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How To Start Watching The Predator Franchise

The "Predator" franchise is one of the most iconic science fiction movie series of all-time, but newcomers could easily get turned off by stories crossing over different media forms. Created in 1987 with "Predator" starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, the soon-to-be series hit the ground running. Fast forwarding to 2022, the franchise spans movies, novels, comic books, and video games, so confusion is understandable.

The "Predator" continuity became more muddled when the series crossed over with the uber-successful "Alien" franchise with two "Alien vs. Predator" movies. Both "AvP" films weren't as successful as hoped for, jeopardizing both franchises' futures. Thankfully, both came back from the failures of the crossover, creating their own paths forward and reclaiming their previous success.

Whether it's to watch the newest hit movie, "Prey," or to prepare for an inevitable future film, there are many reasons to get into the "Predator" franchise. However, fans looking to get into the "Predator" franchise could very easily be confused about the order to watch the series, given its unconventional naming.

Thankfully, we've got you covered on how to watch the "Predator" series in order.

Start off with 1987's Predator

The "Predator" franchise hit the ground running with the legendary 1987 film, simply titled "Predator." Arnold Schwarzenegger starred as Dutch, the leader of an elite military unit tasked with rescuing hostages in a Central American rainforest. His team consists of Al Dillon (Carl Weathers), Mac Elliot (Bill Duke), Poncho (Richard Chaves), and Blain Cooper (Jesse Ventura). The team encounters the deadly Predator alien during their mission, forcing them to fight for their survival in the hostile environment.

Directed by John McTiernan, who also directed "Die Hard," "Predator" is an absolute classic piece of sci-fi cinema filled with iconic scenes, including Dutch and Dillon's legendary handshake.

"Predator" is an incredibly strong start for the franchise, and almost none of the series recaptures the original's magic. Looking back on the making of "Predator," producer John Davis revealed that the film nearly wasn't made, recalling how creators Jim and John Thomas slid the script under the door of a Fox executive (via Variety).

Move on to Predator 2

Calling "Predator 2" a worthy successor to the first movie would be a disservice to the original. However, the sequel isn't nearly as horrific as another film featured later on this list. 

Released in 1990 but set 10 years after the first movie's events, "Predator 2" moves the setting from the terrifying jungles of Central America to sunny Los Angeles. In 1997, a different Predator arrives in Los Angeles and observes the ongoing gang war between the Colombian and Jamaican cartels. Determined police officer Michael Harrigan (Danny Glover) slowly unravels the mysterious deaths of many cartel members, eventually learning about the Predator. He ultimately slays the alien, receiving a flintlock pistol as a gift from other Predators before the species departs the planet. 

"Predator 2," directed by Stephen Hopkins, featured the return of Kevin Peter Hall as the Predator and introduced Gary Busey, Bill Paxton, and María Conchita Alonso to the franchise.  The movie revealed an entire species of Predator aliens, later named the Yautja, who have seemingly visited Earth numerous times throughout history. 

At the time of its release, fans and critics weren't fond of "Predator 2," which has a 31% on Rotten Tomatoes. Over the years, it's become a cult classic, given the franchise's continued box office failures.

Continue the fun with Predators

Following the release of "Predator 2," the franchise entered a bit of a hiatus until the Predator returned in the crossover spin-off "Alien vs. Predator." However, fans do not consider those part of the "Predator" franchise. It wasn't until 2010's "Predators" that the legendary hunter returned for another solo movie.

"Predators" opens up with different individuals from criminal backgrounds falling into a mysterious jungle. After an encounter with aliens, the group deduces they're on another planet where Predators hunt prey. The group finds a camp where three larger Predators hold a smaller one captive. The hunt begins as the group attempts to survive attacks from the three Predators, meeting a survivor who explains how the planet works. The Predators abduct worthy prey from other planets and hunt them here to hone their skills. There's also an inner-species war between the Yauja and the Hish-Qu-Ten clans. The group defeats the three hunters, though most die in the process. The movie ends by showing new prey parachuting down to the planet's surface.

"Predators" features a star-studded cast made up of Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Alice Barga, Walton Goggins, Laurence Fishburne, Danny Trejo, and Mahershala Ali. Earning 65% on Rotten Tomatoes, many critics enjoyed the return to the franchise's action-packed roots after the subpar "Alien vs. Predator" movies.

Prepare yourself for The Predator

After "Predators," 20th Century Studios again put on the franchise hiatus with no new release for eight years. In 2018, the series continued with its fourth installment and another confusing title, "The Predator."

The movie follows an unlikely group of individuals who join together to fight against two invading Predators. After an alien ship crashes onto Earth, the United States government captures a weakened Predator to use in experiments. The alien manages to escape, but not before scientists discover human DNA within its body. The only surviving scientist joins forces with a group of soldiers to hunt down the Predator, who another larger Predator eventually kills. The team deduced the Predators' goal is to improve themselves by using unique DNA found on planets across the galaxy. The Predator kidnaps a child with autism, seeing it as an advancement and worthy candidate to become a hybrid. The group manages to save the kid, with many of them dying along the way. The movie ends with the reveal that the original Predator left an exo-suit for humans to use in their fight against the larger Predators.

"The Predator" featured an all-star cast of Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Jacob Tremblay, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn, Sterling K. Brown, and Thomas Jane. Shane Black, who had a supporting role in the original "Predator," directed the movie. Critics and audiences met "The Predator" with horrible reviews, earning it 33% on Rotten Tomatoes with a 32% audience score, the worst of the entire franchise.

The franchise goes back to its roots with Prey

Following the failure of "The Predator," director Dan Trachtenberg brought the franchise back to what made it great with 2022's "Prey."

The Hulu original film serves as a prequel to the entire series, taking place in 1719 and focusing on a Comanche woman's fight against a Predator. The young native woman, Naru, wants to be a hunter but is forced into the role of a healer by her tribe. She goes hunting on her own where she encounters the Predator. Naru tries to warn her tribe about the otherworldly threat, but they refuse to listen. The Predator eventually makes itself known to everyone, killing many Comanche warriors and French voyageurs in the nearby area. Naru carefully studies the Predator and is able to defeat it, outsmarting it with its own technology.

Unlike many movies, "Prey" featured an all-Native American cast, including Amber Midthunder, Dakota Beavers, and Michelle Thrush, with Dane DiLiegro playing the Predator. "Prey" revitalized the "Predator" franchise, with fans and critics praising the movie. The movie earned a 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, the best of the entire series. The movie was a massive hit with audiences, as Variety reported it was Hulu's biggest premiere ever across movies and TV shows.