With the simple addition of a single prop, The Predator officially acknowledges the events of franchise black sheep Alien vs. Predator. While opinions vary on 1990’s Predator 2, most fans will agree the cameo appearance of a Xenomorph skull on the Predator’s trophy wall was an inspired touch. In addition to hinting at a wider universe, it also set up a potential crossover that had sci-fi geeks salivating at the time – which was handy for Fox, who owned both properties.
Despite this, it took 14 years for Aliens vs. Predator to finally hit screens. Various scripts and concepts were developed and Sigourney Weaver has stated part of her desire to kill Ripley in Alien 3 was the fear she’d be roped into an Alien vs. Predator crossover – a concept she found "just awful." It’s fair to say the resulting 2004 effort isn’t especially beloved among the fanbase; it has some fun action scenes and additions to the mythology, but bland characters and a toothless PG-13 rating neuter a lot of the excitement. In the time it took for the movie to appear various video games and comic books had already explored the concept – often with superior results. The movie later spawned a sequel, subtitled Requiem, but the less said about that, the better.
When Shane Black’s new sequel The Predator was announced there was confusion about its relationship to past entries. Some actors involved with the project stated it had no real ties to the other movies, while others claimed it acknowledged all of them – including the AVP movies. Reports of Arnold Schwarzenegger rejecting a cameo and Jake Busey signing on to play Sean Keyes (the son of Predator 2’s Peter Keyes) confirmed it would build on established storylines. The Predator also went back for three weeks of reshoots in early 2018, which would add further callbacks to past adventures.
Which Predator Movies Are Canon?
While some modern franchises prefer to paste over unloved instalments – Halloween 2018 comes to mind – The Predator ultimately has a healthy relationship to the franchise’s past. When Olivia Munn’s scientist character, Casey Bracket, is first being briefed she’s told of past Predator encounters from 1987 and 1997, and she's shown pictures from both Predator and Predator 2 as evidence. There are no references to 2010’s Predators, but considering the events of that entry play out in a game preserve in space during an undisclosed time frame, this is understandable. Black himself has addressed Predators, stating the movie is canon but its events likely haven’t happened yet.
Alien vs. Predator Is Still Canon
Bracket is later shown a display of various Predator bio-masks, and also Lex Wood’s (Sanaa Lathan) Alien tail spear from Alien vs. Predator. In the movie, that particular weapon is crafted for Lex by a friendly Predator, and she uses it in the finale to skewer an Alien Queen. While the events of AVP aren’t directly referenced in The Predator, the inclusion of this spear feels like a nod to the fanbase that yes, the events of the movie are officially canon.
The status of AVP in the canon has been in doubt since Prometheus, which presented an alternate backstory for the founder of Weyland Industries, AVP had Charles Bishop Weyland (Lance Henriksen) as the founder but Prometheus/Alien: Covenant had Sir Peter Weyland (Guy Pearce) instead. Screenwriter Damon Lindelof even pointed out the inconsistency to Ridley Scott during development, only to be told in no uncertain terms that Scott didn’t care about tying into AVP.
There don’t seem to be any overt nods to Alien vs. Predator: Requiem, though given that all the evidence of a Predator/Xenomorph attack in that sequel was nuked out of existence in the finale, this is somewhat understandable. The ending of The Predator sets up a potential war between mankind and the Predators, so it's possible producers wanted to subtly open the door to reintroducing Xenomorphs back in the series.
The comics and video games have shown there’s plenty of potential in the Alien vs. Predator concept, so that’s one angle a follow-up could potentially take. The Alien franchise itself is currently in a holding pattern following the lukewarm box-office of Alien: Covenant, and while Scott has outlined his version for the epic finale of David 8’s (Michael Fassbender) journey, a soft reboot is more likely at this point. Maybe that could lead to another - and hopefully much better - crossover between the two beloved franchises in the future.