The Predator Is Returning to Its Franchise Roots ... With Humor

The original Predator expertly blended 1980s action with sci-fi-tinged horror, but we tend to forget the film also has a wicked sense of humor.

During Fox's Comic-Con International presentation for The Predator, fans were treated to an exclusive first look at clips from director Shane Black's sequel. While the new footage delivered on the expected sci-fi action in full, gory glory, it also surprised with its humor. While this was certainly is a product of the script, by Black and his Monster Squad collaborator Fred Dekker, and the improvisational skills of actor Keegan-Michael Key, a sharp wit has been in the franchise's DNA from the beginning.

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With a cast of testosterone-fueled actors led by action icon Arnold Schwarzenegger, 1987's Predator features humor that's mostly a product of its era. Escalating competitions of machismo pepper the entire first half of the film, from super-jacked handshakes to boastful one-liners, including Jesse "The Body" Ventura's character describing himself as "a goddamn sexual Tyrannosaurus." The usual '80s action trope of the star dropping a pun or joke immediately before or after dispatching nameless foes is front and center. Interestingly, Black himself appears, early in his filmmaking career, as a supporting character who can't (by design) tell a joke to save his life, although though it never stops him from trying.

And when Schwarzenegger's Dutch finally comes face to unmasked-face with the titular alien hunter that's been pursuing him, it's built up as a scary encounter. However, Dutch undercuts the terror of the reveal by observing his extraterrestrial enemy is "one ugly motherfucker."

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In a way, that moment perfectly encapsulates what the entire film is about: a blend of action, science fiction and horror, but with liberal doses of humor. Predator makes the out-of-this-world premise more palatable by injecting it with a sense of fun. That's something most of the sequels and spinoffs miss out on.

The 1990 follow-up, Predator 2, is an unusual film. In addition to relocating from the jungles of Central America to the crime-ridden streets of Los Angeles, the sequel exhibits a tone that's all over the place. The grittier setting makes much of the action darker, and plays up the horror elements more than its predecessor, with the Predator lurking in the shadows in the midst of a gang war.

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