Predator: When the Predator admires his spaceship trophy case in the Los Angeles-based "Predator 2," we see the skull of an Alien.
While it is possible he picked this up in a souvenir shop on Hollywood Boulevard, chances are this means at least one prior victory over his insectlike foe.
Alien: May have a win or two, but since it is rite of passage for Predators to kill Aliens and not the other way around, you have to figure they've lost more than they've won. However, thanks to an Alien queen's vast egg-laying capabilities, the numbers advantage is clearly on the Aliens' side.
Predator: Ruthless, but somewhat on the shy side (hence the camouflage and cloaking), probably because humans tend to make disparaging comments about its crablike face. Likes to hunt, but has shown something of a code of honor. Among the life forms a Predator will not attack: 1) women with child, 2) women protecting child, 3) child, 4) a defenseless male (because, let's face it, where's the challenge in that?). Cool Rastafarian hair suggests certain lifestyle choices that might help him unwind after a long day of mayhem.
Alien: It's all about reproduction - nothing gets in the way of the species' survival. Highly protective of young and has been known to resort to violence to ensure that no one messes with the wee ones. On occasion, displays a kicky sense of humor, choosing ironic moments (i.e., during mealtime) to burst through human hosts' stomachs.
Advantage: You're not going to want to break bread with either creature, but, forced to choose, "AVP" special effects supervisor John Bruno goes with the Predator, reasoning that maybe all he's looking for is a good farmers market. The Predator is a fruit-eater, Bruno speculates, "but just gets angrier because there's not any fruit wherever he's going."
Predator: Weapons include double-tipped, 5-foot-long throwing spear (which contracts to 2 feet, making packing a breeze!), spring-released serrated blades, shoulder-mounted plasma cannon, net launcher and razor-sharp throwing discs. Also comes complete with a self-destruct unit that detonates a small nuclear bomb. (That Ah-nold managed to live through this blast in "Predator" is one of so many reasons Californians can feel good about electing him governor last year.)
Alien: Well, there's the way those face-huggers burst out of the eggs and attack anyone within leaping distance. And, of course, the aforementioned chest-bursting, which is nobody's idea of a good time. The mature adult (if you can call a creature with such dreadful behavior "mature") has two sets of very pointy teeth and a disposition to use them, its whiplike tail and its brute strength on anything that gets in the way of messing with its life cycle.
Advantage: Slight edge to Predator, if only for the variety of options.
Predator: Localized camouflage shield makes it invisible - to humans, at least.
Alien: Instead of blood, has molecular acid that will eat through anything.
Advantage: Invisibility makes you a hard cat to pin down, but, as Schwarzenegger put it, "If it bleeds, we can kill it." Except with Alien, which, if it bleeds, will kill you. Give the nod to Alien.
Strength of schedule
Predator: Faced two future U.S. governors in "Predator," killing one (Jesse Ventura) and ultimately losing to another (Ah-nold).
Alien: Technically, has never lost to humans. Did get distracted by the sight of Sigourney Weaver in her underwear in "Alien," but no creature is infallible, right?
What opponents say
Predator: "There's no stoppin' what can't be stopped, no killin' what can't be killed."- King Willie, "Predator 2"
Alien: "Perfect organism. Its structural perfection is matched only by its hostility. A survivor . . . unclouded by conscience, remorse or delusions of morality."- Ash, "Alien"
Advantage: Alien. The series had better actors who could talk up their foe with florid oration.
Predator: Only one bad sequel compared to two for "Alien" and it has been 14 years (as opposed to seven for the last Alien movie, "Resurrection"), so the memory isn't as painfully fresh.
Alien: Four movies in the series vs. two for "Predator," making it the more valuable franchise.
Advantage: Alien. There's a whole generation of kids who think of Predator as a video game, not a movie.
We haven't seen the final movie - Fox isn't screening it until opening day, not the most encouraging sign - but given the plot (Predators going through the ritual hunting of Aliens) and the Predators' vast arsenal, it would make sense for them to win. But then, Predators can tire, while Aliens are killing machines. And besides, who doesn't like to root for the . . . um . . . underdog? We'll take our chances with the Aliens. *