Skip to main content

After Hulu's Prey: 8 Other Franchises We'd Like To See Set A Movie In The Past

The Predator in Prey
(Image credit: 20th Century)

Pitting The Predator — the titular, extra-terrestrial antagonist from one of cinema’s greatest monster movies — against a Native American tribe in the 18th Century is such a brilliant idea, I am surprised that Hulu’s acclaimed new thriller, Prey, did not happen sooner. In fact, I am surprised more popular movie franchises have not tried giving their properties a fresh spin with a prequel set decades (even centuries) prior to their originals. I actually have several series in mind, starting with another headlined by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

One of the robots in The Terminator.

(Image credit: Orion Pictures)

Terminator

To prevent John Connor’s birth by killing his mother, Sarah (Linda Hamilton), in 1984’s The Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 was sent back to the year 1984. With the exception of the post-apocalyptic Terminator: Salvation, all sequels to James Cameron’s original sci-fi classic took place not long after the year of their release, and I think that might be why Skynet, usually, continues to fail at their mission. To raise the stakes and, hopefully, improve the story for the next Terminator sequel, I would recommend tracing the Connors’ lineage even further back in the past and, in particular, to an era with more primitive weaponry to make sure whatever cybernetic killing machine sent this time is even harder to stop.

Tom Cruise in Mission: Impossible - Fallout

(Image credit: Paramount Pictures)

Mission: Impossible

Hollywood has been tracing the history of the Impossible Mission Force from when the original Mission: Impossible TV show first aired in the mid-1960s all the way to the present with Tom Cruise’s Mission: Impossible movies, which are still churning out more adventures as we speak. However, we have never seen a cinematic installment or an episode of the original series that shows us how the IMF came to be and why it was founded. I think a prequel set around the independent espionage organization’s conception — executed with the same high-wire thrills and featuring another daredevil protagonist like Ethan Hunt — could, hopefully, be a more successful spy origin than The King’s Man turned out to be.

the National Treasure cast

(Image credit: Walt Disney Pictures)

National Treasure

I think Disney struck gold using historical fact to craft some exciting fiction out of its National Treasure movies, which would later inspire an upcoming Disney+-exclusive spin-off series, but has yet to officially dig its long-awaited third installment out of development hell. I actually think a fun way to revitalize the franchise for the big screen would be to go backwards and tell a story about people looking for the Templar Treasure long before Nicolas Cage’s character, Benjamin Gates, did. Maybe this one could take place in the 1930s or 1940s as a tribute of sorts to one of the franchises that inspired it in the first place: the Indiana Jones movies.

Michael Keaton in Beetlejuice

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

Beetlejuice

I have always been curious about what kind of person Michael Keaton’s titular antagonist of Tim Burton’s 1989 classic, Beetlejuice (one of the all-time greatest horror-comedy movies), might have been like when he was still living. However, I admittedly would rather be kept as in the dark about the hilariously spooky bio-exorcist’s origin as possible, but we do know from some of the film’s most memorable quotes that he “lived through the Black Plague and had a pretty good time during that” and has been around for, at least, a “millennium.” Thus, it is possible that someone in the last several centuries tried to conjure Betelgeuse (the true spelling of his name) by saying it thrice, and I would love to see how something that crazy would play out.

Pennywise the Clown in IT

(Image credit: Warner Bros.)

It

When I heard Bill Skarsgård announce that a third movie based on Stephen King’s It had been discussed, I wasn’t too keen on the idea, as I am not sure where else you could take this horrifying metaphor of innocence lost past the moment the Losers Club officially defeats their clownish enemy. That was until I remembered that Pennywise is not just a creepy ass clown, but a shapeshifting, otherworldly entity that has existed on earth for an unspecified amount of time. That kind of makes me curious to see what other nightmares he may have conjured for other people over the years (or centuries) prior to taking up residence in Derry, Maine.

Vera Farmiga in The Conjuring.

(Image credit: Warner Bros. Pictures)

The Conjuring Universe

James Wan’s instant classic of the haunted house movie subgenre, 2013’s The Conjuring, has spawned a shared universe unlike any other in how each of its installments are inspired by allegedly real supernatural phenomena. However, the earliest era explored in the Conjuring Universe timeline thus far is the early 1950s, with 2018’s The Nun, but I would like to see the franchise tackle a “true” haunting that predates even the 20th Century. Maybe Wan and co. could research some spooky reportings from the Victorian Era (opens in new tab) or even see if they can find some really old and really strange event that is still somehow related to the case files of Ed and Lorraine Warren (played by Patrick Wilson and Vera Farmiga in the franchise). 

Ellen Sandweiss in The Evil Dead

(Image credit: New Line Cinema)

The Evil Dead

Now, I understand that I am technically cheating here because the Evil Dead movies already have seen some “primitive screwheads” get possessed with its third installment, 1992’s Army of Darkness, but what I have mind is something entirely different from that wacky time travel adventure. As much as I do love director Sam Raimi’s cartoonishly macabre sensibilities and star Bruce Campbell’s comedic timing, I would like to see something more in line with the 1981 original and the 2013 reboot that earnestly depicts the grueling terror that one of the most beloved horror franchises is most famous for. As for the what time period I would choose: I am thinking that the Deadites would feel right at home turning a village of devoted Puritans upside down during the Salem Witch Trials.

The Continental hotel in john wick

(Image credit: Summit Entertainment)

John Wick

There are many secrets hiding in plan sight and with little explanation in the John Wick movies, and that’s what keeps this world filled to the brim with master assassins interesting. However, one could infer that the Continental Hotel and its many international subsidiaries has been around for quite a while and could house many intriguing stories that span decades. I would very much be interested in seeing a spin-off set in 1920s Chicago, 1940s New York, or any time or place before “Baba Yaga’s” prime, as long as the action is badass.

Might the success of Prey see the beginning of a new trend of more action-packed or scary blockbusters set before modern times? Could these period thrillers be canon to the beloved franchises above? I suppose only time will tell.

Jason Wiese
SEO Team Writer

Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.