Movie Legends: Did a Joke About Rocky IV Inspire Predator's Creation?

MOVIE URBAN LEGEND: A joke about Rocky IV led to the creation of the film, Predator.

Few films in the 1980s were quite as audaciously patriotic as Rocky IV...

The film's poster is literally the hero wrapped in the American flag after he essentially single-handedly won the Cold War in 1985.

You see, the film was about famed prizefighter, Rocky Balboa, being wooed out of retirement (after the previous three Rocky movies) to take on the seemingly undefeatable mass of Soviet steroids known as Ivan Drago, who had literally beaten Rocky's trainer (and former boxing opponent) Apollo Creed to death in a boxing match earlier in the film...

The film was extremely over-the-top. There was even a talking robot in the movie (although, as we discussed in an earlier Movie Legends Revealed, the reason for the robot being in the film was actually pretty sweet)!!

Despite being a major underdog, Rocky travels to Russia to fight Drago and not only defeats Drago, but has the whole Soviet crowd rooting for ROCKY by the end of the fight! Stallone directed the movie and he really leaned into the absurdity of the concept and the result was a blockbuster film, the most successful Rocky movie of all-time (adjusted for inflation, though, the original Rocky was by far the biggest one and Rocky III even slightly edges Rocky IV out of the runner-up spot).

Okay, so Rocky has now defeated seemingly an unbeatable Soviet super-boxer and apparently won the Cold War. What more could the boxer do?

Well, at the time, the joke was that the only place that the Rocky series could go was for Rocky to start beating up aliens from outer space.

Therefore, as the legend goes, screenwriting brothers Jim and Jon Thomas were inspired by that joke and actually came up with a story of a human beating up an alien and the story evolved into what was eventually the 1987 film starring Arnold Schwarzenegger called Predator, about a team of commandos being hunted down by an alien predator in the jungles of South America....

That's the story told in at least one book about Schwarzenegger's career and it has been picked up by a whole lot of movie sites, which all end up citing that book.

However, the main problem with that story is that the brothers actually finished the screenplay at the end of 1983!

From a great look at the making of the film from GamesRadar...

Finished in September 1983, the brothers started to shop the script around Hollywood. But without an agent, they couldn’t get it read.

So they resorted to slipping it under the door of Twentieth Century Fox employee Michael Levy.

With not a credit to his name – he would go on to executive produce Die Hard 2 and Predator 2 – he passed it on to his colleagues.

Lawrence Gordon, the veteran action producer who was in the midst of his two-year tenure as President of Fox, read the script in early 1984 and snapped it up faster than you could fire an M16.

Similarly, another claim from the Schwarzenegger book that it was Arnold who asked that it be about a commando TEAM rather than just him versus the alien for the whole movie was debunked by the fact that the initial screenplay involved a team.

For inspiration, the brothers listed a bunch of other sources:

Originally called Hunter, inspirations ranged from Joseph Conrad’s jungle-set classic novella Heart Of Darkness to stories by the Brothers Grimm read to Jim and John by their parents when they were young.

The brothers also plundered their knowledge of creatures from classical literature. “We’ve always had an interest in mythology,” adds Jim.

“There’ve always been creatures like the Predator. There’s the Cyclops, the Minotaur, Goliath, the Grendel in Beowulf. They always represent the darkness.

So, I'm going with the legend as...


Be sure to check out my archive of Movie Legends Revealed for more urban legends about the world of film.

Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is bcronin@legendsrevealed.com.

South Park: Is Randy Marsh Looking to Cheat on His Wife With [SPOILER]?

More in CBR Exclusives