How Is 'Prey' Connected to the 'Predator' Franchise?

The Predator franchise is back, four years after Shane Black's The Predator was considered somewhat of a critical and commercial disappointment.

Prey is streaming now on Hulu in the United States and Disney+, which takes the Predator story back to its beginning—300 years before the events of the first movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

In the movie, a Predator ancestor lands on Earth in Comanche territory, where young hunter Naru (played by Amber Midthunder) tries to kill it in order to protect her family. This historical setting may feel like somewhat of a departure for the franchise, but it was something set up as far back as 1990's Predator 2.

Spoilers ahead for the plot of the Predator films, including Prey.

prey predator franchise
Amber Midthunder in "Prey." The film is a prequel to "Predator" and answers a key question left from "Predator 2." Hulu

How Prey Connects to the Rest of the Predator Films

At the end of Prey, Naru has managed to kill the Predator, taking back its head to her tribe. At the same time, she also brings back a pistol from one of the French trappers killed by the Predator earlier in the film.

This pistol crops up again at the end of Predator 2. In that film, Lieutenant Michael R. Harrigan (Danny Glover) is also able to defeat a Predator. As a reward for his excellence in battle, the other Predators in the ship where the battle takes place give Harrigan an antique pistol—the same pistol we see new in Prey.

In Predator 2, this revealed that the Predators must have been fighting with humans for centuries. In Prey, it raises a second question: how did the pistol get from Naru's tribe into the hands of the Predator? Could we soon see a sequel where the Predators get their revenge on the Comanche for killing one of their own?

Prey director Dan Trachtenberg told Movieweb that this scene was key to knowing his concept would work. Trachtenberg said that part of what motivated him to make the film was "remembering the end of Predator 2. And realizing, oh, there's precedent for them being around in this time period."

Depending on your views of Predator canon, Prey is not the first movie in the franchise to deal with historic themes. In Alien vs. Predator, scientists find an ancient civilization under Antarctic ice, where they discover that Xenomorphs have been on Earth for thousands of years. In that film, however, the Predators are more recent visitors. The plot begins with a Predator ship arriving on Earth in 2004 and melting a hole in the ice.

Some do not consider Alien vs. Predator part of the official canon.

Asked why he wanted to set his movie in the past, Trachtenberg told Film Updates: "I wanted to make a movie about protagonists that we never see as the leads of a movie, being Native American and the Comanche even more specifically, so that sort of lent itself to being set in the past. And I just want to sort of go even further than when we typically see Native Americans show up, it's in a Western, in a cowboy movie, in the 1800s. So I just wanted to go back further to the height of the Comanche empire."

Prey is streaming now on Hulu.