There was a time when Boris Karloff’s Monster was a creature to be feared as well as pitied. Now Frankenstein’s monster masks are readily available in joke shops. The shark in Jaws made a legion of cinema-goers afraid of dipping a toe in the ocean, but its ferocious mystique gradually ebbed away through a trio of increasingly tawdry sequels.
This is the problem with movie monsters of all kinds; whether they’re from the depths of space (Alien) or flesh-eating psychologists from just down the road (Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter, Silence And The Lambs and so on), they have a tendency to lose their mystique over time. Such is the case with the Predator, the towering and indescribably cool alien big-game hunter introduced in the 1987 film of the same name. Okay, so he didn’t leave audiences cowering necessarily, but his debut – and even the underrated 1990 sequel – gave him a blood-curdling presence.
The Predator’s imposing physicality soon lost its impact in the disappointing Alien Vs Predator and its bloodier sequel, Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem – the latter diminishing the Predator still further by recasting him as a kind of intergalactic evidence cleaner, like Harvey Keitel’s Pulp Fiction character with extra mandibles.
Perhaps this is why, by the time Robert Rodriguez brought us Predators in 2010, even the sight of multiple giant aliens stalking humans around a jungle planet wasn’t quite enough to stir the blood. It was by no means a bad film, but it lacked the ferocity – and new ideas – that a 21st century Predator movie so badly needs.
For fans of cinema’s most lethal hunter, there’s good news: a new movie called The Predator is coming out in 2018. So what have we learned so far, and what would we like to see? Join us as we take a closer look.
The Predator: What We Currently Know
In one of the strangest connections to an earlier movie in geek cinema history, the new Predator movie will be directed by Shane Black – the screenwriter, filmmaker and actor who played Hawkins in the original Predator back in 1987.
How Black, then a budding screenwriter still in his 20s, came to be among a larger-than-life cast including Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jesse Ventura, and Carl Weathers is an odd story all by itself. Legend has it that Predator’s producer Joel Silver was keen to have a screenwriter on set to help with last minute script rewrites, and so Black – who’d just written the screenplay for Lethal Weapon, also produced by Silver – was duly hired as Hawkins so that he could hang around on-set.
Nearly 30 years later, and Black’s back as the guiding hand behind a new sci-fi sequel simply called The Predator. To make it, he’s turned to another familiar name from the 1980s – Fred Dekker, with whom he wrote the cult classic Monster Squad, which Dekker directed.
Dekker’s been vague yet enthusiastic about his hand in bringing back the Predator on Facebook, where he announced that the screenplay had been turned in last February, and further stoked the flames of speculation earlier this year when he wrote, “I cannot say where I was this morning, or what I saw, or what we talked about. But if you’re a Predator fan? One word: YES.”
Meanwhile, Black’s shared his own enthusiasm for The Predator, and reassuringly, perhaps, he’s made it clear that the film he’s making with Dekker is a sequel rather than a reboot. “Why start over when you’ve all this rich mythology yet to mine?” was how he put it to Collider. Instead, Black prefers to term The Predator as an “imaginative sequel” that explores and expands the “existing Predator mythology, rather than hitting the restart button.”
The Predator’s producer is John Davis, who also has an important to the original movie: he was another of its producers, along with Lawrence Gordon and Joel Silver. While Davis is hardly going to speak ill of his own movie project, he’s certainly excited about The Predator’s prospects so far:
I’ve read a lot of his script and I think it’s genius,” Davis told Collider. “I think it’s genius and I think it’s entertaining, and what it did is recreate a famous franchise in a different, interesting way; looking at it from a different light.”
Davis even goes so far as to say that The Predator isn’t just a sequel, but a reinvention – a movie that will take the Predator franchise in a new, unexected direction.
“I’m telling you you’re going to get something you don’t expect and you’re going to say, ‘This is the most entertaining way to reinvent a franchise.’ I mean he’s the guy who wrote Iron Man 3.”
The Predator Rumors, Speculation, What We’d Like to See
Reinvention. An imaginative sequel. The unexpected. They’re all exciting words, but what do they mean in the context of the Predator franchise? After all, they have a simple idea at their core: what happens when human beings – the creatures at the top of the food chain on planet Earth – are suddenly targeted by an unfeasibly powerful, well-equipped alien hunter?
Previous movies and spinoffs have taken us all over the place, from the steaming jungles of Central America to the broiling heat of Los Angeles to the icy cold of Antarctica and back into a leafy jungle again for 2010‘s Predators.
There have been a number of suggestions and rumors swirling around the setting for the new Predator film. One of the obvious choices for Black and Dekker (a great name for a filmmaker pairing if we ever heard one) is that it will take place on the same green alien planet as Robert Rodriguez’s Predators; that film certainly left plenty of threads for a sequel, though it remains to be seen whether Black would want his story to pick up directly from that film or to base it elsewhere in the same Predator universe.
It would certainly make more sense if The Predator introduced an all-new setting and cast of characters; not only would this give Black the chance to try a fresh approach, but also avoid the pitfalls of being too reverential to the 1987 original. Black’s chosen title, The Predator, implies that we’re going to go back to having one, deadly predator rather than the small detchment of hunters we got in Rodriguez’s film, which implies that the ending of that film – which saw Adrien Brody’s mercenary speculating that more Predators were coming their way – will be quietly put aside.
Given that Predator movies aren’t particularly big-budget affairs, we’re willing to hazard a guess that Dekker’s script doesn’t won’t place on some sort of exotic alien world – which rules out the possibility of the Predator’s home planet, last briefly seen in Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem.
So where does that leave us? A post on AVPGalaxy has all sorts of suggestions, from theatres of war both past and present – Afghanistan and Vietnam are two ideas that stand out. Afghanistan was an idea pitched for the sequel to Alien Vs Predator sequel that ultimately went unused, while the latter was the war that Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Dutch fought in with Dillon (Weathers) when he was still a young soldier.
Another idea comes from screenwriter Sam Park, and his unfilmed script Predator 3: The Deadlier Of The Species, in which Dutch and the Predator do battle in a snow-bound New York. If we had to choose one scenario out of all these as the most likely, it may well be the winter Manhattan one; first, because it could give us some really striking imagery (blood in the snow, Predator crouching on city rooftops as he did in Predator 2), and secondly because Black has a tendency to set all his films at Christmas…
At any rate, it’s worth returning to the old Predator movie formula for a moment. The Predator is a hunter who stalks worthy human opponents for sport. So who will he be hunting this time around? Again, we can only speculate for now; a starring role for Arnold Schwarzenegger is looking increasingly less likely given the middling box-office of his last few films, though we wouldn’t rule out a cameo in The Predator (Schwarzenegger was supposed to appear in Predators with Danny Glover at one point, but the scene was never filmed).
Whoever Black winds up casting for The Predator, they need to have the color and personality of the cast in the original Predator. You couldn’t have described them as the kind of ordinary people you’d bump into at the bus stop, but you could immediately tell them apart, and their lines were immediately quotable (“I ain’t got time to bleed!”). Whether they’re ex-wrestlers, thespians, A-listers or unknowns, the movie needs a group of actors who can make their characters something more than tough, one-dimensional warriors.
Lastly, we come back to the Predator himself, because it’s here that the film’s success also hinges. We can imagine all sorts of things from Black’s treatment of the franchise – dry, terse humor, plenty of action, perhaps a hint of the hard-boiled thriller genre, which he loves so much – but we’re hoping most of all he can bring back a sense of mystery to the Predator. We’ve heard that the franchise will go somewhere unexpected this time. Could this mean that the Predator will have a subtly different motivation this time around, other than collecting trophies for his alien hunting lodge?
Whatever Dekker introduces, the Predator arguably needs to have his mystique restored. The Predator should be barely glimpsed; imposing, powerful, a heavily-armed force of nature.
The Predator Release Date
Well, here’s one bit we do know for sure. Fred Dekker recently confirmed that The Predator is due out on the 2nd March 2018. Cinema’s coolest alien hunter is less than two years away from his grand return.