Growing up in the ’80s meant there was no shortage of steroid infused Hollywood masculinity on my father’s 32-inch tube television (I know, fancy right?). John Matrix carrying an entire tree on his shoulder in the opening scene of Commando; John J. Rambo riding horseback in slow motion, wind flowing through his mullet as he aided the Afghani rebels in Rambo III; John McClane wisecracking in the face of certain doom on Christmas Eve ’88, as Hans and his merry band crashed the party in Die Hard – it was a glorious time for the action genre, and especially for Arnold Schwarzenegger.
During this decade of explosions and over-indulgence, Arnold starred in one movie that stood out above the rest. More pure testosterone than Over the Top, more one-liners than Cobra, and the most intimidating handshake greeting ever committed to film. A movie that saw the future Governator team up with Apollo Creed and Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura to make up part of a Special Forces unit that gets pitted against the ultimate extraterrestrial hunter. A movie we know as the 1987 John McTiernan-directed Predator.
Well, that original Predator movie not only spawned 4 sequels, along with countless comics, games, and collectibles, but the cast also featured a young up-and-comer named Shane Black, who fans will recognize as Hawkins. Well, Mr. Black had one hell of a 1987. Not only did he appear in Predator, but he wrote a couple classics by the names of The Monster Squad and Lethal Weapon. Over the years he would enjoy continued success within the action genre, penning screenplays for The Last Boy Scout, Last Action Hero, and The Long Kiss Goodnight, and then adding ‘Director’ to his resume with 2005’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. More recently he wrote and directed last year’s The Nice Guys, and now he’s hard at work on another Predator flick.
The Predator, which is slated for release sometime in 2018, is being written by Black, and his The Monster Squad co-writer, Fred Dekker. This will mark Shane Black’s first return to the franchise since that original film 30 years ago. But he might not be returning by himself. Rumors have been circulating for quite some time that Schwarzenegger might actually reprise his role in this latest installment, which is a sequel as opposed to a reboot, and that would mark the first time his character – Major Alan “Dutch” Schaefer – has appeared in the films since ’87, though he was referenced in 2010’s Predators. His involvement is far from a sure thing though. When asked about it in 2016, by The Arnold Fans, he had this to say:
I haven’t talked with him (Shane Black) yet, but I’m going to meet with him for lunch sometime soon. Just as soon as I’m finished with this (Arnold’s Sports Festival) and The Apprentice, and all this stuff. But I will get together with him. If there is any news, we’ll of course let you know right away.
So while we wait on news of Dutch’s return, the rest of the cast is starting to fill out. The biggest names to have signed on at this point would be Olivia Munn and Keegan-Michael Key.
Munn first made a name for herself as a professional geek on G4’s Attack of the Show. Her distinctive look and outgoing attitude went on to make her the subject of infatuation for many fanboys worldwide, while drawing the ire of others who thought her disingenuous (I was never in that camp). Since that time, she’s built quite the resume. She spent time as a correspondent on The Daily Show with John Stewart, appeared in two Broken Lizard movies (The Slammin’ Salmon and The Babymakers), and had parts in major films like Iron Man 2, Magic Mike, and Date Night. More recently, she was cast as Psylocke in the hugely disappointing X-Men: Apocalypse and is set to appear in Ocean’s Eight. Though, the role where she shined the brightest, was as Sloan Sabbith on HBO’s The Newsroom.
We don’t yet know anything about the story of the movie, outside of the fact it will feature a Predator, so in turn we don’t know anything about the character Munn will be playing yet either, despite rumors she might be a scientist? That also goes for Mr. Key (and everyone else).
Keegan-Michael Key is most famous for his Comedy Central show Key and Peele, but he’s been rather busy the last few years adding to his list of achievements. Prior to his own show, Key appeared on MADtv, The League, and Reno 911! Since hitting it big on the sketch show, it seems like he’s been working pretty much non-stop, but The Predator will be an entirely different kind of project for the actor.
The rest of the so-far announced cast includes Boyd Holbrook (Narcos, Logan), who will likely be our lead, given he has more of an action background. Trevante Rhodes (Moonlight, Westworld), and there are rumors that Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson might make an appearance too. It was announced over the weekend that Sterling K. Brown is in talks to join the cast as well. Brown just won an Emmy for his work on The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story where he played Christopher Darden. He also currently stars on the NBC melodrama This Is Us as Randall Pearson (below), and will show up for Marvel Studios in 2018’s Black Panther as N’Jobu.
And the last bit of casting news, THR is reporting Thomas Jane (The Expanse) is now in negotiations to appear as well. He would immediately become one of the biggest names in the cast should he in fact sign on, which seems probable. Over the past 20 years, Jane has shown an ability to fit into a wide range of roles, be it of the comedic variety with Hung, Arrested Development, and Scott Pilgrim vs The World, or more action fueled roles like The Mist, Deep Blue Sea, and of course – The Punisher. Expect him to play the “shaddy, grizzled veteran we don’t trust” or “the mentor who dies tragically, and too early.”
In an October interview with Collider, Shane Black said filming, which was supposed to start before Halloween, is now set to begin in February of 2017, in Vancouver. He also assured fans they would be returning to the franchise roots, and releasing an R-rated feature:
“Fox has been very cooperative. I mean part of it is the success they had with Deadpool, but I also made a case—and I think they agreed—that fans of the Predator generally, probably aren’t looking to go to see a PG-13-rated version of it. It would be more of a letdown if it was sort of tailored to a family friendly audience than if it were allowed to play out to the same scale and level that the first R-rated one did.”
That’s pretty good news considering this isn’t a movie that should be held to the constraints of a PG-13 rating, which is something a lot of fans feared.
The Predator is scheduled for release February 9, 2018.
Images: 20th Century Fox, HBO, NBC, Comedy Central