predator is one of the most iconic movie franchises of all time, with an equally iconic monster. An alien hunter who uses a series of advanced weapons to hunt down humans for sport has captivated viewers’ imaginations since 1987. The character has been featured in various forms of other media from comics, video games, and crossover series, and audiences can’t get enough of the Predator. Throughout the years, the creature has taken on many mantles, from a scary extraterrestrial movie monster to an antihero, an honorable warrior to a full-blown alien invader, and audiences still keep coming back, as the franchise has a new installment set for release later in 2022.
In a franchise that spans seven films (and a rich mythology in comic books), the predator movies explore a world where humanity comes face to face with a creature more technologically advanced than them, and they must fight to survive it. Yet instead of a massive alien invasion, these conflicts are smaller-scale, more intimate, and more frightening, where humanity is often outgunned. Yet the human spirit keeps going in the face of impossible odds to make humanity a worthy competitor in the universe. Take a look at the predator movies in chronological order, and order of release, depending on one’s viewing pleasure.
Predator Films in Chronological Order
By Order of Release
While not yet released, the upcoming film Prey is officially confirmed to be set in the 1700s, taking place far before the events of the previous predator movies. The original plan was to market the movie without any indication that it was a predator film, leaving audiences surprised. Leaks spoiled the hook, and now it’s being marketed as a predator movie like audiences have never seen, set far outside the present day. The movie will focus on a Comanche woman who goes against the gender norms and traditions of her tribe to become a warrior who encounters the Predator. The film is set to be released on Hulu sometime in Summer, 2022.
The first film of the series, released in 1987, predator follows an elite paramilitary rescue team led by Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) to save hostages in the guerrilla-held territory in a Central American rainforest. There they encounter the alien hunter the Predator, where Dutch’s entire team gets picked off one by one from the camouflaged killer alien, leaving Dutch to face the creature alone. Dutch manages to kill the Predator, being the only survivor, but appears to be forever haunted by the incident.
Dutch’s encounter with the Predator will inform the rest of the film series, as it appears that the government began taking classified account of the encounter. The movie also establishes key components of the Predator’s arsenal, like his camouflage, his ability to see in infrared, and his self-destruct bomb that allows the creatures to leave no trace of their existence.
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While released in 1991, Predator 2 is actually set in 1997, placing it ten years after the events of the first predator. The movie takes place in Los Angeles and follows Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) during a massive heatwave and a turf war between rival gangs, where he discovers a Predator has arrived in the city and is on the hunt. Harrigan defeats the Predator, but is greeted by a group of Predators who bestow him a flintlock pistol from 1715 as a trophy, indicating how long they have been hunting on Earth and showing him a sign of respect. Surely this will figure in to the new predator movie set in the 1700s.
Predator 2 does a lot to establish the lore of the Predators, spelling out how their weapons work and their preferred methods of hunting. It also establishes a sense of honor that the Predators have, as they will not harm an unworthy target, like when they spare a pregnant woman. It also hints at how long the Predators have been coming to Earth, and that they aren’t the only deadly creature in the galaxy, as the movie features a Xenomorph skull on the Predator ship, laying the groundwork for the next entry in the series .
Alien vs. predator
A film that was years in the making (and allegedly responsible for Ripley’s death in Alien 3), the Predator finally has a crossover film with the titular aliens from the Alien film series. Set in 2004, seven years after the events of Predator 2, Alien vs. Predator sees a group of scientists in Antarctica discover an ancient pyramid that could be the link to the first civilization. When they go to investigate it, the humans find themselves caught in an ancient conflict between the Predators and Xenomorphs.
Alien vs. predator expands on much of the Predator mythos laid out in Predator 2, with the movie establishing Predator as the lesser of two evils, as main protagonist Lex (Sanaa Lathan) teams up with the Predator to stop the alien forces. The movie also builds upon how long Predators have been traveling to Earth, revealing that they were worshiped as gods by the first civilization, and that the ritual to hunt Xenomorphs is a rite of passage into adulthood for them.
The movie ends very similarly to Predator 2, with the Predator clan presenting Lex with a trophy as a sign of respect, and bringing their fallen comrade aboard the ship. Yet bringing him aboard the ship will have disastrous consequences for the next film, as the Predator had an alien inside him, and bursting out of his chest is a new type of alien: a Pred-Alien.
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Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
Set mother moments after Alien vs. predator, Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem sees the Predator ship crash in the woods of Colorado as the Pred-Alien has killed the entire crew and is now running amok in a small town. The ship sends out a distress signal, and a seasoned Predator known in the credit as Wolf (a reference to Winston Wolf in Pulp Fiction, who also cleans up masses) is sent to dispatch the threat. The Predator kills the aliens and battles the Pred-Alien, but dies when the government nukes the town. However, the Predator’s shoulder cannon is confiscated and brought before Ms. Yutani of the Yutanti Corporation, which in the future will merge with the Weyland Corporation to create Weyland-Yutani and become the catalyst for the Alien film series.
The biggest revelation that Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem brings to the Predator mythos is in introducing the Predator home planet. While shown briefly, it does begin to show the franchise ever so briefly beginning to expand on the Predators as a species, and tries to lay out a sense of their society in more detail, which the following films will expand upon.
Predators‘timeline is a little unknown; it could theoretically take place after Alien vs. predator or even after the next film on the list, The Predatorbut the way Predators ends, and plot details in The Predator, suggest the events in this film take place before it. The film features an ensemble of characters, some of the most deadly individuals on Earth, brought to a jungle planet that is revealed as a game reserve for the Predators to hunt humans. The movie ends with mercenary Royce (Adrien Brody) and IDF sniper Isabelle (Alice Braga) having defeated the Predators that were hunting them. However, they remain stranded on the planet, with them looking for a way back to Earth.
In the movie, Isabelle makes references to the events of the first predator movie and Dutch’s squad’s encounter with the creature, which gives her a sense of knowledge about what they are up against. Predators introduces a lot of material into the mythos franchise, like the idea of Predator hounds. The movie also introduces the concept that there are two types of Predators, the classic one that audiences have seen in the previous films, and a larger, more violent branch of the species, and that these two have a blood feud going on. This idea of warring Predators becomes the central driving force of the following film.
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Set in 2018, The Predator attempts to expand the franchise to a much larger scale, as it features a group of PTSD-afflicted soldiers, a scientist, and a child with autism teaming up to fight off an invading pair of Predators who have plans for mankind that will determine the fate of Earth and many countless other worlds.
The Predator expands upon the feud between the two Predators clans in the previous film, which is now a full-scale war. The movie kicks off when a classic Predator crash-lands on Earth in hopes of giving humanity a fighting chance. It is established that the Predators have not been collecting skulls, spines, and other body parts from humans as trophies, but as genetic material to strengthen themselves and create a new type of Predator: one to be a stronger better killer.
The movie also cements the Alien vs. Predator films as canon, due to the presence of the Xenomorph spear created in that film being on display in a lab. After the massive super Predator is defeated, the ship is studied, and it is revealed that the first Predator left behind a weapon for humanity to fight off more dangerous Predators with — a high-tech suit of armor called The Predator Killer (though some people, including the film’s co-writer, hate the super-suit ending).
Chronologically that is where the Predator franchise ends at this point. In a series that started with humanity at the whims of this advanced alien hunter, the franchise ends with humanity finally having a fighting chance.
Predator Movies by Release Date
Unlike a lot of franchises, the chronological order of the predator movies also tends to line up with their order of release, except for the newest film Preywhich will be a prequel.
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