Ever since it was announced that Prometheus would be a standalone sci-fi film and not the planned Alien prequel, there has been confusion and conflicting reports. When first announced, Ridley Scott told Deadline:

While Alien was indeed the jumping off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place. The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative. I couldn't be more pleased to have found the singular tale I'd been searching for, and finally return to this genre that's so close to my heart.”

Many news outlets took this news as Ridley Scott abandoning the Alien prequel project and creating a brand new sci-fi film, but that bit about “strands of Alien’s DNS” really stood out to some, including myself. Had this been the first announcement of a Ridley Scott sci-fi project, I may have taken the story at face value, but he’s been working on this Alien prequel project for over 2 years now. This had been referred to by numerous sources as an Alien prequel up until last fall, so the idea of Ridley Scott and Fox abandoning their plans after all this time to take a gamble on a new sci-fi story seemed odd.It was only in July of last year that Damon Lindelof (Lost) was brought in to re-work the script with Ridley Scott. Apparently, Fox was unhappy with the proposed budget and brought in Lindelof to tweak the script to lower the film’s budget and make it PG-13. During this time, the Alien prequel morphed into what is now Prometheus, but everything I’ve read leads me to believe that we’re basically getting the same movie and that distancing this film from the Alien name was done to keep the Alien fanbase happy and give Ridley Scott additional creative freedom.

A number of stories popped up last month that appear to confirm that Prometheus is still tied to the Alien universe, including an interview with one of Prometheus’ lead actors. Recently, Michael Fassbender answered "Oh, absolutely. There's a definite connecting vein," when asked whether or not Prometheus was connected to the Alien movies. Watch the interview and you can see that there really doesn’t seem to be a question in his mind that this is not an Alien film.

Sky also ran a story that the space jockey will be in Prometheus as an 8 foot tall animatronic. If that’s the case, this just doesn’t have figurative strands of Alien DNA, but has actual ties to what we’ve seen in the first film:

The mysterious ‘space jockey’ skeleton that appeared in the opening scenes of Alien is being designed as an eight-foot animatronic for the sci-fi thriller Prometheus.

An insider revealed to Sky Movies that the character is being designed under the guidance of original Alien designer HR Giger.

But while Scott and Lindelof attempt to distance their project from the Alien franchise, it seems the ‘Space Jockey’ will appear, alive and kicking, in the movie.”

So if all of this is true, why are Fox and Ridley Scott shying away from calling this an Alien prequel, and does it really matter to fans of the series?

For the last couple of years, we’ve known that the focus of this movie wasn’t going to be on the “xenomorph” creature, but on the “Space Jockey” race. For those unaware, the “Space Jockey” refers to that alien creature whose remains were discovered in the alien ship on LV426 in the first Alien film (*see screen above) and “xenomorph” refers to the chestbursting alien creature that everyone knows. Ridley Scott has said in multiple past interviews that the Alien prequel would focus on the story behind the “Space Jockey”:

Ridley Scott Interview (MTV News): “It's set in 2085, about 30 years before Sigourney [Weaver's character Ellen Ripley]. It's fundamentally about going out to find out 'Who the hell was that Space Jockey?' The guy who was sitting in the chair in the alien vehicle — there was a giant fellow sitting in a seat on what looked to be either a piece of technology or an astronomer's chair. Remember that?

I'm basically explaining who that Space Jockey — we call him the Space Jockey — I'm explaining who the space jockeys were…. [The film] is about the discussion of terraforming — taking planets and planetoids and balls of earth and trying to terraform, seed them with the possibilities of future life.”

If the plan has always been to focus on the “Space Jockey” race, removing or changing the “xenomorph” creature was a minor change. With the “Space Jockey” being the primary focus, a title change makes sense. If you think about it, how happy would most moviegoers be with Fox and Ridley Scott marketing this as an Alien film to you if it really had nothing to do with the Alien creature? How many casual sci-fi fans even remember what the “Space Jockey” is? How happy would most Alien fans be with a PG-13 film?

With the title change, this film can be watched as a standalone film and judged on its own merits. Ridley Scott also gets additional creative freedom to make changes and deviate from Alien canon established over the films he was not involved in. I don’t blame him from wanting to create a little distance after the release of Alien: Resurrection and the Aliens vs Predator films. The fear of the aliens you had in the first two films no longer exists and my hope is that he’s trying to deviate from the standard creature designs in order to make the alien scary again.

As for the rating, PG-13 cuts out much of what fans of the Alien series come to expect, including chestbursters and bloody alien attacks. While I’m less opposed to a PG-13 movie from a great director, everyone knows how vocal the online community is when it comes down to popular franchises being dumbed down for a lesser rating.

Without calling this an “Alien” movie, the amount of pressure it would have received from the Alien fan base is diminished. If this is a hit, it is a great movie and fans can still consider it a film that takes place in the Alien universe. If not, it isn’t like it ties directly to the “xenomorph” aliens and can be ignored.

We don’t know what the final film will look like, but if Ridley Scott is sticking very close to the "Space Jockey" design, I’m curious about how close other elements will follow the original Giger designs, the look of the interior of the Nostromo, and other pieces of the Alien universe. Will we get a glimpse of the creation of the “xenomorph” aliens? H.R Giger was reportedly going to be working on this film. Is he still going to assist on the designs? Will we see this crew on a Weyland ship?

Regardless of how closely this ties into Alien, getting any new science fiction film from the director of Alien and Blade Runner is fantastic. We’ve been waiting over 25 years to see him get back to science fiction and I’m happy with where Prometheus is headed. And for those Alien fans who are on the fence, let’s face it… absolutely anything Ridley Scott puts together will be far better than the last Aliens vs Predator film.