Shane Black on creating the Ultimate Predator in The Predator

Over the past thirty years, we’ve come to love the movie monster known as the Predator, but as with most things, a stronger, smarter, and deadlier version is on the way in the form of the Ultimate Predator™ in THE PREDATOR. Shane Black‘s upcoming sequel will bring the franchise back to Earth with a new group of expendable characters who may or may not make it to the end of the film with their spines intact. The threat doesn’t just come from one predator this time around, but also from the new Ultimate Predator™, and Shane Black spoke with Entertainment Weekly about creating the new threat.

If the predator was to be an amalgam of, not just an ordinary predator, but also a collection of traits garnered from the various most powerful species that they’ve hunted, then you basically would have one that is stronger, faster, and smarter. We finally got an image that we liked, which captures this very canny, very cunning, and effortlessly powerful, savage predator. One of the only quibbles that I’ve had with some of the past predators is that, if you’re not careful, it can look like a guy in a football suit; big, bulky guy just stomping around. I wanted a certain more graceful, more light, more athletic quality, literally like a predator. If you watch a cheetah, it’s not clunky.

THE PREDATOR also serves as a return to Shane Black‘s roots, as the writer/director appeared in the first PREDATOR movie as Rick Hawkins, one of the members of Dutch’s (Arnold Schwarzenegger) special forces team. “I think there was a bit of nostalgia involved,” Black told EW in response to being asked why he wanted to make THE PREDATOR. He also wanted to bring back the spirit of the R-rated thrillers of the ’80s.

I remember standing in line in Westwood when I was in college and standing next to me was [The Predator co-writer] Fred Dekker as we waited to see the next sci-fi movie or whatnot. I thought that the ’80s was an interesting time. There are very few R-rated movies now, but there were plenty of R-rated thrillers back then. I started feeling old, I turned 56, I thought, “Jesus Christ, did it really go that fast?’ I thought, I just want to get back to that feeling of being a wide-eyed kid with my pal Fred. As silly as that sounds, I thought we could have some fun, it will be a lark. That’s how foolish I was. Because I thought, “Yeah, we can make a Predator movie, it will be a lark.’ [Laughs] Well, a couple years later with visual effects coming in with dribs and drabs and scrambling, it’s like the most work we’ve ever done, but I like the idea of a movie that is a throwback to a time that the first movie captured so much — not just because I was there on set, but because it was a real defining movie, combining the Rambo craze of that era with the sci-fi Alien craze in a way that for some odd reason has endured for 30 years. I just thought that there was juice there. What is it that the Predator inspires in people that seems to be this perennial that booms every few years and just never goes away?

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We still don’t know what the future holds for the PREDATOR franchise following the release of THE PREDATOR, but if it performs well, I’d imagine that we’ll be seeing more. Although Shane Black teased that “it’s part of the task to always leave room,” he also knows that “it’s important to focus on the movie at hand and not get lost, like day one of a movie and you’re already planning the wrap party. It’s important that we get this one right. But of course we would leave room for continuing this, because as I mentioned, the Predator seems to have this uncanny longevity in the zeitgeist that people like new iterations of it, they like the hunting aspect of it, they break down every aspect of whatever costume he’s wearing this time and make toys of it. It’s strange, but it’s so longstanding and won’t go away.

The official synopsis for THE PREDATOR:

From the outer reaches of space to the small-town streets of suburbia, the hunt comes home in Shane Black‘s explosive reinvention of the Predator series. Now, 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 young 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.

THE PREDATOR will hit theaters on September 14, 2018.