Alien and Predator are two of the most popular and successful sci-fi horror franchises. The first Alien movie hit theaters in 1979, and the opening installment in the Predator franchise landed in 1987. The first crossover between the two came in a 1989 comic book, but an Easter egg in 1990's Predator 2 revealed the movies all took place in the same universe.
Having both originated on the big screen, the franchises have spawned 13 movies, video games, countless novels and comics, and a tremendous amount of merchandise. An Alien television series is also on the way.
An enormous list of stars have appeared in the movies; Arnold Schwarzenegger, Danny Glover, Bill Paxton, Adrien Brody, Topher Grace, Olivia Munn, and Thomas Jane are amongst those who've appeared in Predator movies. Alien's alums include Sigourney Weaver, Bill Paxton (again), Ron Perlman, Winona Ryder, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba, and Charlize Theron.
In this piece, we'll be taking you through all of the movies in the Alien and Predator franchises – including the crossover movies – in both release date order and the chronological order in which you should watch them.
In Chronological Order
1. Prey (2022, Directed by Dan Trachtenberg)
The most recent movie is also chronologically the earliest. Prey is a prequel to the Predator movies set in 1719 on the Great Plains of North America. It's about Amber Midthunder's Naru, a skilled Comanche warrior, as she goes up against a Predator (a more feral one with less-evolved tech than the ones we're used to) to keep her people safe.
A Skilled Comanche Warrior vs a Predator
Prey is the best installment in the Predator franchise since the original (in fact, say it quietly, it's arguably better). It looks gorgeous and still captures the spirit of Predator while feeling highly original. The Comanche representation is brilliant, Naru is a great protagonist, and other movies could learn a thing or two about character development by watching Prey.
2. Predator (1987, Directed by John McTiernan)
The first installment in the Predator franchise, Predator, is set in 1987, the year of its release. It's about Arnold Schwarzenegger's Alan “Dutch” Schaefer – the leader of an elite paramilitary rescue squad on a mission in a Central American rainforest – as he and his team encounter the deadly Predator and get picked off one by one.
In a Central American Rainforest
Predator is a classic of the horror, sci-fi, and action genres. It has a relatively thin plot, but its eccentric characters are legendary, its special effects remain pretty impressive even today, and the first reveal of the titular creature is a truly iconic moment. The climactic showdown between Dutch and the Predator is one of the most gripping in cinema history.
3. Predator 2 (1990, Directed by Stephen Hopkins)
Predator 2 takes place in 1997, seven years after its release date and ten years after its predecessor. Set in Los Angeles, it focuses on Danny Glover's disgruntled LAPD Lieutenant Mike Harrigan as he and his allies attempt to defeat the vicious Predator in an urban environment amidst a heatwave and a drug cartel turf war.
LAPD Lieutenant Fights The Vicious Predator
While a minority say it's an improvement on the original, it certainly isn't. However, the majority underrate it, and it has its merits. Glover plays a surprisingly formidable opponent for the Predator while also adding warmth to proceedings, and the movie's dismal tone ensures a feeling of constant threat. The environment is also refreshing.
4. Alien vs. Predator (2004, Directed by Paul W. S. Anderson)
The first explicit movie crossover of the two franchises came in 2004, and that's also the year in which it takes place. Alien vs. Predator’s plot sees a group mainly composed of scientists and mercenaries caught in the crossfire of an ancient battle between Aliens and Predators that takes place in an ancient pyramid.
Caught in The Crossfire
While it was fun to see Xenomorphs and Yautjas duking it out on screen for the first time, this is a largely dull movie and a huge missed opportunity. The characters are highly forgettable, the plot is almost non-existent, and the fight scenes are too dark. If it's a good movie you're after, avoid it. If it's silly, mindless fun you seek, it'll do.
5. Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007, Directed by The Brothers Strause)
Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem is the second movie crossover between the two franchises. It occurs immediately after its predecessor in 2004 and sees a Predator ship crash-land on Earth. When an Alien-Predator hybrid (the “Predalien”) escapes and heads to a nearby small town, a skilled veteran Predator arrives to kill it. The townspeople try to avoid the ensuing carnage.
A Predator Ship Crashes on Earth
It's a poorer movie than the first Alien vs. Predator, as the characters are even less memorable, it's often too dark to see what's happening, the camera is shaky, and there's categorically no plot in this one. There's more gore and violence than most of the movies on this list, but it feels like a futile attempt to mask this one's many failings.
6. The Predator (2018, Directed by Shane Black)
Directed by a man who had a supporting role in and did rewrites on the original movie, The Predator takes place in 2018, the year of its release. It's about a group of soldiers with PTSD and a scientist who must team up to combat an invading pair of Predators and discover their plans for humanity.
Soldiers and a Scientist Team Up
The Predator tries to emulate the original Predator movie with its violence and snappy quips, but it fails to get anywhere near it in terms of quality. It has a great cast on paper, and Black ensures it's moderately entertaining, but the characters are bland, the whole thing is cluttered and messy, and, worse still, it feels wholly unnecessary.
7. Predators (2010, Directed by Nimród Antal)
There's no definite information about when Predators takes place, but The Predator director Shane Black said his movie takes place before it, so we'll take his word for it (and 2020 seems about right for this one). Moreover, this movie has no impact on the broader franchise, so it doesn't matter. In the film, a group of proficient killers finds they've been abducted and placed on a Predator game reserve planet, and they must survive and look for a way home.
Proficient Killers Abducted
The impressive ensemble cast ensures this movie is hugely watchable, even if their characters feel a little like cardboard cutouts as far as their profiles go. It's the only Predator movie that doesn't take place on Earth and thrives in a new environment. It has some exciting fight scenes and some fun twists.
8. Prometheus (2012, Directed by Ridley Scott)
Prometheus is a prequel to the original Alien movie and takes place between 2089 (where it starts) and 2093 (where it ends). It focuses on the crew of the titular spaceship as it follows a star map found in several ancient Earth cultures. They ultimately arrive on a distant world and seek out the origins of humanity, but they discover a terrifying threat to it in the process.
Arriving on a Distant World
With brilliantly haunting visuals, Prometheus is a fantastic movie and an incredible origin story for the Xenomorphs. The ensemble cast performs brilliantly – especially Michael Fassbender, who is simply compelling as the android David. The one legitimate complaint about it is that, at times, it can get a little convoluted and confusing.
9. Alien: Covenant (2017, Directed by Ridley Scott)
A sequel to Prometheus and prequel to Alien, Alien: Covenant takes place in 2104. It follows the crew of the colonization ship Covenant as they land on a remote planet and discover an uncharted paradise with an extraterrestrial threat beyond their imagination. They must then attempt a harrowing escape while being hunted by said threat.
A Remote Planet
The ensemble cast is excellent in this one, and Fassbender again shines as two different (but very similar) androids. There's some good close-quarters horror, but Alien: Covenant tries too hard to emulate the best moments of other movies in the franchise. Katherine Waterston plays Janet Daniels, the best female character in the series since Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley.
10. Alien (1979, directed by Ridley Scott)
Alien takes place in 2122. It's about the crew of the commercial space tug, Nostromo. After encountering a mysterious derelict spaceship on an undiscovered moon, they inadvertently find themselves fighting for their lives against an extraterrestrial killing machine on board their ship.
It's On the Ship!
This movie is one of the finest sci-fi horrors ever made, and it introduced the now-iconic Xenomorph, which Swiss artist H. R. Giger designed, and it's simply terrifying. The environment of this movie makes it very claustrophobic, tense, and scary to watch. Its pacing is nothing short of perfect, which adds to the tension. Sigourney Weaver gives an incredible performance as Ellen Ripley, paving the way for female action protagonists.
11. Aliens (1986, Directed by James Cameron)
The sequel to Alien, Aliens, is set in 2179 and sees Ellen Ripley – the sole survivor of the previous movie – having been in stasis for 57 years. When communication with a human colony stops on the moon where her crew first encountered the Xenomorph, she agrees to return to investigate with a team of Colonial Marines.
Returning to Investigate
This movie achieves the impossible and equals its predecessor. It might even be slightly better than it. It's less artistic than Alien and more action than horror, but it still has some decent scares. Weaver is again brilliant as Ripley – so much so that she received a nomination for the Academy Award for Best Actress when the Academy didn't take sci-fi seriously – and the Colonial Marines are full of memorable characters.
12. Alien 3 (1992, Directed by David Fincher)
Set in 2179, immediately after the events of Aliens, Alien 3 sees Ellen Ripley – again the sole survivor of the previous movie – crash-landing on Fiorina 161, a maximum security prison housing violent male inmates. After several bizarre and deadly events occur following her arrival, Ripley realizes she's brought along an unwelcome visitor in the form of an alien.
The Mother of All Mother…
This one's not so great. It has a thin script, takes too many risks that don't pay off, and lacks any genuinely suspenseful action. It also very cheaply kills off some beloved characters from Aliens, which annoyed many people. It does look lovely, and Sigourney Weaver is great as Ripley yet again, but it definitely could (and should) have been much better – even David Fincher has disowned it.
13. Alien: Resurrection (1997, Directed by Jean-Pierre Jeunet)
Alien: Resurrection takes place in the distant future in the year 2386. In the movie, a clone of the deceased Ellen Ripley exists, and an Alien Queen gets surgically removed from her body for breeding and study. Aboard the spaceship USM Auriga, the Ripley clone and a group of mercenaries must battle the deadly creatures and prevent them from reaching Earth.
The Ripley Clone Battles The Deadly Creatures
While it's arguably better than Alien 3, Alien: Resurrection still isn't a great movie. It has a fantastic cast, and Sigourney Weaver plays a mean clone with Xenomorph DNA, but it doesn't capture the feel of the original. It's bloody, action-packed, and has some tense and funny moments, but it feels like an unnecessary and overly complex installment.
Still More to Come…
The upcoming Alien TV show from Fargo showrunner Noah Hawley is said to be set on a future earth – around 2095, before the events of the first Alien movie. Very few additional details are public at the moment, including when it will hit TV screens, so stay tuned.
Films by Release Date
- Alien (1979)
- Aliens (1986)
- Predator (1987)
- Predator 2 (1990)
- Alien 3 (1992)
- Alien Resurrection (1997)
- Alien vs. Predator (2004)
- Aliens vs. Predator: Requiem (2007)
- Predators (2010)
- Prometheus (2012)
- Alien: Covenant (2017)
- The Predator (2018)
- Prey (2022)
- Alien (20??)
This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.