Prey Director Dan Trachtenberg has stated that complaints surrounding the film’s female lead Naru, played by Amber Midthunder, result from fans misremembering the core dynamic between heroes and the villain in the franchise’s first outing, Predator. Airing on Hulu and Disney+ earlier this year, Trachtenberg’s Prey is the franchise’s fifth film but follows a narrative chronology dating back to the Predators’ earliest on-screen hunt. The film invited viewers to witness the iconic villain terrorize a new set of protagonists in the early 1700s, facing off against heroine Naru as she attempts to protect her Comanche tribe from a gruesome fate.
Both pay tribute to the former films within the franchise and present refreshing perspectives from which to understand the central conflict between hunter and prey. The film offered as many tense escapes and violent showdowns as one may have expected from the return of one of cinema’s most feared monsters. Since the 1987 release of John McTiernan’s classic, Predator, fans have speculated how the Predator would fare when faced off against warriors from across time. From a bladed battle against the Knights Templar to squaring off against DC icon Batman, short films and fan stories centering on the ultimate hunter populate the internet. Prey stripped its heroine and the villain she would face down to the bare bones, fighting with tomahawks and bows, to mostly positive reviews and many calling it the franchise’s best film since the first.
However, one complaint was particularly prominent on the film’s release, concerning the believability of a female lead being able to handle herself against such a menacing foe. Speaking on Radio 1s Screen Time Podcast, Trachtenberg states he believes this complaint to be based on a misremembering of the original film’s core conflict. See what he had to say below:
There was a very strange reaction, too, in… it’s almost a Mandela Effect thing of the way people misremember the original movie. […] But I never really wanted to correct that thinking, because it helps the movie. This movie is more exciting the more you feel like, ‘How is she gonna pull this off?’ […] I’m happy for people to think that way, even if you think a little bit harder about Predator, the end of that movie is where she begins, you know? Like he ends up in a place where, all the Comanches sort of have that knowledge-base that Arnold has to resort to, so… But I was happy for people to forget that. I think people remember Predator as, ‘Guys with big guns fight the thing,’ you know?
Trachtenberg seems to be reminding viewers that the original film was never about hulking male action heroes blowing the alien threat away but rather stripping them of the arsenal that gives them an advantage. In essence, both Predator and Prey force the hunter into a position of vulnerability. Their solutions to evading and defeating an entity far more physically and technologically powerful than them are where the excitement of the conflict comes from.
Of course, Prey could be said to be loaded with action sequences that require a suspension of disbelief, but in a world where fans have pitted the Predator against the Caped Crusader on YouTube, the complaint of a female lead lacking the believable capability to take on her foe seems suspect in its conviction. The film attempts to avoid criticisms concerning the physicality of its lead by evidencing how she outsmarts the larger rival rather than face it head-on, which has ultimately always been the deciding factor for the hero’s success in the franchise. What is achieved is an interesting juxtaposition with the hulking frames of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Adrien Brody for a refreshing style of the protagonist in the franchise, presenting a different threat to the beast that hunts her. With Trachtenberg’s comments in mind, fans can enjoy both Predator and Prey streaming on Hulu.
Source: Radio 1s Screen Time Podcast