"If it bleeds, we can kill it." It’s an insightful observation not only drawn by Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s Dutch in the original 1987 film "Predator," but also by Taabe (Dakota Beavers), a warrior of the Comanche nation in the latest addition to the alien hunter saga, "Prey." The famous movie monster — also known as the Yautja — is remarkable for its fearsome tactics as a hunter of all manner of beasts, especially humankind. As a species that is set on enjoying the sport of hunting, it typically targets the most capable among us. The Predator wants a challenge, but the fact of the matter is it’s simply too strong and well-equipped. Oftentimes, it’s racks up a rather high body count before someone finally bests it in combat.
Predators aren’t only known for their strength and bloodthirsty nature. They’re like Batman on steroids, outfitted with countless gadgets and assorted tools that are all used as harbingers of death. They’re a technologically-savvy race — after all, they’re capable of interstellar travel. Since their race is fueled by the hunt, it’s only logical that they use their technological prowess to enhance their lethal capabilities. Let’s take a look at the filmography of this popular movie monster and find the best gadgets and weapons in the species’ arsenal.
Hunters never leave home without a hunting knife, if only as a means to dress the animal after the kill. However, just like the hunter’s knife, a Predator never disembarks his ship without a nifty set of wrist blades — and these puppies are definitely meant for up-close and personal encounters. Since the original 1987 film, every Predator has done battle with a set of wrist blades. Some Predators have even taken their wrist blades to the next level, like the Predators seen in the first "Alien vs. Predator" film. These alien hunters practically have swords attached to their wrists. In fact, it’s a wonder that they can even maneuver with wrist blades as big as the ones seen in "AvP."
As far iconic weaponry is concerned, wrist blades are a true staple of the Predator’s arsenal. They don’t just maim and kill, they also help work just as effectively in skinning the kill and claiming a souvenir for the good ol’ trophy wall back in the cozy cabin of the Predator ship. In short, never get close to a Predator. Actually, you don’t want to be at a distance from them, either, for other reasons that we’ll get into. Basically, if you see a Predator you’re probably dead meat.
Remember how we said you didn’t want to be at a distance from a Predator? Well, this would be why. It seems the creature has both close quarters and long distance combat locked up nice and tight with its deadly arsenal. The shoulder cannon is an ultra-accurate firearm that targets and shoots a deadly explosive or plasma-like blast at the Predator’s target. It actually seems rather cheap, as the Predator doesn’t have to do any of the legwork — the shoulder cannon seemingly targets hostiles all on its own. Its usage is usually preceded by the iconic trio of dots used as a laser targeting system.
"Prey" appears to be the only film where a shoulder cannon isn’t used, as it likely doesn’t exist yet in the Predator’s arsenal. (The targeting system is still in play, but is utilized by a weapon within the mask instead.) However, the original 1987 film shows just how devastating the shoulder cannons can be. Jesse Ventura’s Blain has a hole punched through the middle of his torso. Then, Bill Duke’s Mac thinks he has the drop on the creature just before the targeting system zeroes in on him. Promptly, his head is popped like a grape squeezed between two fingers. It doesn’t look like a fun way to go.
It feels like an ancient weapon, but one that is fitting for an alien species dead set on enjoying the thrill of the hunt. The spear is used on multiple occasions throughout Predator history, typically seen as shorter shaft before extending into a full length battle-ready spear so the Predator can carry it around portably with ease. While the Predator didn’t use the spear in the original film, the weapon made its memorable debut in 1990’s "Predator 2." In traditional "Predator" lore, the spear is referred to as a Combistick. However, in "Alien vs. Predator," a spear makes a return but not exactly in the same form. While a Combistick is initially used, the Predator later creates a spear out of a Xenormorph tail.
In "Prey," the predator actively uses a spear-like weapon that is likely a primitive version of the Combistick we’ve seen in the later films. It appears to have two separate pieces that can attach together to form a spear or bladed staff, but the two parts can be separated and dual-wielded at the Predator’s convenience. One of the Comanche warriors in Taabe’s party finds this out the hard way as he’s impaled against a fallen tree with the spear. It’s a pretty slick weapon that claims a lot of lives.
What could be more practical as a hunting device than a deadly frisbee? Well, Predators have constructed just that for use during a hunt. Okay, so using the word "frisbee" might be a bit of an oversimplification, but it’s hard to ignore the resemblance. The disc does seem to have a layer of advanced technology imbued in its design, as it can target hostile forces and even returns to the Predator after doing the deed. "Predator 2" is the first time such a weapon is seen in the movie franchise, playing a memorable role in the climax. In the ice cold meat locker near the end of the film, Special Agent Keyes (Gary Busey) is bisected in a grisly sequence in which the Predator outsmarts and nearly kills the entire unit. Lieutenant Mike Harrigan (Danny Glover) later takes the disc and ultimately slays the Predator with its own weapon by simply gripping the disc and manually plunging it into the beast’s torso.
Other iterations of the bladed disc are seen in cinematic "Predator" history. In the much-reviled "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem," a disc with multiple blades poking out around the exterior is used in one of the film’s most startlingly humorous kills, in which an overconfident teen girl runs right into the device. This time, however, the disc pins her to the wall, acting more like a high-tech ninja star than a self-returning bladed disc.
In the remote jungles of Central America, Dutch (Arnold Schwarzenegger) and his mercenary crew embark on a search and rescue operation. This is the basis for the 1987 film that started it all. These commandos think they’re well aware of the danger they’re in for — heavily fortified and armed hostile units populate the jungle and surround the target. Surely a gun fight will ensue, and there will be casualties. But a third party enters the fray, apparently attracted by the unfolding conflict. It doesn’t have allegiances, and it most certainly doesn’t pick sides. Any armed combatant is fair game in the great hunt.
Across all the hardened, gun-toting individuals walking the jungle, Dutch outlasts them all. He has a bone to pick with this alien hunter who’s seemingly obliterated his entire team. Using his wits, he bests the Predator in a game of cat and mouse. Of course, the Predator won’t go down quietly — choking on its own blood, it activates a device on its gauntlet that appears to be a countdown timer. Once the Predator laughs maniacally, Dutch realizes what’s going on: He’s about to be blown to kingdom come. With his enemy denying him a victory lap, Dutch has to sprint for survival to escape the Predator’s self-destruct strategy. After detonating, the explosive appears to have the same effect as small tactical nuclear weapon. It’s a devastating device that ensures the Predator vaporizes not just his own technology, but any living thing in the area. This helps ensure that these aliens remain nothing more and nothing less than a mysterious legend to any culture that may have encountered them.
Nearly 300 years before Dutch’s opponent took out a huge swath of jungle with a massive final explosion, the Predator of the "Prey" era used explosive drones that emerged from his gauntlet and sought out hostile targets. It’s a devastating one-shot kill sure to vaporize any lifeform contained within its blast.
In "Prey," the alien hunter employs the use of this weapon during a fight with French fur trappers. Earlier in the film, this band of ruffians had captured Naru and attempted to squeeze information from her about her encounter with the beast. Refusing to aid their cause, she and her brother Taabe are strapped to a tree and used as bait for the intelligent otherworldly hunter. Of course, Naru is the only one who realizes how stupid a move this is for the fur trappers, as the Predator clearly doesn’t want to kill anything that’s not a challenge.
Instead, the hunter pursues the fur trappers lying in wait and begins systematically slaughtering them one by one. Towards the end of the massacre, the Predator finishes off the last men standing by leaving behind its gauntlet. Curious, the fur trappers inspect the device. Apparently, the proper "flight" instinct doesn’t quite register in their brains, which have never had to contend with anything electronic before. They’re caught completely off-guard as three drones appear and target the poor saps for destruction.
"Prey" manages to breathe fresh life into the franchise while still feeling every bit like a "Predator" movie. One of the many ways it does this is by introducing us to one of the coolest defensive gadgets ever used by these cunning hunters. This Yautja has a fancy shield tucked away in one of its gauntlets. When engaged by enemy fire, it can unfurl the shield at a moment’s notice. It can also be used offensively. After tangling with a group of fur trappers, the Predator pins one against a tree in a choke hold. Here it activates the shield, which emerges from its gauntlet and decapitates the man. It’s a grisly (but undeniably cool) finisher the likes of we’ve never seen in the "Predator" franchise before.
Interestingly enough, this shield has a rather distinct inspiration, as director Dan Trachtenberg explained to ComicBook.com. "I teased a while ago that I took inspiration from the latest ‘God of War’ video game, and those two things are in the trailer," he said. "One is his shield, that you see briefly." Fans of the popular 2018 video game know that protagonist Kratos makes use of a slick shield that unfolds from a wrist gauntlet. It seems Trachtenberg is a bit of a gamer, and he found the perfect place to fold the particular brutality of "God of War" into "Prey."
Constricting net gun
As a hunter, any gadget that can stop its target in its tracks would be most useful, enabling the Predator to deliver a finishing blow with ease. One particular weapon in the Predator’s arsenal is the net gun, which can actually be lethal all on its own, depending on the target. The first use of this weapon on screen came in "Predator 2." When the Predator assaults a cartel in the high-rise apartment in Los Angeles, he uses this net gun on one of the gang members. The net pins the man to the wall and appears to constrict so tightly that it begins cutting through the man’s face.
The net gun is employed once again in the first "Alien vs. Predator" film, in which a Yautja uses it on a Xenomorph. As the net constricts around the alien, its acidic blood saves it from total annihilation as it eats away through the net. The alien is then later seen in the film with a cross-hatch scarring on its head from the net.
"Prey" shows us the earliest form of this weapon. However, it’s not a gun at this stage, but simply a net device that the Predator must lob at its enemies. One unfortunate fur trapper is pinned down to a fallen tree with the constricting net, and ends up sliced and diced by the pressure of the weapon.
Despite the "Alien vs. Predator" films being critically panned and seen as a stain on both franchises, there are still a few great concepts within the films, as well as stellar creature designs and practical effects. In fact, one of the Predator’s coolest weapons is actually only seen in "Alien vs. Predator: Requiem." The Predator in this film that sets out to clean up aliens that are now running rampant in rural Colorado employs the use of a whip during a monstrous clash at the film’s climax.
This is no ordinary whip, however. The entire length of the weapon is laced with barbs, and it seems that it is specifically designed to combat Xenomorphs. Why, you might ask? Well, the Predator engages the ferocious "Predalien" hybrid with the weapon, and no amount of acidic alien blood ever corrodes it. In fact, it’s very reminiscent of an alien tail. Co-director Greg Strausse confirmed it was actually made from that very thing so it can withstand acidic blood and have the sharpened edges capable of eviscerating opponents (via MTV).
The mask is, perhaps, one of the most iconic elements of a Predator’s arsenal. While the first Predator seen in the 1987 film had a simplistic and smooth mask by design, future iterations would drastically change, providing different looks for alien hunters. Aside from just being a mere accessory, the masks also aid the Predators in their hunts, providing them with distinct visual capabilities such as thermal imaging and zoom functionality to target prey. It can also mimic sound and vocals, one of the most terrifying ways the Predators taunt and lure their prey. In most iterations, the mask also contains the Predator’s targeting system for its shoulder cannon and other weaponry.
In some cases, the mask itself is armed with self-defense measures and is capable of lethal fire, as seen in 2018’s "The Predator." This is demonstrated when young Rory McKenna takes the alien mask and goes trick-or-treating with it. When one rude bully decides to throw a can at the little kid, the mask instantly retaliates with its own little firearm that blasts the top half of a house into oblivion. The Predator masks seen across the span of the franchise are wildly varied and serve several purposes. For that reason, they’re intrinsic to the Predator’s hunting gear.
Another staple of the Predator’s hunting arsenal is the cloaking device, which bends light to give the creature the effect of being nearly invisible. It is perhaps one of its best tools for stealthy maneuvers, enabling it to stalk prey without being seen. Most "Predator" films depict the creature spying on and stalking its future victims before finally moving in for the kill. This wouldn’t be possibly without the cloaking technology affixed to its armor.
In most cases, the cloaking armor can be disrupted by debris, water, impact, or — perhaps most memorably — blood. As hostiles engage the alien hunter, cracks in its cloaking device become apparent. While it’s a useful tool, it can be spotted if the human element knows what they’re looking for. Even still, a Predator wouldn’t exactly be the alien species we know without the ability to creep through the trees almost invisibly, one of the most iconic traits of this infamous movie monster.