The Significance Of The Raphael Adolini Pistol In Prey Explained

Note: this piece contains major spoilers for "Prey," so read at your own risk if you haven't seen it yet.

Just when you might have thought that the movie career of the Predator was over, "Prey" proved that the franchise can still produce some great scares and thrills. While it's a shame that audiences won't be able to see them in a theater, at least we've got another good "Predator" movie again, and this one comes with a very deep-cut continuity reference.

In order to explain why the pistol is such an important Easter egg, let's take a look at how Naru (Amber Midthunder) acquired it in the first place. After she and her brother Taabe (Dakota Beavers) survive being used as Predator bait by a group of French settlers, Naru encounters a translator she met earlier in the movie: Raphael (Bennett Taylor). He appears to be severely injured by the alien, offering her a gun in exchange for medicine. She reluctantly accepts his offer and is told how to use the gun as she's tending to his severed leg. However, it isn't long before the Predator returns to the French campsite, killing Raphael and leaving Naru with the gun. At the end of the movie, she gives it to her village elders and a close-up on the gun reveals that Raphael's full name was Raphael Adolini. Yes, the Raphael Adolini.

This isn't the first time Adolini has been mentioned

Raphael Adolini is a familiar name in the "Predator" universe. In the Dark Horse comic story "Predator: 1718," Adolini was introduced as a pirate captain whose ship is anchored in Guinea as he's dealing with a potential mutiny. Tensions quickly escalate, resulting in a full-blown battle between the captain and his crew.

In the distance, a Predator is found hunting for his next trophy and watches the battle. Wanting to eventually claim Adolini's death as its own, the creature decides to side with Adolini in the conflict, and the two end up fighting side-by-side despite their staggering differences in abilities. That is until the two almost begin to fight themselves before Adolini is shot by a hidden crew member. He dies of the gunshot wound and gives the Predator his engraved gun as a sign of respect. Needless to say, he sounds like a pretty cool dude outside of the normal pillaging that pirates were known to do.

It's also been featured in the films before

However, the most significant appearance of the Adolini pistol happened far before the "1718" comic was even published. It first appeared in the most underrated "Predator" film, "Predator 2" (do not argue with me on this), in 1990. As one may recall, that movie took place over two centuries after the events of the comic in the "futuristic" war zone of 1997 Los Angeles.

After a cat-and-mouse chase through the city and many people getting killed along the way, it finally looks like LAPD Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) is about to be defeated by the invading Predators. After all, groups of them are suddenly teleporting around him after he killed one of their own, nicknamed the City Hunter for the film and once again played by Kevin Peter Hall. However, what he wasn't expecting was for them to show not only mercy but respect for the cop. Instead of punishing him for killing one of their own kind, they instead give him a trophy as a sign of respect before returning to their spaceship. If you've been keeping up with what I've been dropping, then it isn't hard to see what form this trophy took.

A new origin story for the pistol

The comic that the character of Adolini was developed in technically isn't canon, at least not anymore, and so "Prey" invents a new origin story for the pistol — and its original owner. It's possible that the Raphael Adolini who appears in "Prey" shares a seafaring background like the character in the comic (he tells Naru, "I speak a lot of languages"). He takes a gentler approach to Naru than the rest of the men in his party, telling her that they believe it is searching for the "strongest beast" to hunt, and asking her to offer up any information she might have. 

Not only does Raphael give Naru the pistol and teach her how to load it, which later proves crucial to defeating the Predator in the movie's final battle, he also inadvertently teaches her something very important about the creature. After Naru gives Raphael medicine to cool his body down, the Predator arrives at the camp. Watching it look blindly past the wounded Raphael, Naru realizes that the Predator cannot see him, and concludes that the medicine she gave him must be the reason. It's only when the Predator steps on Raphael and he cries out that the unfortunate man is killed — but he's already taught Naru how to survive.

Wait, so what now?

Another place where things get tricky is how the Predators now even obtain the pistol in the first place. Well, the end credits to "Prey" could hint at it, but even the definitive nature of those is a bit confusing. As you might recall, the painting-inspired end credits to the new film end with Naru being celebrated by her village like how the movie itself ended. However, it then transitions into a painting version of what appears to be several Predator ships arriving on Earth.

There are two potential ways this could have turned out. The first is very bleak and sad, but also unfortunately likely; the rest of the Predators have located Earth and are ready to attack the rest of Naru's village. From there, the Predators could have easily taken the pistol for themselves. This would be a pretty upsetting ending, given how so much of the movie felt like an allegory to the horrors of American colonization, and this would seem like a significant step backward.

However, let's go back to "Predator 2" for a second. Remember when a group of Predators also came to surround Harrigan, only for them to pick up their dead comrade and leave? The same could very well have happened here, with the elders giving the Predators the pistol as a sign of respect instead, as why would they want to keep the gun given to them by colonizers?

"Prey" is now streaming on Hulu.