I have a very special place in my heart for The Predator. It was the first rated-R movie I ever saw, and I watched it in a hotel room on a family road trip when I was maybe 6 or 7. The whole movie I kept saying that I wanted to see the alien’s face, and then when the big reveal came, I gasped. My mother was hovering, waiting for me to freak out, but I just bounced up and down with excitement, and said, “I want one!”
That probably tells you everything you need to know about me as a person, right there.
While I’ve re-watched this film several times, and still enjoy it quite a lot, I can’t help but feel that the brand has fallen far from its sci-fi slasher roots. And, perhaps an even greater sin, the movies have done almost nothing with the sheer potential of hyper-advanced alien hunters who have treated Earth like their own personal game preserve for thousands of years.
What would I do to fix that? Well, I’m glad you asked, because here are five suggestions I think would make way better Predator movies than what we’ve gotten out of the most recent attempts at continuing the brand.
Also, if you enjoy this, then you might also get a kick out of an older piece of mine, 5 ‘The Purge’ Movies They Should Make Next.
#1 Predator: Beowulf
We all know the story of Beowulf. When the troll Grendel assaults the mead hall of King Hrothgar, the great hero Beowulf comes to fight it. He tears off Grendel’s arm in single combat, and the troll is supposedly slain. Then Beowulf has to stand before Grendel’s mother, who is even larger and more fearsome than her son. Victorious, he is named a great hero, and even brings back treasures from their cavern to prove his prowess.
We’ve seen this story on the big screen before… be we haven’t seen it done with Predators.
Think about it. What would a bunch of filthy geats think one of these alien hunters was, if not a troll? It vanishes into thin air, it’s huge, impossibly strong, has glowing blood, and strange weapons that can’t be anything other than magic. Grendel, in this scenario, would make an ideal young buck proving that he has the right to stand among the hunters, even if he’s playing the galactic equivalent of putt putt in going after Viking-age humans.
Until he screws up, and one of them takes his arm.
Crippled, he returns to his ship hidden in a nearby lake. He tends his wounds, but his mother (who couldn’t let her boy go out alone) is incensed. But then the warrior who did this thing swims into the lake to finish what he started. The sheer gaul! A huge fight scene ensues, with Beowulf perhaps taking a Pred-sword off the wall, and in the end, he’s declared worthy enough to live. Grendel and his mother fly off for the season, and our Great Dane is left to explain to his countrymen just what the hell happened.
#2 Predator: Crusade
We all know that, as a species, Predators tend to prefer hot zones where there’s a lot of conflict to mask their hunting (and maybe to add a bit of spice to the trek). And where will you find a hotter conflict than during one of the most bitter holy wars in human history, the Crusades?
Which specific crusade this is set during could vary, but my personal preference is during the first one so as to make the best use of the culture clash that was also taking place. Two different worlds coming together, both fighting fiercely for what they believe beneath the baking sun, watering the desert with each other’s blood. But when atrocities are found (bodies skinned, heads taken, and men hung to dry like slaughtered cattle), each side blames the other. It’s only when two groups of elite warriors are attacked together that they realize neither side is responsible for this slaughter… and that if they want to survive, they must stand together.
For added fun, you could include bits of mythology about the djinn, and about obscure devils, showing that these two forces do truly have a common enemy. Probably have one or two of them survive to tell the tale, but no one really believes them.
#3 Predator: Bushido
Japan has had its share of bloody conflicts, but we don’t get a lot about the uprising that happened during their push for modernization. Particularly when the old guard of the samurai rebelled to try and preserve the society they were more comfortable with. We saw some of this period with Tom Cruise in The Last Samurai, but there’s so much more potential for it as a Predator vehicle.
Picture this; Japan is bent on full modernization. Its soldiers, its weapons, its tactics, absolutely everything has been upgraded and made more efficient. The samurai who have been resisting these changes are in open revolt, and have to be dealt with. When soldiers find bodies of their comrades cut to pieces and skinned, many of them with their skulls put on display, they think it’s some barbaric display meant to frighten them. The samurai, though, know what this creature is. They have legends of the oni going back centuries, and the ones who hunt can be beaten… but not with mortal steel.
That’s when we reveal that certain weapons have been salvaged from past conflicts. Weapons that the samurai are trained to use, but which the more modern soldiers lack the skills to master. The duel with the Predator becomes skill against skill, but just as it looks like our hero is going to win, he’s shot to death by army regulars. The Predator fades away, unseen by the troops who are left to puzzle out what kind of battle took place here.
#4 Predator: Civil War
While the gray versus the blue feels like some ancient conflict, the American Civil War was one of the nastiest, bloodiest wars that we’d fought at the time. Technology was changing rapidly, and death was blooming in totally new ways. And the deeper into the South, the worse it seemed to get.
Imagine finding a plantation destroyed, bodies everywhere. There’s one survivor, a wide-eyed slave who was chained up and unable to fight or run. He’s half-mad with thirst and hunger, but he talks about how the night came alive. Something killed a bunch of rebels, and anyone who raised a hand to it was slaughtered. Or you could flip it around, and make it a technologically-superior group of Union fighters who were wiped out, leaving a bunch of rebel soldiers who are shocked at the carnage. Either way, the point is that there’s a Predator stoking conflict, and leaving gruesome scenes that each side is interpreting as brutality committed by the other.
How do our protagonists survive? Do they survive? Who knows, but we’ve got a lot of battlefields and famous locations to choose from for this one, as well as a lot of brutal war-time innovations from the period that could make an appearance.
#5 Predator: Armageddon
Everyone knows the Mayan calendar was counting down to something… but what?
Like most of the others on this list, the idea is that we track historical Predator trips to Earth. However, for this one we look at the Mayan culture, and ask what if some of the answers to our questions about them really is “Because aliens, that’s why“.
Perhaps the film is set during a festival where prisoners and sacrifices are turned loose into the jungle for the Predators to hunt. They’re harassed by warriors, making sure they go into the designated killing grounds, turning it into a kind of Running Man, but a few hundred years ago.
While you could have your noble warrior who pulls an Arnold in this one, it would work far better as a chase-style horror movie. You have to out-stealth and out-smart the Predators, treating it like a game. A game no one ever wins, until one of the sacrifices makes it across a finish line. The sacrifice thinks they’re going to die anyway when the Predators emerge from the jungle, but instead they mark our protagonist, and give them a gift. When our protagonist returns the next day, they’re met with deference, and given a new rank according to their station. We end with a new calendar being drawn up, showing when the Predators will visit once again.