Take a look at what happens next:
Our space travellers see beings making stone tools; they see them hunting and killing game with throwing spears; flocks of sheep and goats are grazing on the steppe; primitive potters are making simple household utensils. A strange sight to greet our astronauts!
But what do the primitive beings on this planet think about the monstrosity that has just landed there and the figures that climbed out of it? Let us not forget that we too were semi-savages 8,000 years ago. So it is not surprising when the semi-savages who experience this event bury their faces in the ground and dare not raise their eyes. Until this day they have worshipped the sun and the moon. And now something earthshaking has happened: the gods have come down from heaven! […] Undoubtedly our astronauts must seem like almighty gods to these primitive people!
What is interesting, though, is that the Uncle Scrooge version makes quite plain (though somewhat incorrectly) the direct inspiration for assuming that Native people would mistake space travelers for deities: the myth, recorded by Spanish missionaries, that the Native peoples of Mexico mistook the Conquistadors for their returning white gods. This is the same myth that, in another form, informed the diffusionist claim that white men had long ago colonized the Americas and given the continent its civilization, Christianity, and/or Templar-Freemason secrets. That story was invented in the 1530s and 1540s by the first generation of Spanish historians of the New World. It was based on a fake speech Cortés assigned to Montezuma, and expanded upon by Bernardino de Sahagún and the Franciscan historians.
While that may have been the origin point for the modern trope, it is not the starting point for the story. The Spanish missionaries came to the New World steeped in the Bible and therefore expected that in the New World they would find echoes of the Old. They already believed themselves to be the equivalent of the Apostles—writers like Diego Durán and Toribio de Benavente believed St. Thomas or another Apostle visited Mexico and Peru 1500 years earlier—and they imagined themselves to be treated like them. Therefore, it is no surprise that they cast the arrival of the Catholic Spanish in terms familiar from Acts 14:
11 Now when the people saw what Paul had done, they raised their voices, saying in the Lycaonian language, “The gods have come down to us in the likeness of men!” 12 And Barnabas they called Zeus, and Paul, Hermes, because he was the chief speaker. 13 Then the priest of Zeus, whose temple was in front of their city, brought oxen and garlands to the gates, intending to sacrifice with the multitudes. 14 But when the apostles Barnabas and Paul heard this, they tore their clothes and ran in among the multitude, crying out 15 and saying, “Men, why are you doing these things? We also are men…”
In all of these cases, however, the literary purpose of such narratives is clear: They paint the Natives as primitive, naïve, credulous, and a little stupid. They also serve to glorify the conquerors as the opposite. The ancient astronaut theory therefore has the unintended consequence of making all humans look stupid, which is perhaps why so many modifications of it attempt to set aside a subset of humans, typically elite white males, who understand the truth and actively conspire with the aliens while everyone else stumbles about in blindness.