There have been precious few leaks from the set of Ridley Scott’s Alien Covenant, beyond the odd photo or a throwaway revelation from one of the cast members. But when you’re dealing with a filmmaker as detail-obsessed as Scott, sometimes the smallest thing will pay big dividends. Take this picture of Covenant’s effects crew Odd Studio posing with cast member Danny McBride: if you look carefully at McBride’s outfit and the hat on the bespectacled gentleman on the right, you’ll notice the Weyland-Yutani corporate logo from the original Alien.
Most Alien fans are familiar with the Weyland-Yutani logo from Aliens, featuring an interlocking W and Y; also appears in a slightly modified version in Alien 3, and countless media. But it’s not the original company insignia, which was created by costume designer John Mollo back in 1978. (He also worked on Star Wars, devising the iconic Rebel and Imperial logos, as well as the very Alien-esque Outland.)
There are a number of variants of it, all of them based off the winged sun disc motif. If you watch the movie closely, especially in HD, you’ll notice it everywhere: on uniforms, spacesuits, consoles, coffee cups, beer cans, even Jones’s catbox. (It also appears infrequently in the Alien Isolation video game.) It’s actually much more ubiquitous than the Nostromo patch seen on the crew’s shoulders and Brett’s famous baseball cap. (The Weyland logo in Prometheus is also all over the place, though it’s a different design.) The insignia on McBride’s clothing (it’s his costume from the movie) and the cap worn by the bespectacled gentleman on the right is practically identical to the one in Alien. (There’s a patch of a xenomorph stuck to the middle of the wings, though presumably that’s not company issue.)
Weylan [sic]-Yutani Aspen Beer. (Cameron added the “D” in his script for Aliens.) I bet McBride’s character downs his share of these.
So what does this tell us about Alien Covenant? A lot, actually. For one, the setting is closer to the time frame of the first movie, which means that it’s a lot less likely that Katherine Waterston’s character is Ripley’s mother (although I imagine with cryosleep and FTL anything’s possible). But it also suggests a very different company from the posh Weyland Industries in Prometheus — more pragmatic, more blue collar, closer to the space truckers of Alien than the polished corporate execs and freelancers in the 2012 prequel. It’s pretty hard to imagine McBride’s character rubbing elbows with the likes of Fassbinder and Theron.
It also suggests that Scott is keeping in line with the themes established in Prometheus and implied in Alien. The winged sun disc is an ancient symbol of divinity, originating in Ancient Egypt around the 26th Century BCE, associated with Horus, representing knowledge, power, and immortality. That pretty much describes the Engineers. And Scott often uses Egyptian motifs in his movies to signify hubristic, fascist regimes in danger of falling into chaos; see also the Tyrell Corporation in Blade Runner, or Pharonic Egypt itself in Exodus: Gods and Kings. So it’s likely that Alien Covenant will involve another encounter between the dead or decrepit culture of the Engineers and the corrupt, avaricious culture of Weyland-Yutani, with hapless humans (and androids) trapped in the crossfire.
Also, I need to get me one of those t-shirts.