The Predator is unquestionably one of the most iconic movie monsters in modern cinema. First introduced in the 1987 classic Predator, this ruthless, highly intelligent killing machine was seen working his way through a heavily armed squad of soldiers before meeting his match against the equally iconic Arnold Schwarzenegger. The success of the movie has led to five sequels–including the upcoming The Predator–plus a wider universe of comic books, novels, and video games.
But despite the brilliance of that initial Predator design, the first movie started shooting with an entirely different alien protagonist. The original Predator costume had a long neck, a strange bird-like head, and backward-bending legs, but technical issues with the suit led to production closing down for several months while makeup effects visionary Stan Winston worked on a new look, which is now part of movie history.
Since then, the look of the Predator has evolved from movie to movie, with each new entry in the series adapting and updating the basic design. Some of these changes are to the armor and weaponry, and sometimes to the appearance of the alien itself. Often the changes are to make the Predator look scarier than the previous film, but occasionally a more sympathetic Predator is required, such as in the first Alien vs. Predator. The writers, artists, and designers of the comics and games have also taken the design in some interesting new directions.
In 1994, a name was given to this race of alien hunters–the Yautja. The name is never used in the films, but was introduced into the wider universe in the novel Alien vs. Predator: Prey and is now commonly used by fans. The same applies to the names of the Predators themselves–many of these were simply used on set or have been applied by fans after the movies were released, but are now accepted titles.
With the latest movie, The Predator, hitting theaters on September 14, we’ll soon be able to see what the next stage of Predator evolution is. We already know from the trailers that director Shane Black has something very big and scary in store. So here’s a look back over the past 31 years of Predator evolution, to see exactly how this much-loved (and feared) movie monster has changed. Let’s hunt!
1. Jungle Hunter
This Predator was responsible for hunting and killing nearly all of a military squad in the South American jungle. The Jungle Hunter remains the most iconic of all the Predators, from the bio-mask, shoulder-mounted plasmacaster, and self-destructive wrist gauntlet to his speargun and wristblades. The helmet was originally more complex, but producer Joel Silver thought it would lessen the impact when the Predator revealed his true face, so it was simplified. There’s little doubt the clean efficiency of the design is part of what has made the Predator a truly classic monster.
2. City Hunter
Predator 2 (1990)
Predator 2 showed that there are many more types of Predator, and began the gradual evolution of its appearance both under and above the armor. The movie features a group of new hunters sometimes known as the Lost Tribe. They arrived in LA in 1997 and set about their business. City Hunter is the main hunter, and carries a more comprehensive set of weaponry than his Jungle counterpart, including a netgun, combistick (an extending combat stick), and the smart disc, the iconic Predator throwing disc. The various members of this hunting party revealed that not all Predators look the same, with make-up designer Stan Winston having more time to develop the creature design than he did on the first movie. The City Hunter’s bio-mask is more angular, its skin colour is darker, and its forehead features thorn-like protrusions.
3. Greyback/Elder Predator
Predator 2 (1990)
The hunters of Predator 2 are led by Greyback. This older warrior is an Elder, which in Predator mythology is a veteran Yautja who has gained respect through kills and trophies, but no longer takes part in combat. Greyback has longer dreadlocks and a broken tusk; interestingly, the suit worn in the movie was actually a modified version of one of the Predator costumes used in the first movie.
Alien vs. Predator #0-4 (1990)
One of the best known Predators in the wider universe, Dachande (meaning “different knife”) appeared in the original Alien vs. Predator comic. Also known as Broken Tusk, on account of his facial damage, this Yautja is an intelligent, honorable warrior responsible for many Xenomorph kills. The Predators of the AvP comics exhibited a few differences in terms of their armor and weaponry. Dachande wore heavy armor, decorated with a Xenomorph skull. Most notably, these Predators do not use the shoulder-mounted plasmacaster from the movies, instead carrying handheld blasters.
5. Bad Blood Predator
Predator: Bad Blood #1-4 (1993)
Although Predators are ruthless and deadly, they are nevertheless bound by a strict honor code. The Bad Blood Predator is a crazed rogue Yautja who freed himself from the code and began a killing spree on the streets of New Jersey in the comic book Bad Blood, ultimately claiming more than 50 victims before he was stopped by an Enforcer Predator. The Bad Blood’s appearance is marked by the way he decorates his armor with “trophy” parts of his prey, including severed heads that hang from his belt and armor made from bones (including a Predator skull).
6. Young Blood Predator
Alien vs. Predator (2004)
A Young Blood is an adolescent Predator who has recently completed his training and is ready for the Hunt. In Alien vs. Predator, a Young Blood known as Scar leads two others–Celtic and Chopper–on a mission to kill a Xenomorph and gain full “blooded” status. Stan Winston didn’t return for the third movie, so VFX studio Amalgamated Dynamics took over the continued evolution of the Predator. Scar’s biomask is reminiscent of the original Jungle Hunter, but he carries some new weapons, including a sleeker combistick, throwing stars, and telescopic wristblades that extend to twice the normal length. Scar is also the only Predator we see without a mask in AvP, and was given a more human skin coloring in order to make him a more sympathetic character than previous versions.
7. Ancient Predator
Alien vs. Predator (2004)
The Ancient Predator is even older than the Elder, and is seen at the end of Alien vs. Predator, leading the mothership that carried Scar, Celtic, and Chopper to Earth. He is marked by long, grey dreadlocks and a hairier face than other Predators.
8. Wolf/Elite Predator
Alien vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
Wolf is the main Predator of Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, and was a notable redesign from the younger, more muscular hunters of AvP. The Elite Predator are highly trained Yautja and Wolf’s tall, slimmer physique is reminiscent of the first movie’s Jungle Hunter. The helmet is inspired by Predator 2‘s City Hunter, but with the addition of rows of thorns, and his face is flatter, with sharp teeth, and a prominent acid burn down one side (presumably from a Xenomorph encounter). In terms of weaponry, Wolf carries some new additions to the Predator arsenal. There’s the Power Gauntlet, which enables a powerful punching ability, laser-beam projecting mines, dissolving acid, and a whip.
9. Super Predator
The Predator continued to evolve, and a new type was introduced for 2010’s Predators. While the same height as the Jungle Predator, these fearsome warriors are stronger and more muscular, with scaly reptilian skin, swept-back dreadlocks, and a longer, snout-like face. There are three Super Predators in the movie, each with enhanced weaponry and hunting techniques. Tracker uses fearsome hunting dogs known as Hell-Hounds, while Falconer has (yes!) a mechanical falcon to track his prey. Scariest of all is Beserker–its helmet has the addition of a disturbing skull-like bone jaw, his biomask allows him to locate the pulse of his prey, and his Plasmacaster is a rapid-firing, rotating weapon of death.
Alien vs. Predator video game (2010)
Sega’s 2010 addition to the AvP game series (also known as AVP3) wasn’t very good, but it introduced a cool new style of bio-mask to one of its Predators. Lord was the first Yautja to kill a Xenomorph and unlike other subsequent Predators, whose helmets entirely covered their mouths, this one had a opening through which his mandibles were visible.
11. Mutant Predator
Aliens vs. Predator: Fire & Stone #1-4 (2014)
Even by Predator standards, this fearsome mutant is a scary adversary. He features in the comic book Aliens vs. Predator: Fire & Stone, and is an Elder who is exposed to a genetics-accelerating chemical. The Mutant Predator towers above other Yautja, with incredible strength and a mass of mandibles capable of smashing through the skulls of his enemies.
12. Giant Hybrid Predator
The Predator (2018)
With the latest movie in the series, The Predator, still a couple of weeks from release, we’re not exactly sure what the next stage of Predator evolution will be. However, the trailers released so far suggest that we’re going to get the biggest one yet; a creature that stands at 10 feet and has no trouble throwing around smaller Predators. The movie’s official synopsis gives us a clue as to what to expect: “Now, the universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species.”