experiment

The Engineers seeded planets with life to experiment and develop weapons. Once a civilization achieved a certain level of technological advancement, they would drop their bioweapon, the black goo, in this case, to test how effective it was. We know that besides Earth, the Engineers seeded life on Planet 4. It was all because they could experiment with humanoid life forms to see which ones would develop faster. According to this theory, it wasn’t that they wanted to destroy humanity. They just wanted to use humans in a bio-weapon experiment (which possessed the ability to destroy humankind).

Theory #2:There Were Two Opposing Factions Of The Engineers

This theory suggests that there were two groups of Engineers- creators who seeded the Earth with life and the others who rebelled against the creators. The rebels probably thought that another life form other than Engineers was unethical and therefore created Xenomorphs in secret as a weapon to use against the creators, who may have been protecting humans. The split in thinking probably led to a war between them. This theory could explain why the ship used by creators at the beginning of the movie was different from the Juggernauts used by the destroyers. It could also explain the difference in suits since creators do not have this bio-suit that seemingly merges the body. So just like humans, they likely had different groups with distinct notions and goals. 

Theory #3: The Engineers Considered Humans As A Threat

This theory proposes that the Engineers, as a species, felt that they needed to defend their supremacy in the universe. They never expected humans to come anywhere closer to their technology, but they had extended their reach beyond Earth and even started to consider themselves as superiors, as creators, and equal to the Engineers. A race that had developed enough science to be able to follow the clues and patterns that the Engineers had left, and then proceeded to travel to the planet LV-223 to discover more about the Engineers, was clearly a threat. It is why the Engineers were afraid that if the human race was left unchecked, humans might conquer the Engineer’s world in the future. So they planned to destroy the entire human race using a biological weapon. Hence, when the Engineer woke up, he did not attempt whatsoever to communicate with the humans and robot android but realized that the human bioweapon had extended its reach beyond Earth, and could not be contained. Therefore, he killed everyone within his vicinity, and his urgency to act after waking might be a product of wanting to destroy humanity before it got out of hand.

Now that we are done with explaining these legit theories, let us look at behind-the-scenes commentaries on this matter.

The Director’s Explanation

In his podcast with the Empire Magazine, Ridley Scott, the director of Prometheus, revealed a lot about this issue. His explanation is tied with the scene when the Engineer woke up. When Weyland tried to talk to the Engineer and Elizabeth interpreted him, he ordered his man to shoot her if she tried to speak again. Although the Engineer did not understand English, he realized that humans are violent and dangerous species. 

The Engineers As “Gardeners” 

Ridley Scott sees Engineers as “gardeners of space” who would occasionally visit an empty planet and plant the seeds of life. Having created life, they periodically visited those planets to see whether everything was fine. If they discovered that the creation had lost its way and proved to be a disappointment, they would wipe the planet clean of life and start all over again.

Whatever happened on LV-223 happened approximately 2000 years ago. The Engineers were loading up their ships with canisters and plotting a course for Earth. Clearly, the Engineers visited Earth many times after the creation and interacted with humans. So at one point, they were quite content with us. But something changed. What happened on Earth 2000 years ago that would anger our creator to the point that they decided to wipe us all together?

After observing that humankind on Earth had not developed the way the Engineers wanted, the Engineers decided to send their missionary, Jesus Christ, as the final attempt to guide humans on the right path. But humans derailed him, stoned him, and finally crucified the man who did nothing more than preach peace and love. So, the Engineers realized that seeding life on Earth was a mistake, and made a final decision, i.e. to destroy humankind and start afresh. It is why Scott referred to them as “gardeners of space”. In Ridley Scott’s words,

“If the planet went wrong, they would want to wipe it clean. But that could take 500 years. When they revisit because different visitors would come back and see we’re not doing so well they would look at these human beings that are jerks, that are killing the planet, killing themselves, can’t settle down, they’re like a bunch of children. We should wipe it clean.

It was why the Engineers wanted to destroy their creation. Only this time, the weapon intended to wipe humankind out turned on them and destroyed their species.

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