It’s a given that the first Predator film is the most iconic of the series and has set the template for the titular alien (in the lore they are named, Yautja). Not one of the 1987 classic’s sequels (with the exception of Prey) have managed to match it. Not just in terms of the individual film’s quality, but their presentation of the Yuatja themselves. Let’s look at all the representations in release order and find out what each of the sequels get right and wrong about their hunters.
This movie is easily one of the worst in the series. However, its depiction of the Predator is not bad at all. We get a big expansion of the Predator’s arsenal including the combistick and the smart disc. We also get to understand their strict Yautja Honour Code that was only hinted at during the first film (when it doesn’t kill Anna because she is unarmed). A lot of elements that this film introduces have become staples in later iterations and that’s no mean feat.
All of this is expanded upon in the comics, but we aren’t going there today. We could talk about the Xenomorph Drone skull we see in their ship as well, but we don’t have time for either.
The “City Hunter,” as this Predator has been named, was pretty overzealous in its hunt. It wasn’t very stealthy and almost everyone knew he was in the city almost as soon as he started hunting. Not quite the sleek hunter from the first film, more like an active combatant in the gang war. Whether that’s a by-product of the film being set in a city or it’s just the Predator getting overconfident is a matter of debate. If it was made clear that this was a deliberate choice of a young hunter, then this would improve its depiction, but considering that’s only made clear in content made after the film, it’s a point against it.
This is a good expansion of the Predator even if it isn’t in a very good film.
Alien Vs. Predator (2004)
Right from the word go, you can see that these Yautja are very bulky. They look like big wrestlers instead of the long and slender hunters we saw in the previous films. This was due to a new team from Amalgamated Dynamics, Inc. (ADI) creating the special effects. Because this was essentially an adaptation of a comic book, the team wanted the Predators to have more heroic proportions, hence the wider shoulders, narrow waists, and smaller heads.
That’s really the biggest gripe with these Yautja, it’s merely their proportions. They also felt weaker and dumber than previously seen. This can be explained within the lore as the three Predators are “Young Bloods” and haven’t completed their initiation into adulthood, so they are inexperienced. This is a justification after the fact, much like Predator 2, and so it’s hard to excuse it.
We did get the shuriken though and that, personally, is cooler than the smart disc from its predecessor.
Whether or not this is canon, I’m not sure, but assuming it is, it feels strange that the Yautja have remained stagnant with their technology for thousands of years. Especially that Prey is out, we can see that they may have missed an opportunity here to show-off Predator “retro-tech.”
This Predator takes heavy inspiration from the City Hunter. We’re back to the lean and athletic body type thankfully. It has really cool design choices that adds to the character of “Wolf” (if only we could see them clearly in this very darkly shot film – seriously, who did this?).
Wolf has part of his mandible eaten away by xenomorph blood and is blind in one eye. This is an homage to “Broken Tusk” from the comics so that’s fun. He’s an experienced hunter who has to clean the mess left over by the previous film. That part is all well and good. But he is terrible at cleaning up the mess. He leaves a skinned cop out in the open (not very stealth), he also shoots his plasmacanon all over the place initially releasing the xenomorphs from the sewer and then knocking out power to the town. So unfortunately, he’s just as dumb as the previous films Predators were.
It’s Wolf’s behaviour rather than his design that people have issue with. People were far madder about the xenomorphs in AVP: Requiem than they were about the Predator (which is the reverse of AVP).
Not a bad looking Predator, but a stupid one that doesn’t even have the excuse of being a rookie that the first AVP film had.
We get Super Predators in this one and their lore is far more interesting than what is presented in the film. A lot of the interesting things about them are only inferred or barely mentioned so there’s a lot of gaps being filled in by other media.
The interesting aspects of their lore was as director Robert Rodriguez explained was just an aspect that the was put in the movie to “test out the market.” He added that “They [the studio] didn’t want to put too many of the ideas into it that we could save for a second one.”
This movie does more right than it does wrong. These are different Predators who are likely “Bad Blood,” meaning that they have broken the Yuatja Honour Code. That’s why they’re so vicious and don’t play as fair as previous Predators. Removing your armour and weapons for one-on-one hand-to-hand combat has been prevalent in the whole series up to this point, but during the swordfight, “Falconer” doesn’t remove any armour, including his bio-helmet.
The Super Predators being “Bad Blood” also explains why they’ve got a “Jungle Hunter” tied up and the line hinting at a blood feud also makes more contextual sense this way.
Their bio-helmet designs are awesome. The inclusion of bones on their helmets is a nice barbaric touch to show that these are not regular Yautja. What isn’t so great is their single wrist blades – just feels like a change for changes sake, but that’s minor.
What isn’t so minor is their face design which has too much is going on with all the ridges and scales. However, with the helmet on, it’s great. You can see that Howard Berger, who did the special effects with Stan Winston on the original, was here – it’s very faithful to the original with enough changes to make it exciting.
There’s two Yautja in this one. A regular one that feels in keeping with the original – nothing to really say about him – and the “Upgraded Predator.” The Upgraded Predator feels… wrong. It builds on what Predators introduced with the Yautja finding new prey in order to improve their own skills and dials it up to 11.
Instead of improving their hunting tactics or technology, they just upgrade themselves using genetic hybridisation. That doesn’t feel in keeping with what we know of the Yautja. You could argue that the hybridisation is a use of their improving technology, but the result is that the Upgraded Predator doesn’t feel much like a Predator anymore. It’s clearly still intelligent and all that stuff but it feels like a berserker or an animal in how it approaches things because it basically can’t be touched. It does feel like an alien (that’s good), but it doesn’t feel like a Predator.
Audiences probably felt the same given that the movie didn’t do well with audiences or critics and any planned sequels seem to have been scrapped.
This is a fantastically new yet similar take on the Predator. Ignoring any canon set by the AVP films, Prey depicts a Predator on Earth for the very first time. You get great scenes of it moving up the food chain, figuring out which creatures are worthy prey eventually landing on humans.
Its tech is new and yet old. The idea that the Yautja have been developing over hundreds of years as well as us is more interesting than if they were technologically stagnant for what could be thousands of years.
The way it moves and the way it looks is a little different, which explains the name “Feral Predator.” It is feral, but still honourable as we see in the film.
The face design is a little different but not so busy like the Super Predators in Predators. It feels like the same species just slightly different. Theories so far have put this Predator in a separate clan to any others we have seen so far. It extends to the idea that Predators from differing clans will also look physically different.
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