Judging by the fan base, you’d assume that The predator the series had the same consistency behind it as its xenomorph-shaped counterpart Alien franchise.
Fans are obsessed with the masked hunter, with comic book stories and short stories continuing the alien warrior’s exploits when cinema takes too long to provide an adequate offering.
Like his cinematic space twin, the Predator has appeared in video games on everything from the SNES to the PS4, while a steady stream of merchandise – from movie posters and tees, to simple children’s toys and expensive collectibles – has been readily available ever since the director. John McTeirnan’s first film came in 1987.
Read more: Exchange is’The predator meetings The resurrected one‘
5 August, new franchise installment Exchange, ruled by 10 Cloverfield Lane’s Dan Trachtenberg and set in 1719 colonial America hits Disney+, its subdued arrival flanked by a weight of tentative expectations usually reserved for heavyweights in nostalgic pop culture.
Watch a trailer for Exchange
However, a glance at Predator’s ropey IMDB credits tell a different story, one that resembles anything but a consistent legacy. Instead Predator’s Back-catalogue looks more like a fumbled bar fight than a well-executed vision worthy of fan adoration. So why has the franchise constantly struggled to find the perfect story for its enigmatic protagonist?
To answer this, we may have to go back to the beginning – or more accurately, the end of the beginning.
Predator 2 with Arnold Schwarzenegger
After McTiernan’s jungle-set original – which pitted Arnold Schwarzenegger’s muscle-bound paramilitary Dutch against an alien trophy hunter – became a surprise hit, 20th Century Fox quickly began looking for a sequel, but soon faced backlash.
With McTiernan following up The predator with Bruce Willis’ classic shoot-em-up Die hard just over a year later, the director’s asking prices had increased, and Fox was eager to retain Predator 2budget as close to the original as possible, the filmmaker dropped out, leaving Predator’s future in jeopardy.
Although losing an original franchise helmer certainly isn’t enough to derail everything (remember when James Cameron sent Ripley to boot camp in Aliens?), that was not the end of it Predator 2its rocky start. Soon after, Schwarzenegger also disappeared, leaving the film’s alien alone in the arena without his OG nemesis to fight.
Read more: Is Predator 2 a masterpiece of misunderstanding?
Despite many sources citing salary issues for Schwarzenegger’s departure, Predator 2its eventual director Stephen Hopkins later insisted that Dutch’s departure was nothing personal.
“Terminator 2: Judgment Day was going to happen around the same time, and Jim Cameron said to Arnold, ‘Do one or the other — don’t do both,'” Hopkins revealed in a 2020 interview. “It’s hard to say no to one of the best science fiction films ever made. I was pretty close to shooting and Arnold suddenly disappeared from the project.”
Read more: Arnie is scheduled The predator cameo revealed
With that, Predator 2 was forced to swing. Despite sibling screenwriters and The predator Creators Jim and John Thomas are writing a sequel inspired by the success of ’80s buddy cop movies — one that would have placed Dutch alongside a tough LAPD cop in an urban adventure — Schwarzenegger’s departure forced the duo to focus entirely on the latter. That role – Lt. Mike Harrigan – was played Deadly weapon star Danny Glover.
While Hopkins’ 1990 sequel continued The predator mythos and undoubtedly has its fans, many felt it lacked the pace, energy and action of McTiernan’s original, something the series has arguably managed to recapture.
Predator 3: Deadlier of the Species
In the years since, many attempts at a third film have been floated, with a couple of specs even making the rounds in Hollywood.
It was Predator 3: Deadlier of the Speciesan amalgam trequel that reintroduced Schwarzenegger’s Dutch, paired him with Glover’s Harrigan and placed both in a blizzard-ravaged New York City, where a new predator had arrived with the goal of killing the ex-army vet once and for all.
Predator: The Zoo
So it was The zooanother commissioned script that also brought back Schwarzenegger and Glover, but this time marauded them on the Predator homeworld as alien-smashing trophies for new warriors to hunt down.
With Schwarzenegger routinely refusing to return and his term as California governor putting a temporary hiatus on his film work, none of these scripts made it out of development hell.
Robert Rodriguez’s original Predator 3
Coincidentally, director Robert Rodriguez – who would later direct the 2010s Predators starring Adrien Brody with a similar alien-homeworld plot The zoo – had its own “crazy,” “big, and “big, big big budget” script going around around the same time in the late ’90s.
Like new prequel Exchangehis innovative take saw a space hunter visit 17th-century America and pursue his trophies on a ship, with hapless victims forced to fight it off with nothing but bravery and crude weapons.
But before any of these films could leave the site, 2007’s was dull Aliens V Predator arrived and took the character in a far different and more tongue-in-cheek direction.
Despite the fact that Rodriguez has plans for one Predators sequel which would have continued the story of Brody’s hero Royce and was later described as “Die hard on a The predator ship”, original The predator bit player Shane Black tried to breathe new life into the franchise with 2017’s The predator.
Read more: A brief history of The predator
But Black’s effort—which introduced a new breed of Super (read: Tall) predator—was given the cold shoulder by fans and critics alike, earning just 33% ratings from both on Rotten Tomatoes.
With Exchange taking things back in time to follow a young female Comanche warrior who is forced to face a new predator and earn the respect of her tribe in the process, the franchise takes steps in a bold new direction.
Although it’s hard not to wonder how the series might have played out had Schwarzenegger not run after the helicopter so soon, Exchangeits early buzz and stand-alone ethos may suggest the franchise may have finally found its mark.
Exchange will stream exclusively on Disney+ from August 5.