The new Predator movie will be the fifth entry in the series, but it’s in the franchise’s best interest that this reboot doesn’t look to the past.
The Predator franchise may have made its smartest move in years by ridding itself of its baggage and starting over; Dan Trachtenberg’s reboot has been announced as unattached to 2018’s The Predator.
The Predator movies began as a fun hybrid of the horror and action genres, but steadily found a larger audience. Despite their relatively humble beginnings, the predators have become some of the most iconic monsters in cinema. Comic books and spin-offs have dug deeper into Predator’s Yautja mythology and, in more recent years, there’s been a concentrated effort to bring the movie franchise back with a vengeance.
The last few movies in the Predator franchise have featured creative takes on Predator and attempted to tackle the property from fresh angles. These sequels aren’t without their merits, but they’ve highlighted a larger problem, which is a misunderstanding of what should be done with the Predator franchise. Shane Black’s The Predator from 2018 seemed like it would course correct the series, but only bogged down the future of Predator with its brash decisions and how it handled the titular creature. Yet another entry in the Predator franchise was announced in November 2020. The reboot is being helmed by 10 Cloverfield Lane’s Dan Trachtenberg, and it’s already off to a good start due to how it’s ignoring 2018’s The Predator.
Details have been scarce on the upcoming Predator reboot, but there’s word that it’s starting over in a way that’s especially drastic: it may be turning the clock back to the American Civl War. There’s a lot of potential in a story that takes the hunting skills and ideology of the Yautja and juxtaposes it with themes and tensions surrounding the Civil War. This already gives the property more depth than it’s had in the past, helps it become more socially relevant, and finds a setting that’s so far back in time that it doesn’t necessarily disrupt the other movies in the series. This mature, freer approach to the property is practically the opposite of what’s done in 2018’s The Predator.
The Predator‘s use of a suburban setting is a nice change of pace, but it sets up a convoluted future for the franchise. Not only is there an upgraded Predator who fights against its own kind, but the film ends with the introduction of new “Predator Killer” armor that allows humans to basically become Iron Man in their fight against the Yautja. All of this is shaky territory to incorporate into a new sequel. Previous Predator sequels pride themselves in their connections to the rest of the universe; even the Alien vs. Predator crossover movies add more to the independent canon of these properties.
The Predator goes too far in this department, not just with the nods to previous movies, but how it tries to reinvent the mythology for a new series of sequels. In that way, it’s too concerned with what’s ahead in potential sequels that it doesn’t put enough attention in simply making a good Predator movie. Trachtenberg’s approach looks to go back to the basics of Predator and get rid of anything extraneous. It’s a sequel that may have less Easter eggs and universe building than others, but it sounds like that’s exactly what Predator needs to reclaim its formerly terrifying glory.