The Predator has been a fixture of pop culture since John McTiernan’s 1987 survival horror bonanza PREDATOR hit the big screen. In the 30 years to pass since the flick’s arrival, a myriad of PREDATOR projects have landed on big screens, retail shelves and filled warehouses before eventual homes. This beastly spinal column collecting monstrosity has been featured in nearly 30 high profile story arcs in comic book form, there are PREDATOR toys, apparel, high-end collectibles… hell, there are even multiple video games out there featuring our favorite killer chameleon. He’s a certified Hollywood success story, and Shane Black, who actually appeared in the original PREDATOR movie, is gearing up to once more join forces with the awesome Fred Dekker (who also made MONSTER SQUAD and NIGHT OF THE CREEPS) to co-write and direct a brand new film in the franchise.
What better way could we show our support than to a lengthy look at the titular monster, past, present and future?
This brute of alarming longevity has been popping up on PCs and consoles since 1987 when he debuted on a number of different gaming platforms as a promotional companion to the picture. The Predator really hasn’t shown much sign of slowing in the years since.
PREDATOR 2 made Sega a nice chunk of change, appearing on Master System, Game Gear and the extremely popular Sega Genesis. It wasn’t a unanimously loved title, but it was the first major step in kicking down the gaming door, so to speak.
ALIEN VS PREDATOR was a winner among fans, and it gave Nintendo faithfuls a chance to experience the Predator in a refined and enjoyable game on one of the more beloved systems history has offered us, the Super Nintendo. That was back in ’93, and if fans hadn’t gotten enough on the SNES, or they wanted more combat on a mobile device, they had the option to pick up ALIEN VS PREDATOR: THE LAST OF HIS CLAN just two months later when it debuted on the Nintendo Gameboy.
Home-based systems weren’t the only systems to make the Predator accessible to gaming fans on a large international scale when the successful arcade rendition of ALIEN VS. PREDATOR arrived to welcoming arms in May of ‘94.
The Predator took a hiatus from the gaming world for a few years, but inevitably made an incredibly triumphant return in the early-2000s. 2001 saw ALIEN VERSUS PREDATOR 2 gain a following on PC. One year later we got the PC follow-up, ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR 2: PRIMAL HUNT, and just a year after that ALIENS VERSUS PREDATOR: EXTINCTION impressed on the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.
ALIEN VS. PREDATOR even hit mobiles in 2004.
Both PlayStation 2 and Xbox again scored with PREDATOR: CONCRETE JUNGLE, and although there were some complaints – primarily about gameplay – the title did sell relatively well. The Predator, though not as imposing, was beginning to look like a gaming draw, and the franchise has only grown in the years since CONCRETE JUNGLE’s release. More arcade games followed, and the Predator would continue to tangle with the Aliens to solid success.
We’ve seen so many mobile and online Predator games that keeping track of the titles can become challenging. However, we can tell you that recent Predator games have surfaced on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. Another solo title – no Aliens required for this one – was released for the iPhone back in 2010, as well. It may not be a consistent chart topper, but the Predator has enjoyed success in the game scene, especially when these tough bastards battle the baddies that bleed acid.
Outside of film there is no other medium that’s proven as embracing to the Predator than comic books and graphic novels. Dark Horse Comics have been publishing so many exceptional PREDATOR books (for decades now) that keeping track of the standout storylines has actually become a little bit challenging. Fortunately for those looking for a few good recommendations, I’m an uber comic geek, so I’ve read (to my knowledge) every PREDATOR book to be released. If you want some amazing action and chilling horror in four color format, try looking into the following stories – even if you can’t find a physical copy of these tales, chances are fair you can purchase digital copies.
PREDATOR: CONCRETE JUNGLE (1989)
Not to be confused with the game release of the same title, PREDATOR: CONCRETE JUNGLE marks the first comic adventure of the Predator, and it’s a pretty good story that often feels inspired by the film (for the record there was a two-issue adaptation of the sequel), PREDATOR 2, although this story heads in a completely unique direction which makes for an awesome surprise for fans of the franchise.
PREDATOR: THE BLOODY SANDS OF TIME (1992)
THE BLOODY SANDS OF TIME is kind of like a retrospective study of the Predator, written by a man who has had plenty of first-hand experience with the stealth monster. It’s been years since I jumped into this story, but it’s managed to stick with me. Dan Barry does a fine job of crafting a standout piece, and the fact that he splits artistic duties with Chris Warner is both interesting and admirable. It’s obvious that Barry had no fear of a heavy workload and that both Barry and Warner are extremely talented artists.
PREDATOR: RACE WAR (1993)
Even in my youth, I could feel the importance of this book. A story that brings extreme racists of both black and white skin tone together to combat the titular menace, RACE WAR is one of the books that makes a positive societal statement, and while that may have gone undetected by younger readers, the more advanced not only caught it, they probably unanimously appreciated it. In a world that spins as fast as ours, there should be little time for racism, and that ideology is pronounced in this story.
PREDATOR: 1718 (1996)
A rare one-shot, PREDATOR: 1718 tells an awesome story of how the Predator in PREDATOR 2 got his hands on that old flintlock pistol. I’m all about comics that directly tie into films and successfully build upon certain aspects of cinematic details. 1718 more than succeeds in doing just that. It’s another tough one to unearth, but it was re-released in the second PREDATOR OMNIBUS collection.
This is a great story, especially if you got a big kick out of Nimród Antal’s 2010 reboot of the same title. The book serves as a prequel to the film, and we essentially get the same story, but it actually works quite well. Don’t pick up the book hoping for an innovative narrative, rather, pick it up because you enjoyed the direction that the film took.
Movies and Their Rankings
ALIEN VS PREDATOR: REQUIEM
The second crossover movie of the franchise had a ton of potential, but apparently things weren’t gelling as well as they could have behind the scenes. What might have rivaled some of the all-time great monster meet-ups almost immediately becomes a study in human patience and a challenge to defy darkness. You just can’t see much of the action. The image is too dark. It’s so dark that the screen actually seems to go pitch black for seconds at a time. It’s like a “rough edit” on pause, and it killed our chances of receiving something possibly special.
ALIEN VS PREDATOR
I’m one of the few that loves AVP. It’s a perfect cruise control flick. You can hit the off button on your brain, and let a bunch of silly action take you to a different oasis. It feels like classic a Universal monster mash-up, and I’m good with that. I don’t need a perfect script from my PREDATOR flicks, I just need to have a blast while I’m watching them. AVP provides that brainless last of fun.
PREDATOR 2 never should have worked. It’s just so damn different! But it does work! While not as enjoyable as the inaugural franchise piece, it has a lot of killer moments that are hard not to love. The Predator always feels a little out of place in a large metropolis, but on the flip side that ends up giving us a few classic sequences. It doesn’t get much better than Gary Busey tracking a Predator in a meat warehouse.
When PREDATORS was announced, a wave of trepidation swept over me. Fast forward a year or so, and I found myself extremely surprised. As it turns out, Nimród Antal’s a solid filmmaker and a new rebooted rendition of the story with a lack of Arnold Schwarzenegger participation isn’t an automatic curse. Adrien Brody did an excellent job of fronting the film, and the remainder of the hunted also shine. And let’s not pretend the Predators themselves didn’t look brutal as shit. PREDATORS is no doubt the best PREDATOR flick to come along since McTiernan’s original treasure.
Action was never better than in the 1980s, and Arnold Schwarzenegger had never been so loved. PREDATOR is a big part of the reason behind that. Ranking right up there with COMMANDO and TERMINATOR, it’s successful in thrilling viewers from the first scene to the last. The flick also birthed one of today’s most recognizable movie monsters that’s obviously gone on to inspire a full-fledged franchise that’s consistently impressed in multiple mediums. This is where it all started, and that’s because PREDATOR is one of those rare flicks that gets it all right. From the cast to the script, the characters both human and not, PREDATOR doesn’t miss a beat.