Ridley Scott has made no secret of the fact that he's got plans to return to the Alien universe he helped found in 1979, but after this year's Alien: Covenant, he's rethinking exactly how he's going to approach that.
Covenant, the follow-up to 2012's Prometheus, arrived at a moderately good critical reception and a decent box office, as the franchise veered back toward a more traditional, horror-and-gore-driven direction. Scott was glad that he could get back to his old tricks, but as the franchise continues (and he insists it will continue) he's more interested in other threats.
“People say, ‘You need more alien, you need more face pulling, need more chest bursting,’ so I put a lot of that in Covenant and it fitted nicely," he told Entertainment Weekly. But I think if you go again you need to start finding another solution that’s more interesting."
So, what new threat is Scott refocusing the next film on? Artificial intelligence.
"I think AI is becoming much more dangerous and therefore more interesting," he said, and specifically cited previous characters in the Alien-verse (and one from his other sci-fi classic Blade Runner) as examples.
“Fassbender was an AI,” continues Scott. “Ian Holm [from Alien] was an AI; Roy Batty [from Blade Runner] was an AI; so was Rachael [from Blade Runner].”
Fassbender is a reference to Michael Fassbender, the actor who played the devious android David (and his more docile "brother" Walter) in Covenant. David's curiosity about the nature of life and his ability to manipulate it ultimately spelled doom for almost all of Covenant's crew, while David himself snuck aboard the ship impersonating Walter. With everyone in cryo-sleep, he also revealed that he'd smuggled several eggs containing his own genetically engineered aliens aboard. It's obvious those creatures will play some role in the next film, but David himself is the real mastermind. It's an interesting notion to keep returning to, particularly since Ian Holm's Ash in the original film also proved to be an android with a dark secret.
It's still not clear how soon we'll see this film (Scott has two more movies to make, at least, before then), but it's clear Scott's put quite a bit of thought into it.