Prey's Predator Design Went Through A Surprising Number Of Iterations

With every movie in the "Predator" franchise, each respective creative team has sought to revitalize and reinvent the eponymous creatures hunting our hapless group of humans in the hopes of living up to the original classic. Whether in the jungles of Vietnam or the streets of Los Angeles or otherworldly locations entirely, various protagonists have come up against the unstoppable might of the Yautja and only a very select few have ever walked away from those encounters — in part because of how different (subtly or otherwise) each antagonist has been carefully designed for each outing.

The villain in the shadows of director Dan Trachtenberg's "Prey" (portrayed by Dane DiLiegro) is no exception, having undergone a radical visual shakeup to reflect the brand-new setting of the latest installment. Set in early 1700s America, the script written by Patrick Aison brings the action way back in time before technological advancements — for both humans and Yautja alike — could subject viewers to another overly familiar conflict we've seen several times before. Unproven Naru (Amber Midthunder) and her Comanche tribe are still severely outgunned, even with the playing field relatively more even ... but as the creative team emphasizes, there's more to it than simple weaponry.

The specific Predator haunting the footsteps of the heroes in "Prey" ultimately bears a clever and faithful resemblance to the creatures we've seen in movies past, though with several key differences that set this iteration apart from any other. What may surprise fans is just how long it took to get to the alien's final, distinctive look.

'The Predator also had primitive weapons that evolved'

In an interview with Variety, special effects guru, creature designer, and puppeteer Tom Woodruff Jr. spoke about the complicated process it took to deliver one of the most acclaimed and stand-out creature designs the "Predator" franchise has ever seen. As he explained, the choice to differentiate the creature from previous versions was built-in right from the first discussions. "Some of our earliest conversations with Dan were about making this Predator super slim with some kind of weird camouflage and different from the reptilian thing we've seen before." That meant overhauling many of the familiar visual cues and even making subtle changes to the proportions of this particular Yautja.

This approach also applied to the barebones gadgetry and tools at its disposal, contrasting nicely with the equivalent technology wielded by Naru and her fearsome brother, the hunter Taabe (Dakota Beavers). According to Woodruff Jr.:

"When we started working on the Predator's instruments, we had some designs come through that looked a little more homemade. The idea was that the Predator also had primitive weapons that evolved."

All told, Variety reports that his group began with 20 or so different concepts that were finally narrowed down to 5. Trachtenberg helped in "working out the nuances" that resulted in one of the leanest, stripped-down, but nonetheless, formidable Predators to ever engage in its ritual hunt. 

"Prey" is currently available to stream on Hulu.