The Predator Comic-Con

At San Diego Comic-Con, director Shane Black brought a new sneak peek of the latest entry in the Predator franchise that he was part of all the way back in the 1980s. But rather than slinging some inappropriate jokes in the jungle as a supporting star, this time he’s behind the camera for The Predator, bringing the galaxy’s most dangerous hunter to a new generation of audiences. So is The Predator up to the task of slaying in 2018? We attended The Predator Comic-Con 2018 panel in Hall H to find out.

The Predator Trailer

Who Would Win in a Fight?

The Predator panel kicked off with a little behind the scenes reel featuring Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, and newcomer Augusto Aguilera. They dreamed up match-ups between The Predator and opponents like The Rock, Johnny Utah, Wolverine, and Yoda. But they also dug into some of the characters previously played by cast members in other movies, like Psylocke and The Punisher, the latter of which Thomas Jane was disappointed to use.

Throughout the clip, there was plenty of ribbing between cast members, and it’s the kind of chemistry that you could feel as this ensemble cast was on the stage at Hall H. They kept cracking jokes during the panel and answering more questions about whether The Predator could defeat Han Solo, Indiana Jones, and more.

the predator cast

A Surprising Amount of Comedy

The first real clip from The Predator didn’t even feel like it was from this kind of movie. Olivia Munn’s character is passed out on a hotel bed, and the group of Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, and Augusto Aguilera are trying to arrange items around her in the bed, seemingly to make her feel comfortable whenever she wakes up.

Munn stirs awake and she’s disoriented. The entire crew of soldiers around her reassure her that everything is fine. There’s a lot of fast-talking dialogue that you’ve seen in Shane Black movies before. Overlapping lines, quick jokes, etc. Munn acts like shes okay, but then suddenly grabs a shotgun lying near her bed to protect herself. Everyone goes “Ohhhh!” Keegan-Michael Key’s character demands to be paid after revealing he bet that she would pick up the gun. They’re not worried at all.

Suddenly things get tense when Boyd Holbrook tries to take the gun away from her. He pulls it back and forth with Munn, tension builds, Munn pulls the trigger. Again, everyone goes “Ohhhh!” Key reveals that he made another bet that she would shoot the gun. This scene feels like it’s from a well-oiled comedy rather than a sci-fi action thriller.

Munn tries to run out of the hotel room, and the group warns her that’s a bad idea. They even toss her a bag, basically daring her to leave. Breaking up these scenes that have exposition are quick moments of comedy, including Thomas Jane’s character who has Tourette’s syndrome. He mutters, “Eat your pussy” as Olivia Munn backs away from the door. She double checks to make sure that’s what he said, but Jane tries to cover up by claiming he said, “Jeez, you’re pushy.” It’s a gag that goes on for 15 seconds or so as everyone gets in on the conversation.

There’s exposition revealed throughout the scene where Munn talks about the incident that led to her being passed out and in a hotel room with these guys. She tells them that she works with a group of people studying life from other planets, she explains that they call the creature they saw as a “Predator” because he hunts people. But of course, this group of guys point out that’s not really what a predator does, that’s a hunter. And he’s probably going to be hunting Holbrook, because he reveals that his character has found the Predator’s gear.

Again, a surprising amount of levity, at least in this scene, and I wonder how much of it permeates the rest of the movie. Comments from Keegan-Michael Key seemed to indicate there’s playful interaction and banter throughout the movie because he and the rest of the cast kept trying to fit in lines from blaxploitation movies into some scenes.  While the original Predator certainly had some funny moments, especially from dialogue between its soldiers, it wasn’t anything like this. It’s clearly a Shane Black movie that focuses on The Predator, which is an interesting concept, but I’m not sure it’s what hardcore fans of the franchise are going to latch onto.

The Predator trailer breakdown 11

The Mega Predator Isn’t Messing Around

Don’t worry, The Predator isn’t all laughs. The second clip that played in Hall H was much more along the lines of the kind of action and style that fans are hoping for. Boyd Holbrook, Olivia Munn, and Jacob Tremblay are hiding in what appears to be a school. There’s the ominous stomping of a Predator coming towards them from outside, causing Holbrook and Munn to draw their guns.

Suddenly, there’s a Predator inside, grabbing Holbrook and slamming him up against a window by the throat. He struggles from a moment until suddenly, as we’ve seen in the NBA Finals spot for The Predator, he’s grabbed by something much bigger through the window.

It’s a Predator that is much taller and muscular than the masked, armored Predator who grabbed Holbrook. The big one throws him into the parking lot like a rag doll. The rest of the soldiers are waiting outside armed with guns, but this bigger Predator isn’t concerned with these humans.

The smaller Predator tries to fight back, but his bladed gauntlets have no effect on this superior beast. He picks him up and slams him onto the roof of a station wagon. He’s down for the count. But Mega Predator isn’t done yet. After making a signature clicking growl that has a much deeper vocal register, he rips off his opponent’s mask, punches his face, and finishes by tearing off his head, complete with spine attached. Green blood drips everywhere, and Shane Black says it will be even bloodier than what was shown here in Hall H.

The entire human crew makes a getaway in an RV and the Mega Predator looks on at them as they drive away. Olivia Munn wonders out loud, “They’re hunting each other now?”

The Predator Comic-Con Poster

One Faction of Predators Is Pissed

During the panel (where the above poster was unveiled), Shane Black explained where this genetically modified Mega Predator comes from. Black explained:

“We assume there’s a faction on the Predator homeworld that’s been bested not once but twice by Earthlings. They send champions to Earth and they don’t come home. They don’t like that. They want to punch back. There’s an element of a contentious faction that might not be above a bit of [steroid use]. They have access to survival traits and skills from every species they’ve hunted.”

Shane Black added later that while there aren’t any direct links to any of the genetic manipulation or other details from the Alien vs Predator franchise, the movie does feature a group of Predators who have formulated their own assassin Predator. And that’s what the humans have to deal with this time.

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That’s all from The Predator at San Diego Comic-Con. The action looks like it will give Predator fans what they want, but I’m interested to see how they receive the comedic side of the characters. The laughs are genuine and come from a group of characters who are comfortable with each other, not unlike the first movie, but it also feels much more plentiful.

If you haven’t watch it yet, check out the previous trailer for The Predator over here.

The Predator opens on September 14, 2018.

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home. The universe’s most lethal hunters are stronger, smarter and deadlier than ever before, having genetically upgraded themselves with DNA from other species. When a boy accidentally triggers their return to Earth, only a ragtag crew of ex-soldiers and a disgruntled science teacher can prevent the end of the human race.

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