Today at Comic-Con, Fox unveiled the first extended footage for Shane Black‘s The Predator during the studio’s Hall H panel, and I’ve never been more certain that this movie is going to be super divisive among franchise fans. This is a Shane Black movie with all the quipping and snarking that comes with that descriptor, and Black is playing free and loose with the mythology in a way that has proven to drive traditionalist fans nuts. Me? I am way the hell here for it.
For the Hall H panel, 20th Century Fox trotted out Black alongside castmembers Keegan-Michael Key, Thomas Jane. Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, Trevante Rhodes, Augusto Aguilera, and Jake Busey. After the cast introductions, the panel jumps onto a discussion of predator vs. [fill-in-the-blank] debates, which was apparently one of the cast’s favorite ways to pass the time on set. The Predator vs. The Rock? Brown gives it to the Rock. Johnny Utah? He dead. “The Predator would just rip him in half,” Key says. Aguilera gives the win to Yoda, — “He’s got the force.” The Predator vs. Ash Williams? Turns out Brown hasn’t seen Evil Dead, and yeah, that got a gasp/groan from the audience. Key steps in, “Ash is crafty, slower than he used to be but crafty. I think Ash can win that one if it’s in a creepy cabin.” As for Black? He confesses later that he thinks all these contenders would be dead. The Predator wins. Who does he give it to? Ellen Ripley. “She’d find a way.”
After the round of Predator-Vs, Fox unveils the first footage from the movie and guys, it’s absolutely downright hilarious. Which some of you are gonna love, and some of you are probably going to hate. If you’ve seen Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and The Nice Guys, you know he’s a filmmaker who wields dialogue like a cutting whip, and it turns out the ensemble structure suits his writing talents just as well as the two-hander.
The first scene we see comes from early in the film, when the so-call Loonies (the team of ex-soldiers who wind up on an outmatched hunt for the Predator) meet Munn’s biologist Casey Brackett. She’s lying passed out on the bed and the Loonies are scattering trinkets and vending machine treats around her. “We’re trying to make her feel comfortable,” they explain when Holbrook asks them what the fuck they’re doing. These are weird guys.
When she wakes up, the Loonies try to act natural, shuffling and adjusting in front of her, attempting to strike a casual pose. “Morning sunshine,” Holbrook says like the classic cinematic tough guy. “I really wish people would stop calling me that,” she retorts. Then immediately, she lunges for the shotgun on the side of the bed and cocks, aim steady. The Loonies hoot and holler in appreciation. “I told you she’d grab it,” Key shouts enthusiastically. “Ten bucks, pay up!” Boyd walks up to her and tries to take the gun off her, but she’s not giving it up. They have a bit of a struggle, tugging back and forth, and she pulls the trigger. The Loonies gasp in unison, a greek chorus of goofballs. “Shit, I told you she’d pull the trigger,” Key enthuses, “Shoulda bet on that.” Holbrook snaps her on the nose and calls her a “ding dong,” taking the gun away as the Loonies sound off in unison, “I like her!”
She makes a move to the door and Holbrook tells her that the government was going to put a bullet in her head. She stops turning the door knob. That’s when Jane, who plays a PTSD vet with Tourettes, shouts out “Eat your pussy!” A look of shock and disgust crosses her face as a classic bit of Black’s overlapping dialogue plays out while the Loonies try to explain what happened. “He didn’t mean your pussy,” etc. etc. This is probably going to offend a lot of people, but I’m going to wait to see it in the full context of the film to make any judgments. For her part, Munn is insistent this is one of the strongest roles she’s had the opportunity to play.
She gets back to business, but first snaps back at Jane, “Stay the fuck away from me.” Why was the government going to kill her? Holbrook holds up a mystery vial — something she invented or discovered maybe, we don’t know yet. She looks on the bed and finds a unicorn made of foil laying among the trinkets. “What is this?” Aguilera looks dopey and sad, “I made you a unicorn. Sorry it’s a piece of shit.” The acting newcomer gets a huge laugh from the audience.
After that we mostly get exposition, but delivered in Black’s amusing dialogue. Munn is a biologist and they have her on call in case there’s….contact. “What did I tell you?” Shouts Jane. Aguilera talks about fire and brimstone and Key snaps, “ If you don’t stop talking about this bible shit, I’m going to set you on fire.” We learn that Holbrook’s character was a patsy for some of the Predator’s violent misdeeds in Mexico. Munn gives them the details, “It’s called a Predator and it hunts people for sport.” Rhodes chimes in, “Technically, that’s not a predator.” Munn finally finds someone she sees eye to eye with. “Thank you!” She says, “I said that earlier!” Finally, we learn one last key detail — Holbrook stole the Predator’s gear. End scene.
The footage is a doozy and it has the audience in stitches. This stuff has all the personality I wanted to see in the trailers and didn’t get. It’s the most excited I’ve been for this film since it was announced Black was writing and directing. After the first round of footage we get a brief interstitial bit of Q&A where Black explains that the film will see the traditional Predator hunted down by a bigger, badder version of the alien creatures that aren’t opposed to “‘roiding” so to speak, and taking qualities from the species they’ve hunted down. “They’re fast, they’re deadly, they’re lithe,” Black explains, “They strike and retreat with blood-fucking-curling efficiency.” So does that mean there’s a little Xenomorph in this Predator? Not exactly, Black clarifies that The Predator exists as a sequel to all the other films, but that this specific creation is more of a deadly cocktail designed as an assassin by a specific group of Predators. Don’t expect a chest burster, he says.
Next, we get to see that mutated Predator in action. A shorter, more action-heavy clip is cued up and we find the Loonies in a school, where it looks like Holbrook is collecting his son, played by Jacob Tremblay. They’re in the school hallway when they hear slow, pounding footsteps coming down the hall, the shadow of a giant Predator looms through the windows on their side and in an instant, a Predator pops up behind Holbrook and grabs him by the throat. Munn pushes Tremblay behind her in a protective stance and she’s thrown to the ground. Suddently an even bigger, more terrifying Predator pops up in the window and grabs the other Predator by the throat. He hurls the little guy out the window. Now we’re getting some Predator vs. Predator shit. The ultimate Predator-Vs.
The Loonies are outside waiting. They level their guns and back away toward their bus. We get some Predator vision as the small guy fires a missile at the big beast. He’s throwing ‘bows at the giant while the Loonies escape on the bus, shouting “We gotta movie, come on!” The smaller predator gets absolutely thrashed, beaten to a pulp and laid out on top of a car. The big guy rips of his mask, smashes his face in, and then, rips off his whole damn head, leaving green, gooey blood spilling everywhere. End scene.
So that’s the major stuff, and in all honesty, I was very into it. But this movie is definitely going to have fans divided between traditionalists and those who don’t mind a movie that plays a little more fast and loose. What do you guys think? Were you in the panel? Does this sound fun or way off base for you? Sound off in the comments and stay tuned for more coverage out of SDCC.