‘The Predator’ Teases Battling Aliens at Gory Comic-Con Panel

The predators, those lithe, cunning, befanged extraterrestrials at the heart of the three-decade-old horror franchise, aren’t just content hunting humans. They’re turning on each other now.

The Predator,” Shane Black’s upcoming entry in the series, finds the creatures locked in deadly battle with one another. In a gory scene teased on Thursday at San Diego Comic-Con, Boyd Holbrook, playing a damaged military vet; Jacob Tremblay, as his young son; and Olivia Munn, portraying a shifty scientist, are able to escape their alien pursuer because an even more menacing predator steps in and swipes their attacker aside.

But it’s not a battle of equals. One predator towers over the other — it’s bigger, badder, and far more deadly.

“Are they hunting each other now?” Munn’s character asks as the genetically enhanced predator rips the head off its brethren, leaving the other predator to bleed out.

Black, the film’s writer and director, said the creatures in this film are different from the one featured in the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger pic, “Predator,” and in the 1990 followup, “Predator 2.”

Revenge has motivated the creatures to get stronger. Black said the predators keep sending warriors, he called them “champions,” to Earth, only to see them killed off. And they’re angry. This time, they’ve taken the extra step of genetically enhancing a new invader.

“They want to punch back and they’re not above a little bit of roiding, so to speak,” Black said.

Black was flanked on stage by Munn, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Augusto Aguilera, Sterling K. Brown, Thomas Jane, and Jake Busey. Most of the cast members play soldiers who are battling PTSD from tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. They’re a jokey bunch, who do a lot of hazing, but they’re also struggling. Black said he wanted to make a sort of “Dirty Half Dozen,” and have the film be about “misfits who have to band together.”

The on-screen joshing extended to the panel. Much time was spent speculating about ways to tell the difference between male and female predators (the number of spikes on the head is the apparent giveaway), as well as imagining the creatures’ dating lives. Key said it needed to prove it could change before it was ready for a relationship, but noted, “it’s hard when you’re born and raised in a violent culture.”

The cast and writer-director also debated who would win in hypothetical match-ups between the predator and other geek culture icons. Ripley, Thanos, and John Wick fared well, but the Punisher, who Jane portrayed on screen, apparently would be pulverized.

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