Major SPOILERS ahead for The Predator
If The Predator co-star Olivia Munn was the film's main hero, Shane Black's revival could have fixed the long-running sci-fi/action franchise's female character problem. The Predator is a return to the series that kicked off with John McTiernan's Predator in 1987 - starring Arnold Schwarzenegger in one of his most memorable roles - and continued with Predator 2 in 1990. After the underwhelming response to the sequel, the franchise went in a different direction, crossing over with the Alien franchise for two event films: Alien vs. Predator and Alien vs. Predator: Requiem in 2004 and 2007 respectively. Then, Robert Rodriguez attempted to reinvigorate the solo Predator series with the Nimród Antal-directed Predators in 2010.
The Predator, which sees original co-star Shane Black return in capacity of co-writer and director, is another attempt to relaunch the franchise, this time serving as a direct sequel to the first two films. It follows a team of mentally ill former soldiers, lead by Quinn McKenna (Boyd Holbrook), who team up with Dr. Casey Bracket (Olivia Munn) to take on a Predator that has put Quinn's son in danger. However, things are made difficult by government agent Will Trager (Sterling K. Brown), who wants to keep the Predator secret and study it, as well as the arrival of the Ultimate Predator. Reviews for The Predator were mixed-to-negative among critics, and once the film opened theatrically, it seemed audiences were mixed on it as well.
Related: Screen Rant's Review Of The Predator
Undoubtedly, Holbrook's Quinn is the hero at the center of The Predator - much of the plot revolves around his son, after all - but Munn's Casey serves as a secondary hero, surviving the fight against the Ultimate Predator and providing necessary backup to Quinn in his final battle. In fact, Casey is so much of an action hero in The Predator, that the movie could have positioned her as the central protagonist. Here, we argue that The Predator would have been improved if the revival had gone in this direction, making Dr. Casey Bracket the main hero and Olivia Munn the main star.
- This Page: The Predator Franchise’s Female Character Problem
- Next Page: Casey Bracket's An Improvement & Would've Fixed The Predator
The Predator Franchise’s Female Character Problem
Since the first movie in the Predator franchise, the films have struggled to portray well developed, or even simply non-stereotypical female characters. In the first two movies, the Predator franchise goes out of its way to portray its main female characters as weaker than the male characters - ostensibly so that the Predator in those films won't kill them, but the result is the women appear lesser than the men. In the first film, the Predator doesn't kill Anna (Elpidia Carrillo) because she's an unarmed prisoner of Dutch's (Schwarzenegger) team, and Dutch makes sure she remains unarmed as a way to protect her - thereby taking away any agency she could have in such a dangerous situation.
Predator 2 gives Leona Cantrell (María Conchita Alonso) a little more agency as a detective working alongside new hero Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) and a slightly more developed character, insofar as she's a typical ball-busting guy's girl character. Still, when the sequel truly gets into the action and the Predator starts killing off Mike's team, Leona is spared because of the sudden reveal that she's pregnant - which the Predator learns after attacking and defeating her. Again, it seems to be an overtly contrived excuse for the Predator not to kill the main female character (Predator 2 also includes another woman spared by the Predator, but she's never named and is naked for almost all of her screen time).
Predators arguably features the most well developed female character, and the franchise's closest attempt to feature a woman being the hero prior to The Predator. Alice Braga's sniper Isabelle serves as the moral center of the movie, while the main hero Royce (Adrien Brody) is the lone wolf who eventually puts the good of others above his own self-interest. However, she doesn't have her own character arc so much as she helps Royce along with his. Further, she's treated appallingly by the script, which features Walton Goggins' Stans ogling her butt, then later sees Stans talking about getting home so he can rape women. Both are unnecessary to the movie and are simply used to establish the death row inmate Stans as a dangerous misogynist. Though Isabelle is undoubtedly a strong fighter, she's also relegated to typically feminine roles, playing peacemaker among the group and supporting the "real" hero, Royce.
As for the Alien vs. Predator movies, both do feature strong female characters with arcs of their own. However, since these are crossover films with a franchise known for its well developed and strong female action heroes, it's debatable whether they truly fix the Predator franchise's female character problem or simply adapt to to the Alien tradition. Still, The Predator offered a chance to fix the solo franchise, and instead it missed out on the opportunity.
- The Predator (2018) release date: Sep 14, 2018