The Predator’s extraterrestrial monster may look the same, but the humans definitely don’t.
When Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, he couldn’t have known that somewhere around chapter four, he’d give rise to one of Hollywood’s most enduring tropes some 100 years into the future.
Coining the phrase ‘survival of the fittest’, Darwin referred to natural selection that allowed species to thrive. While we’re pretty sure the scientist didn’t quite intend for his phrasing to be taken so literally, it has become a cliché in the cinematic action genre.
We only have to look at 1987’s Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger – or any film with Arnie in it – to get a sense of what that means. An Adonis-like physique with the will – or good luck – to survive a life-or-death scenario, the muscle-man cookie cutter mould continues to cut easily-assembled heroes from the likes of Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine to Chris Hemsworth’s Thor.
But it was only when Hollywood’s obsession with the trope led to a very real problem that we started taking a deeper look into things. Colloquially named ‘bigorexia’, muscle dysphoria is a modern body image disorder that leads men, poisoned by years of visual conditioning, to strive for unrealistic body goals.
This visual legacy is something that The Predator, set for release on 13th September,
is trying to avoid.
When a small boy accidentally triggers an alert that brings the aliens back to Earth for another human stalking, it’s up to a scientist and a group of war-ravaged soldiers with various physical and mental issues to bring them down.
To put things into perspective, the previous Predators went toe-to-toe with good old Arnie, and lost – but only narrowly. So what hope do a science teacher and a group of veterans with post traumatic stress disorder have in defending the future of the human race?
“I always favour real characters with real actors in these movies,” he noted in an interview with comingsoon.net. “But, the actors we tended to get for this are a cut above I think, the average tough guy.
“I guess it was a reaction against perfection and the Predator going up against a perfect specimen all the time,” he added. “And that being solely based on physical appearance and muscles and I thought, well, maybe there’s a version in which misfits play more of a role.”
But while he may have done away with the muscle-man trope, fans of the films will be heartened to hear that some aspects of the franchise will remain the same.
“We just tried to take the existing mythology and take it a step further,” he noted. “Ask some questions about why? Why Predators do what they do? Who are the soldiers? How are they different? What’s the heroic quotient and how do you make it not just guys with tough talk and big arms?”
Only time will tell if Black’s motley crew are successful or not, but we’re sure the Predator’s instinct to kill means it’s not as discerning, perhaps, as the cinema-going public on that one.
Starring: Boyd Holbrook, Trevante Rhodes, Keegan-Michael Key, Olivia Munn and Brian
Running time: 110 mins
Final Score (PG 15)
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WORDS Camille Hogg