Character Study: David (android)


fassbender prometheus david

Name: David
Film or Book: Prometheus (2012)
Role: ambiguous/villain

Mild spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen the film and you’re one of these people who has to go in “fresh”, to borrow from Frank Costanza, come back to this entry after you have.

What I learned about characterization:

  • Like Ridley Scott’s other famous work featuring androids, Blade Runner in which they’re known as “replicants,” David’s morality is always a big question mark from the beginning. This questionable “is he evil or isn’t he?” motif runs throughout the film and leaves the audience guessing as to his true motivations and true allegiance because it shifts so much over the course of the film.
  • Robots and androids traditionally lack human qualities like emotions, but David demonstrates both “good” qualities (like trying to help the crew at the outset, and later on, Elizabeth Shaw), as well as “evil” and sinister undertones (like when he secretly communicates with people who are supposed to be dead, leading characters to danger deliberately, etc.)
  • His knowledge is boundless, but even when he learns new things and observes their effects (which he’s luckily immune to) the way he decides to use that newfound knowledge gives him dark edges that make him more frightening.
  • In his performance, Michael Fassbender gives the character shades of Hal from 2001: A Space Odyssey and hearkens to that “are we in control of the machines or are they in control of us?” element, which, when done right, is definitely disturbing.

Say what you will about the film (and I know it disappointed many people, but this is more to highlight David as opposed to the film, so there ;-)), but Fassbender brings a chilling sense of sinister overtones to the role of David that plays with the audience. I think that to some people, they have no doubt that he is one of the villains of the film (without question, he is absolutely an antagonist, providing an opposing force to the well being and survival of the team) and he definitely plays by his own rules while making it seem like he’s a friend to the crew of the ship, but ultimately it’s the moral ambiguity of the character that makes him a character that could be a total villain, partial villain, or in some alternative analyses, part hero.

prometheus david

Social Media Break Update: Still playing computer games some of the time (although not nearly as much as the first few days last week), still feeling pangs of occasional worry that I’m “missing out” on something, but I’m beginning to relish in not feeling the pressure and urges to keep up with what’s going on.