The Comanche warrior face paint in Prey actually has a deeper meaning than many Predator fans realize. Acting as the fifth movie in the Predator franchise, Prey takes viewers back to the 18th century, telling the story of one Comanche warrior’s fight against the first alien Predator to land on Earth. The film has been a hit with both audiences and critics thus far, with many praising Dan Trachtenberg’s direction, the lead performance from Amber Midthunder as Naru, and the film’s commitment to accurately and respectfully portraying Comanche culture.
Although Trachtenberg himself is not Comanche, the film did use Comanche consultants to ensure historical accuracy. Notably, Prey also features a cast that is predominantly Comanche, and the film was released with the option to watch it entirely with Comanche audio dubs. As is featured heavily in the film’s marketing, Naru and the other Comanche warriors sport period-appropriate clothing, but also some striking face paint. In one of the more visually unique posters for Prey, Naru’s black face paint is mixed with the distinctive green luminescent blood of the Predator alien.
In a new interview with InStyle, Midthunder reveals more details about the warrior face and body paint featured in Prey and how each cast member got to add their own personal flourishes to each design. Unbeknownst to viewers, the careful designs have deeper stories than what might be initially assumed. Check out Midthunder’s full comment below:
“We had several days of hair and makeup tests before we started shooting, and that doesn’t just go for me, that goes for all of the boys — they got to collaborate on their face paint or their war paint. Some of them incorporated their own family designs into the paint on their face or body, which felt really amazing and hugely respectful of the production to want to incorporate us and our cultures that way.”
The willingness of the film’s production to allow the actors to come up with their own face and body paint designs is in keeping with Prey‘s general attitude towards the Comanche culture it’s portraying, which seems to be one of utmost respect. The inclusion of a dubbed Comanche version of the dialogue is also a first for a major Hollywood film, a major step forward when it comes to the accurate and honest portrayal of Comanche culture. Although Midthunder doesn’t reveal whether her own face paint in Prey includes any familial references or designs, the thick all-black design immediately makes her stand out in the film.
In the wrong hands, Prey could have very easily felt like a more generic action film. Fortunately, the end result is one that feels distinct not only within the Predator franchise but within the action genre in general. While the unique designs in the characters’ face paint may be easy to miss when the hulking alien Predator is barreling down on the Comanche hunters, subsequent viewings of Prey are likely to reveal other interesting character flourishes and cultural details.