Predator gives me a chance to talk about another archetype: The Group Oriented Hero. No one could dispute that Arnold Schwarzenegger knows how to play a hero. We’ve seen him do the heroic thing in action movie after action movie, but in Predator we see something different. In this film we see him as a hero who has to protect his group of men against a force they do not understand.
Some characteristics of this type of hero include starting out as a part of society, in this film part of a group of trained soldiers on a mission. One would be hard pressed to find a more steroid enhanced collection of partners on celluloid if you wanted to try. I mean there’s Jessie Ventura for heaven’s sake. Once the group is established…they are usually taken to a foreign land to begin their adventure.
Here it’s the jungle, where their assignment has led them. They are there for one mission; however, a turn of events…an invisible threat to their lives… threatens the safety of the group. They struggle to identify the threat, as our main hero gets separated from the group, as the threat starts hunting them one at a time. They have a female who is assisting them, so we have the damsel in distress woven into the story. She represents the surviving group to which our main hero must return.
Predator may be basic “Hero’s Journey” storytelling, but it gave us a new monster that we had no idea about and that served up some scary stuff and a nice twist on man going from being the hunter to being the hunted. This may not be Mr. Schwarzenegger’s best film (Total Recall being my favorite and after that True Lies), but it’s him in his heyday and full-on heroic glory. And oh yeah, he kicks an alien’s ass!