|Created by|| Jim Thomas|
|Portrayed by|| Kevin Peter Hall|
The Predator is a fictional extraterrestrial species featured in the Predator science-fiction franchise, characterized by its trophy hunting of other dangerous species for sport, including humans and its fictional counterparts, Xenomorphs.
First introduced in 1987 as the main antagonist of the film Predator, the Predator creatures returned in the sequels Predator 2 (1990), Alien vs. Predator (2004), Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007), and Predators (2010). The Predators have also been the subject of numerous novels, video games, and comic books, both on their own and as part of the Alien vs. Predator crossover imprint. While a definitive name for the species is not given in the films, the names Yautja and Hish have been alternatively used in the expanded universe.
Created by brothers Jim and John Thomas, the Predators are depicted as large, sapient and sentient humanoid creatures who possess advanced technology, such as active camouflage and energy weapons, and are capable of interstellar travel.
Concept and creation
The Predator design is credited to special effects artist Stan Winston. While flying to Japan with Aliens director James Cameron, Winston, who had been hired to design the Predator, was doing concept art on the flight. Cameron saw what he was drawing and said, "I always wanted to see something with mandibles". Winston then included them in his designs. Stan Winston's studio created all of the physical effects for Predator and Predator 2, creating the body suit for actor Kevin Peter Hall and the mechanical facial effects. They were hired after attempts to create a convincing monster (including Jean-Claude Van Damme wearing a much different body suit) had failed. Arnold Schwarzenegger recommended Winston after his experience working on The Terminator.
The Predator was originally designed with a long neck, a dog-like head and a single eye. This design was abandoned when it became apparent that the jungle locations would make shooting the complex design too difficult. Originally, the studio contracted the makeup effects for the alien from Richard Edlund's Boss Film Creature Shop. However, problems filming the alien in Mexico resulted in the makeup effects responsibilities being given to Stan Winston. According to former Boss Films make-up supervisor Steve Johnson, the makeup failed because of an impractical design by McTiernan that included 12-inch length extensions that gave the Predator a backward bent satyr-leg. The design did not work in the jungle locations. After six weeks of shooting in the jungles of Palenque, Mexico, the production had to shut down so that Winston could make a new Predator. This took eight months and then filming resumed for five weeks, ending in February 1987.
Jean-Claude Van Damme was originally cast as the Predator, the idea being that the physical action star would use his martial arts skills to make the Predator an agile, ninja-esque hunter. When compared to Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers, and Jesse Ventura, actors known for their bodybuilding regimens, it became apparent a more physically imposing man was needed to make the creature appear threatening. Ventura's autobiography also alleges that Van Damme intentionally injured a stunt man. Eventually, Van Damme was removed from the film and replaced by actor and mime artist Kevin Peter Hall. Hall, standing at an imposing 7 foot 2, had just finished work as a Sasquatch in Harry and the Hendersons. Peter Cullen did the creature vocals in the original film, and said the inspiration for the Predator sounds were horseshoe crabs. Hal Rayle did the Predator vocals in the second movie.
Hall played the Predator in the first and second movies. He was trained in the art of mime and used many tribal dance moves in his performance, such as during the fight between Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Predator at the end of the first movie. In Predator 2, according to a "making of" featurette, Danny Glover suggested the Los Angeles Lakers to be the other Predators because Glover himself was a big fan. Hall persuaded some of the Lakers to play background Predators because they couldn't find anyone on short notice. Hall died not long after Predator 2 was released in theaters.
In Alien vs. Predator, Welsh actor Ian Whyte, a fan of the Predator comics and movies, took over as the man in the Predator suit, portraying the "Celtic" Predator during Celtic's fight with a Xenomorph warrior. Whyte returned to portray the "Wolf" Predator in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem.
In Predators, actors Brian Steele and Carey Jones both portrayed a new breed of Predator known as the "Black Super Predators", who have been dropping humans on their planet for many years to play a survival game against them. In a nod to the first film, Derek Mears played the Predator as the creature appeared in the original, dubbed the "Classic Predator".
Special and make-up effects
The Predator's blood was made from a combination of the liquid from glow sticks mixed with K-Y Jelly. The mixture dries up quickly, so new batches had to be quickly made between takes. The technique was used in all five films featuring the Predator.
The camouflage effect was designed by R/Greenberg Associates, under the direction of Joel Hynek. The idea for the effect came in a dream one of the Thomas brothers (who wrote the film) had, in which there was a chrome man who was inside a reflective sphere. The man blended in, perfectly camouflaged, reflecting from all directions and only visible when in motion. It took quite a while before they figured out how to do it, which was basically an image repeated in a pattern of ripples in the shape of the Predator's body. It proved very effective and was a new way of presenting an "invisible man." Before there was digital rendering technology all of the camouflage was done optically using photo-chemical means, so that one would never get the same result twice from combining the same pieces of film.
After the original movies, Amalgamated Dynamics took over from Stan Winston Studio in creating the props for the Predators in the 'Alien vs. Predator movie and a number of effects houses worked on the various other effects.
First appearing in the 1987 film, Predator, the titular character lands on Val Verde via starship. It begins hunting down a United States Army Special Forces group, stationed there to rescue presidential cabinet ministers kidnapped by guerrilla forces. The Predator dispatches the soldiers one by one with a vast array of weaponry until Major Dutch Schaeffer (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is the last one alive. Dutch eventually confronts the creature, covering himself in mud to hide his heat signature from the Predator's thermal imaging, and setting up numerous booby traps. Though he manages to disable the Predator's cloaking ability, it manages to capture him, and then, in a display of chivalry, discards its mask and electronic weaponry before challenging Dutch to a final duel. Physically outmatched, Dutch eventually sets off one of his traps, which crushes and mortally wounds the creature. After being asked what it is by Dutch, the Predator simply mimics his question and sets off its self-destruct device before laughing maniacally, though Dutch manages to escape the explosion.
Set in 1997, 10 years after the events of the first film, the 1990 sequel follows a new Predator who sets its sights on Los Angeles due to its summer heat and drug wars between Jamaican and Colombian drug lords, as well as the L.A.P.D. attempting to fight both gangs. After eliminating the leaders of both gangs, the Predator begins actively targeting the L.A.P.D. officers attempting to investigate its handiwork, specifically Lieutenant Michael Harrigan (Danny Glover) and his three partners (Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso and Bill Paxton). The Predator is ultimately confronted by Harrigan in its own ship and killed when Harrigan uses its own weapons against it. The Predator's clan-mates carry away the dead Predator's body and give Harrigan a flintlock dating from 1715 as a sign of respect. The film also makes a reference to the Alien films, as shown in the Predators trophy room, which has an Xenomorph skull.
Alien vs. Predator
In 2004, a Predator ship arrives in Earth orbit to draw humans to an ancient Predator training ground on Bouvetøya, an island about one thousand miles north of Antarctica. A buried pyramid which gives off a "heat bloom" attracts humans led by Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen), who unknowingly activates an Alien egg production line. Three Predator hunter initiates (also called "youngbloods") enter the structure, killing all humans in their way with the intention of hunting the newly formed Xenomorph warriors. Two Predators die in the ensuing battle, while the third (credited as Scar in the credits) allies itself with the lone surviving human, Alexa Woods (Sanaa Lathan) in order to battle the escaped Queen Alien. The Queen is defeated, but not before she fatally wounds the last Predator. The Predator ship hovering above the battleground uncloaks and the crew retrieve the fallen Predator. A Predator elder gives Alexa a spear as a sign of respect, and then departs. Once in orbit it is revealed that a chestburster was in the corpse, though this specimen has Predator mandibles.
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem
Set immediately after the previous film, the Predalien hybrid on board the Predator scout ship, which just separated from the mothership from the previous film, has grown to full adult size and sets about killing the Predators on-board the ship, causing it to crash in Gunnison, Colorado. The last survivor activates a distress beacon with a video of the Predalien, which is received by a veteran Predator, who sets off towards Earth to "clean up" the infestation. When it arrives, the Predator tracks the Xenomorphs into a section of the sewer below town. He removes evidence of their presence as he goes by using a corrosive blue liquid. It uses a laser net to try to contain the creatures, but the Xenomorphs still manage to escape into the town above. The Predator fashions a plasma pistol from its remaining plasma caster and hunts Xenomorphs all across town (accidentally cutting the power to the town in the process). During a confrontation with human survivors, the Predator loses its plasma pistol. The Predator then fights the Predalien singlehandedly, and the two mortally wound one another just as the US military drops a tactical nuclear bomb on the town, incinerating both combatants as well as the few remaining humans in the city. The salvaged plasma pistol is then taken by the United States Army to Ms. Yutani.
In Predators (which deliberately distances itself from the prior Alien vs. Predator movies), it is revealed that there are two warring Predator tribes, with one group using quadrupedal hunting beasts and elaborate traps to hunt. These Predators capture and drop a group of elite killers from different locations from Earth onto a forested planet used as a game preserve. After numerous skirmishes resulting in the deaths of two Predators and all but two of the captured humans, the last Predator manages to kill another member of its kind from a rival tribe, but is defeated in combat by the human survivors.
Predators are physically distinguished from humans by their greater height, arthropod-like mandibles and long, hair-like appendages on their heads that are set into their skulls. Their bodies are resilient to damage, capable of recovering from multiple gunshot wounds and radiation doses which would be fatal to humans. They are much stronger than humans, having been portrayed as being easily capable of outmatching a conditioned adult human male and shattering solid concrete with their bare hands. They are also skilled climbers, and will readily move through trees or across rooftops in pursuit of prey. Though capable of surviving exposure in Antarctic temperatures for an extended period of time, it is implied that Predators have a preference for hot equatorial climates. Their blood is luminescent phosphor green in color. Their vision operates mainly in the infrared portion of the electromagnetic spectrum; they can easily detect heat differentials in their surroundings but are unable to easily distinguish among objects of the same relative temperature. A Predator's hunting helmet increases its ability to see in a variety of spectrums, ranging from the low infrared to the high ultraviolet, and also filters the ambient heat from the area, allowing them to see things with greater clarity and detail. While they are capable of breathing Earth's atmosphere, the creature in Predator 2 is seen using a breathing mask after losing his helmet. Their dietary habits are also mentioned in Predator 2, where it is revealed that the creature regularly visits a slaughterhouse every two days to feed on the stored meat there.
Throughout their film appearances, Predators have undergone numerous design variations. In Predator 2, the main Predator was designed to look more urban and hip than its predecessor. Design changes included tribal ornamentation on the forehead, which was made steeper and shallower, brighter skin coloration and a greater number of fangs. In Alien vs. Predator, the appearance of the Predators was redesigned to make them seem more heroic. Redesigns included a reduction in head and waist size, broader shoulders, a more muscular physique, piranha-like teeth on the upper jaw and dryer, less clammy skin to further differentiate them from the Xenomorphs. In Aliens vs Predator: Requiem, the Predator was returned to the sleeker design concept prior to Alien vs. Predator. For the so called "Black Super Predators" in Predators, the designers used the differences between a cassette tape and an iPod as an analogy in differentiating the new Predators from the classic. The Super Predators were designed as leaner and taller than the "classic" Predator design, with longer faces, tighter armor and with more swept back dreadlocks.
Culture and history
Predator culture revolves around the hunting and stalking of dangerous lifeforms. After making a kill, Predators typically skin or decapitate the carcass, converting it into a trophy. Failure in a hunt results in the Predator involved committing an honorable suicide. It is often alluded to that the reason Predators hunt is not for sustenance or elimination of threats, but as entertainment or rite of passage, as they will only attack life forms that have the ability to provide them with a challenge. In Predators, it is revealed that there are at least two different Predator tribes, which are engaged in a long lasting blood feud. The film also introduced a pack of spined, quadrupedal beasts used as flushing dogs by the "Super Predators". Creature designer Gregory Nicotero used hyenas as a basis for the creature's physique, while the spines were added later by Chris Olivia.
Predators made contact with early human civilizations such as the Ancient Egyptians, the Khmer Empire, and Aztecs, as well as a fictitious culture inhabiting what is now modern day Bouvetøya. Upon arriving on Earth, the Predators were worshipped as gods by humans, and they taught many of the civilizations how to build pyramids (an explanation as to why many of these different ancient societies had distinctly similar cultures and architecture), but in return expected sacrifices of humans for use as hosts for huntable Xenomorphs. The Predators returned to Bouvetøya every century to consummate the bargain, until at one point in the ritual, the Xenomorphs spread out of control, resulting in the Predators detonating a bomb that obliterated the entire civilization. Relations with humans and the Predators deteriorated from that time on; the Predators then viewed humans as little more than another quarry to hunt.
Predators feature prominently in the folklore of certain cultures; some Latin American people refer to the species as, "El Demonio que hace trofeos de los hombres" (Spanish for "The Demon who makes trophies of men"), while Jamaican superstition identifies Predators as demons from the spirit world. When hunting humans, Predators normally avoid certain individuals such as children and some adults if they are unarmed, though they will spare armed ones if they happen to be pregnant or sickly. A human who has managed to kill a Predator in single combat or has fought alongside one is usually spared by the deceased hunter's comrades and given a gift (often a rare or exotic weapon) as a sign of respect.
A learner's first successful Xenomorph hunt is completed with the marking of his helmet and forehead with the blood of his kill. Predators apparently keep Xenomorph Queens in captivity in order to maintain a supply of eggs. It is shown in a brief scene in Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem that Predators have had prior contact with the Space Jockeys. This is confirmed in the film's DVD commentary.
The script of the Predators is expressed in the films and other media through written patterns of dashes. These written symbols appear on the creatures' gauntlet displays, their helmets, architecture, and many other surfaces. The most common vocalizations of the Predators consists of a series of clicks, roars, snarls, and growls. Predators will mimic human language on occasion, and have been stated or shown to be able to understand and speak human languages. Author Steve Perry designed a constructed language set for the Aliens vs. Predator novel series.
Predator technology is distinctive in many respects, not the least of which is its ornate, tribal appearance masking deadly, sophisticated weaponry. It is shown in Predator 2 that at least one Predator weapon uses a metal that does not correspond to any element on the periodic table, and some weapons have been shown to be completely resistant to the effects of acidic blood belonging to Xenomorphs . In addition, several of these tools make use of thermal imaging to track prey. The Predator's mask also houses a viewing system that fine tunes the creature's infrared vision by filtering out ambient heat, and also allows it to view in different spectra completely. The Predator's technology is advanced enough that the mask enables it to see in specific levels of X-ray and identify diseases and cancers, as well as picking up on pulse and heartbeat signals to track targets, as seen in Alien vs. Predator and Predators, respectively. The Predator also makes use of a light-bending cloaking device. A flashback sequence in Alien vs. Predator indicates that some aspects of their technology have been in use for millennia.
In the Aliens vs. Predator novel series (based on the Dark Horse Comics) by David Bischoff, Steve and Stephani Perry, the Predators, known in the series as "Yautja", are depicted as living in a matriarchal clan-based society bearing similarities to a pack mentality, with the strongest and most skilled of the group being leader. The Predators are portrayed as sexually dimorphic mammals, with females being larger and stronger than males and sporting more prominent mammary glands (like human females). Both genders give off a strong musk to signify aggression, while females can also emit it when in estrus. This musk can be detected by other Predators and canids, though it is imperceptible to humans. Predators in the Perry novels are not monogamous, and it is common for veteran warriors to sire hundreds of offspring (known as sucklings) with multiple mates. It is also revealed that their blood has the capacity of partially neutralizing the acidity of Xenomorph blood. Their religion is partially explored in the series, showing that they are polytheistic, and that their equivalent of the Grim Reaper is the so-called "Black Warrior," who is seen as an eternal adversary who eventually wins all battles.
Though female Predators are occasionally referred to in Steve and Stephani Perry's novel series, one does not make an actual appearance until the graphic novel Aliens vs Predator: Deadliest of Species. The female's design however contradicts the descriptions given in the Perry novel series, as it superficially shows little distinction from males.
In Randy Stradley's graphic novel Aliens vs. Predator: War, it is revealed through the narration of the character Machiko Noguchi that Predators were responsible for the spread of Xenomorphs throughout the galaxy, though the Predators themselves deny this, stating that their large interplanetary distribution is due to simultaneous convergent evolution.
The comic series Predator and Aliens vs Predator: Three World War introduce a clan of Predators referred to as "Killers", who are enemies of mainstream Predators (here referred to as "Hunters") because of their tradition of training Xenomorphs as attack animals rather than hunting them, as well as their desire for killing as opposed to honorable hunting. The character Machiko Noguchi notes in issue #1 of Three World War that "You have to understand the mindset of the Hunters, and the honor they place on facing a worthy opponent on an equal footing... a kill is the end result, but it's not the point of a hunt.... For the 'Killers,' that wasn't the case. They were all about the killing." They are first seen in the 2009 Predator series, where a number interfere in an East African civil war, coming into conflict with both humans and their Hunter counterparts. By the time of Three World War the Killers are assumed to have been wiped out by the Hunters, but some survive and begin attacking human colonies, forcing Noguchi to forge an alliance between humans and the Hunters in order to deal with them.
In John Shirley's stand alone novel Predator: Forever Midnight, Predators, now referred to as "Hish", are shown to possess a gland located between their neck and collarbone which secretes powerful hormones into their bloodstream and which drives them to hyper-aggression. When this gland is over-stimulated, it sends the creatures into a frenzied rage, causing them to attempt killing any living thing in sight, including members of their own species. This "kill rage" can be contagious and spread from one Predator to another, driving them all to attack each other. The Predators as a species barely survived the wars provoked by their kill glands, and they have learned to control the gland's secretions with artificial hormone regulators.
In John Vance's graphic novel Predator Homeworld, it is revealed that Predators breathe 1% more oxygen, and 4% more nitrogen than humans, and that they are capable of adapting themselves to Earth's atmosphere for one week at the most if deprived of a breathing apparatus. In Ian Edginton and Alex Maleev's graphic novel Aliens vs. Predator: Eternal and the videogame Predator: Concrete Jungle, Predator flesh and blood, if consumed, is shown to have the capacity of greatly lengthening a human's lifespan.