Asa movie villain, the Predator there are quite a few underlying motives. He is an alien who comes to Earth to hunt for fun with some cool gadgets. He can turn invisible, but he can’t see his targets, he can only sense their body heat. In the years since 1987 Predator came out, the filmmakers tried to create a backstory for him and expand his world. But honestly, trying to quote-unquote the explanation Predator never fails to be kind of lame, and it’s director Dan Trachtenberg’s new reboot, Lootbecomes upright.
Lootwhich debuted solely on Hulu, keeps things simple: Girl and Dog vs. Predator. The clever twist is that this isn’t happening in the present day, but in 1719 on the Northern Great Plains. The young woman (played with strength by Amber Midthunder) is a Comanche and tries to prove that she can hunt just as well as the men around her. It’s an archetypal narrative—almost Disney princesses-esque—thrown over a Predator movie with all the green goo and ridiculous murders involved. And the result is a pretty fun, albeit tonal mix of goofiness and gorgeous scenery.
Here’s what you need to know about how the Predator’s greatest enemy evolved from a bodybuilder in the middle of the jungle to an 18th-century Comanche woman.
The origin of the franchise
Midthunder as Naru
The Predator first started walking in the 1987 film directed by John McTiernan and starring, of course, Arnold Schwarzenegger. The bulky Austrian action star plays Dutch, a commando who is part of a team sent to unidentified but coded as a Central American jungle to deal with a communist insurgency that goes awry when, surprise surprise, there’s an alien on the loose, skinning people alive and killing for fun. (What is it for deserves it, the movie was filmed in Mexico.) It’s slyer and slyer than you might remember, as much a covert subversion of macho posturing as a celebration of it—and critics have been kinder to the film over time. Yes, Dutch is the biggest man among a bunch of big men, but in the end, he defeats his enemy with brains, not ammo. Nearly $100 million in ticket sales later, a franchise was born.
In 1990 Predator 2 pitted the Predator against Los Angeles and introduced more of the creature’s mythology — including the detail that he wields an 18th-century flintlock pistol as a trophy. Trachtenberg explained in an interview with UPROXX that retro firearm was how Loot landed on its historical setting.
After more than a decade of dormancy, the Predator and his cohorts were resurrected to face the Xenomorphs of Extraterrestrial movies in Alien vs. Predator spinoffs and then rebooted twice with the 2010s Predators and 2018 The predator. The last film – directed by Shane Black, which appeared in 1987 Predator— is clearly designed to create sequels which never actually materialized after that controversybad reviews and a light box office.
Meanwhile, Trachtenberg was working on Loot—written by Patrick Eason—since around 2016. The original idea was to preserve the fact that it’s even Predator the film is a secret, as Trachtenberg had previously done with 10 Cloverfield Lane, but the ruse was revealed in 2020.
A new setting for a familiar tale
Cody Big Tobacco, Dakota Beavers, Stormy Kip, Skye Pelletier and Tymon Carter
Midthunder, a local artist best known for her work on The CW television series Roswell, New Mexico, is Naru, who longs to be seen as a hunter, even though she is tasked with making healing balms alongside her mother (Michelle Thrush). When a member of her tribe is attacked by what the other men think is a mountain lion, Naru realizes that there is something bigger and badder roaming the plains. No one – including her brother (Dakota Beavers) – believes her, so she sets off with her loyal dog Sari (a very good dog) to take down the Predator alone and achieve what is called Ku̵htaamiaa rite of passage in which the hunter is celebrated for defeating a large beast.
Along the way, she encounters resistance from doubters in her own community and a group of evil French trappers who shout “merde” with such stereotypical exuberance they might as well have stepped out of a Monty Python sketch. Their deaths at the hands of our alien friend are the most wonderfully exaggerated, as they meet well-deserved and creatively bloody ends.
Sometimes this silliness clashes with Trachtenberg and his cinematographer Jeff Cutter’s desire to create visually gorgeous images. The drone shots of Naru and Sarii walking across open fields are eerily beautiful, the emptiness of space pierced by the tiny figures. Take these shots out of context and you might think you’re watching a completely different movie—one where an alien isn’t stomping around killing for sport. There’s even something, dare I say, Malikian about the way Cutter and Trachtenberg take over Nakoda’s land in Calgary, where they set up the action.
Bringing cultural specificity to a monster franchise
Dane Diligro as The Predator
The filmmakers, including Comanche and Blackfeet producer Jhane Myers, worked with Comanche consultant Juanita Pahdopony, and the result is a product that may not be entirely historically accurate – (there’s a Predator) – but also largely respectful. Along with the press release version of the film, which is largely in English with a few bits of Comanche sprinkled throughout, Hulu will also provide a full Comanche dub. “This movie resets a lot of paradigms, and one of them is the language component,” Myers said ComicBook.com in an interview.
At the same time, perhaps the most radical thing about Loot is that it is a Predator a film, basic, but with an almost entirely local cast. In different Predator sequels The Predator himself, here played by Dane DiLiegro, tends to overshadow the people sparring against him, all of whom stand in the shadow of Schwarzenegger from McTiernan’s original. However, Naru stands his ground. She’s the anti-Arnold in the best way, the type of heroine who knows she can be underestimated and uses that to her advantage. She also kicks ass and has an adorable dog. It’s a winning formula.
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