When the nightmare-fuelling Alien burst out of John Hurt’s chest in 1979, it seemed that sci-fi cinema had landed upon its most fearsome creation.
Packing brute strength, acid blood and no conscience to speak of, the Xenomorph dreamt up by painter HR Giger was thought to be without equal, until another formidable alien race crashed into cinemas less than a decade later.
Arnold Schwarzenegger starred in 1987’s Predator, which saw a band of elite mercenaries venture into a Central American jungle, only to meet a terrible fate at the hands of a merciless hunter from outer space.
It wasn’t long before fans were speculating whether the Predator could reasonably take on a Xenomorph, birthing a crossover franchise that made its way from comic books to the silver screen.
However, this sprawling mythos can be confusing to newcomers, particularly as entries in the Alien, Predator and AVP series often take place in entirely different continuities.
Read on for more information on how to tackle your Alien vs Predator marathon.
How to watch Alien movies in order
1. Prometheus (2012)
Chronologically, Prometheus is now the earliest film in the current Alien canon, seeing original franchise director Ridley Scott return for a different take on this dark universe.
While there are similarities in terms of premise, with the action still following a crew funded by the Weyland Corporation as they venture on a perilous mission, Prometheus swaps out the classic Xenomorph for other nightmare-inducing creatures.
Noomi Rapace, Michael Fassbender, Idris Elba and Charlize Theron lead the cast.
2. Alien: Covenant (2017)
A direct follow-up to Prometheus, Alien: Covenant stands out as one of the most visceral instalments in the entire franchise, not holding back on gore and nail-biting action sequences.
Michael Fassbender reprises his role as Weyland android David, while Katherine Waterston, Danny McBride and Billy Crudup are among the crew of a colony ship exploring the far reaches of space.
3. Alien (1979)
The original and, for some, still the best, Alien is a classic horror film that unleashed the likes of facehuggers, chestbursters and xenomorphs on an unsuspecting public.
Sigourney Weaver stars as Ellen Ripley, a member of the USCSS Nostromo, a commercial spacecraft that makes the fateful decision to respond to a signal emanating from an uncharted planet.
As you might expect, it doesn’t go well.
4. Aliens (1986)
Weaver returned for this long-awaited sequel but director James Cameron took over the reins from Scott, steering the franchise into a more action-oriented direction.
It’s a smart move that allows Aliens to feel fresh and distinctive from its predecessor, with Cameron’s natural aptitude for jaw-dropping set-pieces proving to be a huge asset.
Aliens is arguably one of the greatest action films ever made with a razor-sharp script, with Weaver giving an excellent performance along with her co-stars Lance Henriksen, Michael Biehn, Paul Reiser and Bill Paxton.
5. Alien 3 (1992)
The first misstep for the Alien franchise was this third entry, Alien 3, directed by David Fincher, which was known to fall foul of studio interference.
The action shifts to prison ship Fiorina 161, where Ellen Ripley crash lands with an Alien life form in tow, which begins picking off the violent male inmates.
6. Alien: Resurrection (1997)
And this is where the series really lost the plot. Alien: Resurrection is a thoroughly misguided sequel set many decades after the third movie, continuing the story with a super-powered Ripley clone.
Some critics were kind to Resurrection, but there’s a reason why this story never continued on-screen.
How to watch Predator movies in order
1. Predator (1987)
Set more than 100 years before the Alien series, Predator is very much a self-contained action movie – and an excellent one at that.
Arnold Schwarzenegger plays Major Alan ‘Dutch’ Schaefer, a US Army Special Operations soldier called in to rescue hostages being held in a Central American jungle.
Little do they know that a deadly alien presence is lurking in the wilderness and tracking the movements of Dutch’s team, which also includes Carl Weathers as Dillon and Shane Black as Hawkins (more on him later).
2. Predator 2 (1990)
Schwarzenegger did not return for this direct sequel to Predator, which instead unfolds from the perspective of LAPD detective Mike Harrigan, played by Danny Glover.
The action takes place across the city against a backdrop of warring drug cartels, marking a significant change of scenery from the jungle landscape of the original.
Upon release, critics weren’t kind to Predator 2, although notably the film has gained cult status in the decades that followed.
The film was released after the original Alien vs Predator comic book story was published and thus features a Xenomorph skull in one scene, the first major acknowledgement of a shared world between the two creatures.
3. The Predator (2018)
Predator star Shane Black stepped behind the camera for this recent revival of the franchise, set in present day suburban America, where a team of soldiers take on a pair of Predators after they kidnap a young boy.
While highly anticipated prior to release, The Predator saw a very mixed reception from fans and critics alike, ultimately failing to make a dent at the box office.
However, eagle-eyed fans will notice small references to the first two Predator films, as well as one notable nod to the Alien franchise in the form of a Xenomorph tail that has been constructed into a spear.
4. Predators (2010)
This 2010 instalment in the Predator series pluralised its title in a deliberate nod to the second entry in the Alien franchise, but aside from that, there are no major connections to choose from.
Set at an unspecified point in the future, Predators follows a group of mercenaries after they are abducted and left on an alien planet, where two warring Predator tribes partake in a competitive hunt.
How to watch Alien vs Predator movies in order
1. AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)
While the Alien vs Predator films were originally intended to slot into the existing continuity of the two franchises, the events of more recent blockbusters Prometheus and Alien: Covenant have essentially rendered them non-canon.
Therefore, fans can view them as a self-contained duology, but if you wish to have the context offered at the time of their release, you could follow the release order listed lower down on this page.
Set in 2004, Alien vs Predator introduces the idea of the Xenomorphs and Predators harbouring an ancient rivalry, which a team of scientists unwittingly get caught between.
Needless to say, it doesn’t end well for them.
2. AVPR: Alien vs Predator – Requiem (2007)
Picking up immediately after the events of the first film, Alien vs Predator – Requiem is set in a small Colorado town, where a fearsome “Predalien” hybrid emerges and begins causing havoc.
Much like the first film, AVPR was hit with some savage reviews and underperformed at the box office, putting this crossover franchise on hiatus for the time being.
Alien and Predator complete release order
- Alien (1979)
- Aliens (1986)
- Predator (1987)
- Predator 2 (1990)
- Alien 3 (1992)
- Alien: Resurrection (1997)
- AVP: Alien vs Predator (2004)
- AVPR: Alien vs Predator – Requiem (2007)
- Predators (2010)
- Prometheus (2012)
- Alien: Covenant (2017)
- The Predator (2018)