Why The Predators Hunt Humans, According To (Mostly) Canon Sources

We're experiencing a "Predator" renaissance, and it's all thanks to "Prey." The latest entry in the 35-year-old franchise takes us back in time and features the first female protagonist to kick a Predator's butt. "Prey" is already the best-reviewed film in the entire series, thanks largely to the central performances by Amber Midthunder and Dakota Beavers, a script that takes the "Predator" story back to basics, Dan Trachtenberg's eye for grounded action, and a very good dog. 

At this point, we've seen Predators (or Yautja) face off against human warriors many times across the decades. Between the main "Predator" films, the crossover "Alien vs. Predator" spinoffs, and expanded canon from the comics and novels, we've learned that the Yautja are a species utterly obsessed with the thrill and prestige of the hunt, and in particular with hunting species that can hunt them back. 

So, the fact that humans have defeated Predators numerous times over the years hasn't taught these aliens to steer clear of Earth. In fact, it's only made us all the more interesting to them.

The comics

Back in 1989, Dark Horse Comics made many a horror fan's dreams come true when they began publishing an "Aliens vs. Predator" comic series, which eventually led to a criminally underrated crossover film.

Issue #0 of the comic, which serves as a prelude to the main story. It starts with a conversation between two men on a space mining ship arguing about whether humans have become too dependent on technology. As one man tells the other that we stopped using tools as means to an end and instead have turned them into the end itself, we see images of Yautja preparing their arsenal of advanced hunting tools. When the dialogue states that we have lost our connection to our primal nature, we see the aliens fighting to the death over some small disagreement.

The implication is that the Predators are what humans ought to aspire to — at least, in the eyes of that one, very violent, man. They have technology, sure, but they don't depend on it. They are advanced, but still seem to resolve conflicts via feats of strength. They are both futuristic and rather primitive.

A fair fight

The comic suggests that the Predators hunt us down to prove to themselves that they have not forgotten their roots and become dependent on their weapons. Even on the verge of victory they will pause to allow humans to pick up weapons and don't kill them when they are unarmed, as there is no sport in killing prey that doesn't fight back (something that Dutch notes in the very first "Predator" film).

Indeed, whenever we've seen Predators encounter humans in the films, there is at least one scene where the Predator chooses not to use their weapons and fight humans by hand. This seems to be the aliens trying to prove that their advanced technology has not made them sedentary and dependent on tools, that they are still strong enough to kill us with their bare hands. Of course, their boasting of their power tends to be their undoing, but that's just good news for whatever human they face off against.

"Prey" in particular sees the Feral Predator responding in kind to whatever weapons are wielded against it. After humans attempt to trap it with a net, it deploys a net of its own (with a lethal twist). When humans fight with projectile weapons, the Predator responds with a less advanced version of the Plasmacaster that fires bolts instead of energy blasts. But when it fights animals, it tends to stick to only its wristblades and brute strength. There's no sport in sniping a wolf from the treetops.

Collecting upgrades

2018's "The Predator" revealed how far the Yautja are willing to go to become the galaxy's greatest predator. In that movie, humans learn that the Predators have taken to splicing their own DNA with that of other species in an attempt to improve themselves. "The Predator" introduced two Yautja who had both been enhanced with human DNA, making them even deadlier than before.

Perhaps they got this idea from their other favorite prey: the Xenomorph. "Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem" featured a Xenomorph that spawned from a Yautja, creating a hybrid of the two species. The aptly named Predalien (pictured above) combines two creatures with very ugly mouths to create the ugliest mouth in cinema, accomplishing what simply must be the Yautja's true goal. 

That's right. If you can't beat them, and you won't join them, steal their genetic material to try and capture what makes them special. Of course, in a bit of delicious irony, the human soldiers in "The Predator" pull a similar feat and use Predator weapons to fight back and kill a Yautja. That film even ends with a human soldier intending to pilot a "Predator killer" suit that can even the field in future fights. 

The novels

The "Predator" books, however, focus on our dependence on technology as the reason why Predators hunt us. In the novelization for the first "Predator" movie, writer Paul Monette introduces the titular alien hunter as he is stalking and studying a group of soldiers, focusing on their camouflage and heavy weapons. According to the book, it was the sight of a creature that modified and trained itself specifically to kill that interested the Predator and made it want to hunt soldiers. "A kindred spirit at least, a reason to exist," Monette wrote.

Even if they know they are more advanced than us, the Yautja think of us as worthy prey or even opponents because we are willing to use tools to help us kill and rule over other creatures. There is perhaps no better example of this than a little crossover comic titled "Batman Versus Predator." In that comic, a Yautja lands on Gotham City looking for worthy prey, but isn't really satisfied until it meets the Caped Crusader. Truly, if you want an adversary that pushes itself and modifies itself in order to be a better warrior, who better than Batman? In that comic alone, Batman uses a sonar exoskeleton suit to increase his strength, as well as several new gadgets like a wide-spectrum tranquilizer to beat the Predator.

Likewise, the "Aliens vs. Predator: Prey" novelization of the comic book series states that the Predators hate humans for their cunning and craftiness. They even turned us into bedtime stories to scare Yautja children! This strikes at the core of the franchise, which has always been about the advanced alien hunter underestimating their prey.

"Prey" is now streaming on Hulu.