Franchised media often build much of their cultural cache through continuity, callbacks, and winks at older material. Bad versions of this technique base the whole story on things that fans remember in a desperate attempt to succeed only at the expense of nostalgia. Good versions create an interesting story and find funny ways to connect it with what happened before.
Prey is the best version of the popular Predator franchise since the first, perhaps even stronger than the original. This is a prequel, which tells about the first meeting of mankind with the legendary hunters of Yautzha almost 270 years before the events of the first film.
Prey follows the adventures of Naru, an experienced Comanche warrior who seeks to prove himself in hunting against a deadly enemy. When a new threat emerges from the depths of space and begins to demonstrate its deadly capabilities, Naru is faced with something much stronger than a wild animal. During her hunt, Naru stumbles upon simple metal traps that go beyond the typical methods of her people, but are significantly inferior to the alien’s capabilities. Struggling with numerous threats, she discovers that violent settlers have set up camp near the homeland of her people and have set to work destroying the local ecosystem. As if their numerous crimes weren’t enough, as soon as Naru confronts them, they take the girl hostage and start torturing her. Except for Raphael Adolini, a bilingual translator who is a little less violent.
Soon a Predator arrives and devastates the settlers’ camp, easily killing the armed crowd. Their theoretically superior firepower still pales in comparison to yautja’s technology, their tactics break down almost immediately, and their persistence in battle leaves them with many targets. The Yautja Code strictly prohibits hunting an unarmed or incapacitated enemy, so the main threat of this film passes by Naru and her brother without any problems. After the hunter easily gutted a crowd of settlers, Naru discovers Adolini wounded and bleeding. He offers her an exchange, if she uses her medical skills to save his life, he will give her a gun and teach her how to use it. The deal goes well enough, but Adolini still ends up dead at the hands of a Predator. This leaves Naru armed with a flintlock pistol, which she later uses as a key part of her ambush against the powerful hunter Yautja. At the end of the film, when Naru reunites with her tribe and gets the title of chief, she does so with two trophies; the severed head of yautzha and a firearm with the name of its previous owner engraved on it.
The flintlock pistol is an important part of Naru’s attack on the Predator, but also an important part of the franchise’s history. This is a reference to the finale of “Predator 2” of the 1990s. Although this movie is noticeably less popular than its predecessor, it is still part of the franchise, and this unusual Easter egg is a great way to raise it. Predator 2 follows a narrative quite similar to most of the films in the franchise. In it, a Los Angeles Police officer and a DEA agent confront a new Predator, who is playfully called the “Urban Hunter”. As it usually happens, the hero, in this case Lieutenant Mike Harrigan, played by Danny Glover, defeats the Predator and leaves victorious. Harrigan tracks down Yautj and kills him with his own weapon on his own spaceship. It’s a complete victory, but when a handful of Yautja’s comrades come out of disguise, there comes a tense moment when Harrigan is stunned with horror. To his surprise, they do not attack, but give him the trophy. In particular, a pistol with a flintlock, on which the words “Raphael Adolini 1715” are engraved.
When this moment happened on the big screen in 1990, the audience was a little confused. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character didn’t get a trophy when he killed a Predator, what changed? The obvious consequence of this scene is that the Yautja have a longer history with humanity than we previously knew. Some joked that perhaps the City Hunter was a black sheep among the team, and his peers were happy to see him killed. It is quite obvious that a pistol is a trophy of a man who was able to defeat a seemingly superior race in battle. The 1996 comic “Predator: 1718” offered an explanation. In this work, Adolini was a pirate captain who repelled a mutiny over gold. The predator saw him fighting and for unknown reasons decided to join him in killing his team. After Adolini is shot by a hidden enemy, he gives the Predator his gun, which is later passed on to a successful hunter.
The explanation offered by Predator 1718 doesn’t make much sense when considering the rest of the canon. Prey’s explanation makes much more sense. Although it is not known exactly how the Predators of the future will get their hands on the engraved Naru pistol, the fact that this is the first artificial weapon ever used to kill a Predator is huge.