The Alien franchise, from Ridley Scott and Dan O’Bannon, is generally accepted to be cyberpunk. There is even evidence that Blade Runner and the Alien franchise take place in the same universe. Predator, however, has few cyberpunk elements at all. But this universe is expanding; there are three Predator films, four Alien films, two Alien vs. Predator films, one Prometheus (the Alien Prequel) film, one Blade Runner film, and a remotely linked tie-in movie called Soldier for a total of 12 movies currently set in this universe. Sequels to all of these movies are currently in the works; a Blade Runner sequel, a Prometheus (Alien: Covenant) sequel, another planned Alien film (Blomkamp’s Alien movie), and another Predator film (The Predator) expanding this already expansive universe. When those movies wrap up, we will have a total of 16 movies in the universe. Most of these movies at least have heavy cyberpunk elements, except the Predator films, and this goes for all five movies that include Predators. So in this heavily cyberpunk thematic universe, how do we reconcile the Predator franchise?
How did we get here? The first Predator movie to include a reference to Alien was Predator 2. A Xenomorph’s (what the fan community has named the creature from Alien) skull is clearly visible on the trophy wall of the Predator at the end of the movie. This detail was probably included off-handly but acted as a catalyst for connecting the two universes. Since that time, 1990, we have seen an enormous amount of Alien vs. Predator crossovers from video games, ultimately to the AVP movies. For the record, we are only discussing the film universe here, not the sprawling extended universe. The first AVP movie appeared in 2004 after the link between the franchises had been well established.
Generally, the theme of the Predator movies is that humans are as much predators, as the alien Predators are. This idea is most fully explored in the third film, Predators, where they beat you over the head with it. In that movie, the Predators have chosen different kinds of human hunters from diverse backgrounds to hunt as prey; criminals, soldiers, serial killers, gang members, etc. This theme is also apparent in the other films. In the first Predator, we meet a special forces team that gleefully kills people en mass, as long as they feel they can justify it. The protagonist Dutch, played by Arnold Scharwznegger, plays at being virtuous, but the reality is that is an excellent killer, and all he needs is an excuse. The second Predator film also explores this theme through the lense of gangs and police officers that kill criminals indiscriminately and don’t shy away from police brutality to achieve their ends. They too are excellent predators. One can imagine these themes playing out well in a cyberpunk story. Predator 2 for instance, does an excellent job portraying the punk aspect, although the same cannot be said about the other films. And when you approach the cyber/high tech element it is simply not there, except alien technology, but that seems like shoehorning the movie into the genre.
The Alien vs. Predator movies do a good job of incorporating the corporate corruption angle into the franchise. One of the main characters in Alien vs. Predator is Charles Bishop Weyland, who was a robotics expert and is played by none other than Lance Henrikson. This character is not to be confused with Michael Bishop Weyland (or Bishop II) from Alien 3. This mistake is easy to make since they are both credited as the creators of androids, are played by the same actor, and the latter was only given an official name in one of the video game tie-ins. From this, we know that Weyland as an organization has known about the Xenomorphs since at least 2004 in-universe time. The second example of corporate influence in the Alien vs. Predator franchise occurs at the end of Alien vs. Predator Requiem, the sequel to Alien vs. Predator. The movie is set immediately after the events of the first film and ends with a Predator blaster being presented to Mrs. Yutani, of the soon to come Weyland-Yutani. It is posited by the creators of the Alien vs. Predator film, that Yutani’s possession of this weapon allowed them to create space travel technology that would be later used in the Alien movies, and also by proxy Blade Runner and Soldier.
What all of this translates to is that Predator isn’t cyberpunk. The events of the Predator franchise is what ultimately led to the development of the cyberpunk world we would see in the more overtly cyberpunk films Blade Runner, Alien, etc. The Predator movies are thus not cyberpunk, but they provide back history for the universe that would develop out of these events in Alien, Blade Runner, Prometheus, and Soldier. Below I present an in-universe timeline of events. This timeline suggests that the Alien/Predator/Blade Runner universe transitioned from a universe much like our own to the more advanced future universe we first see in Blade Runner between 2004 and 2019. We know that the Nexus 6 series was incepted in 2016 and 2017 which fits this assumption about the universe.
Predator – 1987
Predator 2 – 1997
The Predator – Unknown, but is rumored to include the character Dutch, so it is hard to imagine it could be too far future.
Alien vs. Predator – 2004
Alien vs. Predator 2 – 2004
Predators – Never officially dated, but we know it takes place after 1987, and it is safe to assume it takes place in at least 2010, based on technology.
_______________________Cyberpunk Transition Period 2010-2019___________________
Blade Runner – 2019
Blade Runner 2 – Post-2020 as current information sets it “some years later.”
Soldier – 2035
Prometheus – 2089
Alien Covenant – After Prometheus but we aren’t yet sure how much after.
Alien – 2122
Aliens – 2179
Alien 5 – Between Aliens and Alien 3, and may disregard the existence of movies post-Aliens.
Alien 3 – 2179
Alien Resurrection – 2379
Predator will never be cyberpunk in my mind, and frankly despite easter eggs to the contrary, I have a hard time thinking of Blade Runner and Alien in the same universe. With more films coming soon that tie-in to this universe, I suspect that these connections will become stronger, and we may even see the emergence of a Marvel-style cinematic universe. From a studio perspective I can understand this approach, but personally, I’d prefer if the crossovers stayed in extended universe media like comics, books, and video games. The Alien vs. Predator movies were disappointing and didn’t capture what made either franchise excellent. I hope that Blade Runner isn’t forced into a more overt continuity with the Alien and Predator films. Each franchise is at it’s best solo.