I love Predator. I love the creature designs, I love the violence, and I love the over-the-top machismo.
That seems like a weird thing to say today, when we’re beginning to see the fallout of the type of chest-beating, hyper-muscular masculinity celebrated in 80s action movies. But the Predator movies never seemed to take that stuff seriously — in fact, they made manliness so silly and unpalatable that the film often works as a parody of masculinity, not a celebration of it.
For Tor.com, I wrote about how the Predator movies critique the manliness on display:
Even if you’ve never seen the 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi action classic Predator, you’ve probably seen this scene: A musclebound Arnold grins slyly as he saunters toward an equally brawny Carl Weathers. The two men clasp their hands together in the center of the room, creating a thunderous clap that resounds even as director John McTiernan holds his camera on their rippling, bulging biceps.
It’s a very manly moment from a very manly movie, the first of three (and soon to be four) entries in a very manly franchise. Even when Arnold and Weathers cede the series to actors not known for their massive physiques (Danny Glover in 1990’s Predator 2 and Adrien Brody in 2010’s Predators), and even when women get to play a more active role (Maria Conchita Alonso as a tough cop in Predator 2, Alice Braga as an Israeli sniper in Predators), these movies remain fixated on a specific type of exaggerated masculinity. And that sort of makes sense, as the series is about alien hunters who test their might against Earth’s greatest warriors.
But here’s the thing: As much as these movies love their muscles and explosions and outsized weapons, they ultimately make machismo look silly, and sometimes even horrific.