Director Shane Black calls the new ‘Predator’ a sequel, not a reboot

June 25, 2014 | 6:33 p.m.
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Ben Kingsley portrays supervillain the Mandarin in "Iron Man 3," directed by Shane Black. (Marvel Studios)

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Gwyneth Paltrow, left, and Robert Downey Jr. reprise their roles as Pepper Potts and Tony Stark in "Iron Man 3." (Marvel Studios)

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Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark in a scene from "Iron Man 3." (Marvel Studios)

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Robert Downey Jr. reprises his role as Tony Stark in a scene from "Iron Man 3." (Marvel Studios)

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Iron Man and Pepper Potts share a moment in "Iron Man 3." (Zade Rosenthal / Marvel Studios)

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The Mandarin draws power from 10 rings he found among the ruins of an alien vessel. (Robert De La Torre / Marvel Comics)

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The Mandarin made his comics debut in 1964's "Tales of Suspense" No. 50, by Stan Lee and Don Heck. (Marvel Comics)

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With his 10 powerful rings and aspirations of world domination, the Mandarin became Iron Man's arch nemesis. Above, the cover for "Tales of Suspense" No. 55. (Marvel Comics)

Proving that the ’80s will never die, 20th Century Fox has announced that it will revive the “Predator” mission, with Shane Black attached as director.

The “Lethal Weapon” scribe, credited with reviving the action movie genre in the ’80s with his first-ever script (sold for $250,000 at age 23), will also write the treatment before handing over script duties to his college chum, Fred Dekker (the two collaborated on “Monster Squad”).

Coincidentally, Black has a history with the “Predator” franchise. Though he turned down the studio’s repeated pleas to punch up the original script, he did end up playing a small role in the 1987 film that starred Arnold Schwarzenegger, Carl Weathers and Jesse Ventura. Black played Rick Hawkins, the team’s tech expert, otherwise known as the hunting alien’s first onscreen kill. (Insert comeback joke here.)

Though the project has been touted as a reboot, Black told Collider that he’s thinking of it more as a sequel: “As far as Fred and I are concerned anyway,” Black said, adding, “Why start over, when you’ve all this rich mythology yet to mine?”

Collider went on to write that “Black said he doesn’t like reboots generally, but can ‘really get behind inventive sequels.'”

Writer-director Shane Black. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Writer-director Shane Black. (Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Perhaps this fondness for follow-ups shouldn’t come as a surprise from a man who experienced a box-office smash with “Iron Man 3,” which grossed $1 billion in worldwide ticket sales just 22 days after its release.

In a chat with Hero Complex in 2013, a week or so before the release of “Iron Man 3,” Black was circumspect about his chances with the fickle Hollywood machine.

“If the movie’s a huge hit, I’ll pump my fist in anticipation of the fact that I’m still viable,” Black said, sitting on a rolling chair in a dusty, sparsely furnished office at the corner of Hollywood and Vine. “The fact that I have a chance to come in and do a job that other people would sell their left arm for is not something that escapes me.”

Black has had his ups and downs: After the blow-out success of “Lethal Weapon,” he remained one of the mostly highly paid, sought-after writers in Hollywood, commanding top dollar for screenplays including 1991’s “The Last Boy Scout” and 1993’s “Last Action Hero.” But his streak ended when 1996’s “The Long Kiss Goodnight” bottomed out at the box office.

Too soon to say whether “Predator” will promise more of the primrose path — or a dump-off in the bushes — but Black will have his work cut out for him. Chances are former commando Schwarzenegger won’t be around to supply any muscle.

– Margaret Wappler | @MargaretWappler

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