Small details you missed in The Predator

The Predator is here, and critics are already ripping it to pieces. Some people say it's too violent, others say there are too many jokes, and nearly everyone agrees that the plot is a shambles. And yet for all that, as of this writing, it still has the third highest Rotten Tomatoes rating of the franchise. Huh.

All said and done, it's a movie about people fighting an alien, and The Predator squeezes nicely into a franchise that's all about that. With five previous Predator movies and dozens of comics, 2018's The Predator had a wealth of material to draw from in its continuing story of mankind's battle against big scary space hunters. Not surprisingly, some of that inspiration hit the big screen in the form of Easter eggs.

These little details may have been easy to miss, but they point to some pretty crazy shared connections in the Predator universe. Buckle up, because we're taking a look at all the small details you missed in The Predator. Spoilers ahead.

Spear appearance

The two Alien vs. Predator films have always been a source of contention among fans. Some insist they're canon, others say they're little more than big-budget fanfic. In 2004's Alien vs. Predator, it's revealed that the predators were breeding the xenomorphs on Earth to serve as the perfect game animals. But then Ridley Scott laid out the aliens' origin story in Prometheus and Alien: Covenant — an origin that included exactly zero predators — and basically retconned the entire idea of centuries-old xenomorphs hibernating in Antarctica.

Enter Shane Black, who reassured fans in 2018 that as far as The Predator was concerned, they were all fair game for the movie's mythos. Basically, screw you, Alien: Covenant. But more than simply saying it, he included an Easter egg from Alien vs. Predator in his new movie. When Casey Bracket first enters the secret government lab, she walks past two display cases. One of them showcases several predator weapons, while the other contains the spear made from a xenomorph tail that appeared in Alien vs. Predator.

Cinematic screenshots

Another nod to the earlier films happens in the same scene where Casey sees the spear relic. Once she's inside the main part of the lab, Traeger hands her a tablet that sums up everything they know about the alien hunters. As she's flipping through the pictures, you can catch a brief glimpse of screenshots from the first two Predator films.

The first one features the so-called Jungle Hunter, the predator Arnold Schwarzenegger's Dutch took down in 1987's Predator. Immediately after that, you can see a brief shot of the predator who terrorized Los Angeles in 1990's Predator 2. It's a super quick moment that fans of the franchise can appreciate, but that's not the bottom of the rabbit hole. As Traeger keeps talking, he brings up even more obscure references to mankind's past encounters with the predators.

Been here before

As Traeger continues his lengthy explanation of the predators, he drops an interesting line, saying, "They've been here before — '87, '97…"

Obviously, '87 refers to 1987, the year the first Predator was released. But where does that '97 come from? Well, two potential places. Although Predator 2 was released in 1990, its story is set in 1997. That's the obvious connection, but this reference might go even deeper.

Starting with Predator: Concrete Jungle in 1989, there have also been a ton of Predator comic books and novelizations. One of those was Predator: Kindred, which started hitting stores in — you guessed it — 1997. Released as a four-part series, Kindred details a predator's arrival in a small, quiet town. Buddy Wilcox, a war vet who's slowly messing up his family life, gets caught up in the fight. Meanwhile, a criminal named McClutcheon escapes from custody and has his own run-ins with the predator while he's a fugitive.

Sound familiar? Put both of those characters together, and you basically have Quinn McKenna — a war vet with a failing marriage who has to fight the predator in a small town while he's on the run from the government. The comic even has a prison transport bus that looks a lot like the one we see in the film. If that's Shane Black's idea of a nod to his story's inspiration, it's definitely a subtle one.

Family ties

Not content to simply mention past Predator films, Shane Black also added at least one solid connection to The Predator's predecessors. In the early lab scenes, we meet a bespectacled scientist named Shawn Keyes. He bites it pretty early when their captive predator escapes and massacres the lab guys, but if there's one thing we're sure of, it's that his dad probably would have been proud of the way he went out.

If the name Keyes sounds at all familiar, you may have watched Predator 2 recently. In that film, Gary Busey plays Peter Keyes, a CIA agent who wants to capture the predator alive. It doesn't work out, and he gets cut in half for his troubles, but apparently not before siring a son. Actor Jake Busey, who plays Shawn Keyes, confirmed in an interview that his character was indeed the son of Peter Keyes. It makes sense — he looks just like him, which isn't surprising at all, since Jake Busey is Gary Busey's real son.

Tech upgrades

For all those callbacks to earlier films, 2018's The Predator did make one smart change to the spine-gatherers — their tech. Sure, you could say that giving the aliens better weapons, better ships, and better armor gives the story a narrative boost. It's a sequel —  the bad guys are supposed to be harder to kill.

But it also makes sense within the framework of the Predator universe. After all, human technology has gotten a lot better since the '80s. We've upped the game on everything from phones to litter boxes, and it'd be a weird twist if 2018's predator was stalking the suburbs in the same armor his '80s kin was using. It'd be like trying to impress all your friends with a shiny new Ford Pinto, or a tamagotchi.

To that effect, 2018's predator has plenty of little tweaks in his gear set, with everything from his bio-mask to his thermal vision to his shoulder-mounted plasmacaster updated for the modern day. Even before we're introduced to the bigger, badder hybrid predator, it's clear that the newly outfitted hunter is going to be a much more formidable foe than the one Arnie fought. You won't be able to hide in the mud to get away from this one.

What's in a name?

It's not unusual for movies to place little nods to the men and women working behind the scenes, but The Predator manages to pull off a big one, then hides it right in plain sight.

During the scenes at Rory's school, you can clearly see the name of the institution both above the front door and on the lit sign out front: Lawrence A. Gordon Middle School. No surprise – that's not an actual school. It's a reference to producer Lawrence Gordon, who worked on the first two Predator films, as well as the 2018 one.

In fact, Gordon has been part of the production team on action movies since the '70s, producing everything from Xanadu to Die Hard to the upcoming Hellboy reboot. Now, he's been immortalized forever as a school that gets torn apart by a bloodthirsty alien.

Math lesson

During the showdown between Quinn and Traeger near the end of the film, things turn into a brief standoff, with both sides hunkered down behind vehicles. In an attempt to defuse the situation, Traeger shouts out for Quinn to surrender, saying "it's six vs. seven."

Immediately, a bullet flies, catching one of Traeger's men in the head, and Quinn quips, "Who taught you math?"

Like a lot of the movie, it's played for laughs, but it's also a subtle callback to one of Shane Black's previous movies – Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang. In that 2004 detective comedy, Robert Downey Jr. plays Harry Lockhart, a bumbling thief who gets drawn into a murder mystery while taking detective lessons from Val Kilmer's character. Trying to get some information from a bad guy, Harry puts a single bullet in a revolver and pulls the trigger. His plan is to scare the thug into talking, but he just shoots him in the head instead.

Shocked, he quickly tries to calculate the odds of the bullet actually shooting on the first try, while Val Kilmer angrily shouts, "Who taught you math?"

Guess the best jokes are the ones you repeat over and over.