Rafael Adolini, a name we first saw engraved on a centuries old flintlock pistol, immediately ignited the imaginations of Predator fans. A year was coupled with Adolini’s name: 1715, revealing that the Predators had been traveling to earth to hunt for at least hundreds of years, and possibly quite longer. The pistol was a gift from the elder of the Lost Tribe, known as Greyback, given to Lt. Mike Harrigan as a trophy after he defeated one of their own clanmates, the City Hunter.
But who was Rafael Adolini? And how did this weapon originally come into the possession of Greyback before he ultimately parted with it? Five years after the weapon first appeared in Predator 2, we’d get our first exploration into this. ‘Predator: 1718,’ by writer Henry Gilroy and artist Igor Kordey, part of Dark Horse Comics ‘A Decade of Dark Horse #1,’ would debut in 1996.
This short comic told the story of Raphael’s last battle, fending off a mutiny of his crew after their ambitions crossed a moral line in the sand. In the comic, Adolini was a Spanish pirate captain, who Greyback, known in this comic as the ‘Golden Angel,’ had been tracking as potential prey. But after the mutineers attacked, Greyback would enter the fray and fight along side Raphael. We’ve previously put together an in-depth piece of the events of this comic, as well as the thoughts behind the inclusion of the flintlock in Predator 2, which you can check out here.
Something we later learned after putting together our original article about Raphael Adolini’s flintlock pistol was that Peter Briggs – yes, the original Alien vs. Predator screenwriter Peter Briggs – had actually pitched a third Predator film to producer Joel Silver. Talking to Alien vs. Predator Galaxy on our 130th episode, doing his best to remember the meeting from 20 years prior, Peter Briggs told us that:
“I basically had a situation where it was the Spanish Main and there were buccaneers and Royal Navy ships. And this Predator had been involved watching a conflict from up in the yard arm of a pitched battle at sea, and watching these two guys go at each other.
The Predator basically turned up in London, and started killing off this captain’s crew to goad him into having a fight with the other guy. And the other guy turns up – the two of them are in France together – and they realise they’re being manipulated. So it’s these two guys who are being manipulated. It’s totally a period film. I hadn’t really thought a great deal of it out, and it was very wild and wooly but that’s basically the story.”
Obviously this never came to be, but it’s very interesting to know that screenwriters had attempted to entice 20th Century Fox into exploring Raphael Adolini and his flintlock in a theatrical setting much earlier than the 2020s.
In 2022, as we anticipated the upcoming fifth Predator film ‘Prey,’ the time period of the 1700’s had many fans expecting the flintlock pistol to make an appearance, and indeed it did, as did Raphael Adolini himself. The film has its own take on Raphael, which completely disregards the character from the comic.
In this interpretation he’s Italian and traveling with a French fur trapper party. A demure translator, Raphael is told by the group’s cigar-smoking leader, known as ‘Big Beard’, to question Naru who was recently captured by the group and held in a wooden cage.
Raphael asks Naru what she knows about the creature, showing her a leaf with its glowing green blood. It’s clear the group has seen the Predator that Naru was tracking and they had been on its trail as well. There’s a feeling that Raphael is not close-knit with this dreadful group, as he tries to convince Naru to help them capture the Predator.
Growing frustrated, ‘Big Beard’ stormed over to another cage, and to Naru’s shock she sees they’ve also captured her brother, Taabe. The group’s leader slices his machete across Taabe’s chest to torture him. After the night, Naru and her brother are bound to a tree, used by the trappers as bait to lure the Predator into their ambush.
While initially caught under a net, surprised by the trapper’s ambush who had been hiding under the ground, their heat-signatures hidden, the Feral Predator quickly recovers and begins massacring them in a rampage. Gathering his wits about him, Adolini prepares to fire his pistol from behind a tree. Apparently missing his shot, it’s still noticed by the Predator, who immediately flings its cut-clamp weapon, slicing into Adolini’s leg in the distance. Naru and Taabe escape their binds and leave the burned glade. Briefly splitting up, Taabe goes to capture horses, as Naru heads back to the Trapper’s camp to rescue her dog, Sari.
Returning to the camp to see the surviving trappers packing up to leave in a hurry, Naru attacks right as they prepare to kill Sari for food.
After Naru dispatched the remaining fur trappers back at their camp, she hears the click of a weapon aimed at her. It was Adolini, missing his left leg entirely below the knee and looking quite worse for wear. Initially he demands treatment of his severe wound at gunpoint, assuming Naru knows medicine. He stumbles in pain, and noticing her interest in his flintlock pistol, he flips it and offers a bargain:
“Help me, and I’ll show you how to use it.”
As Raphael lay in agony, Naru pries the Cut Clamp from his bisected leg and examines it before taking it for herself. As Naru applies a natural remedy to his fleshy stump, Raphael begins his instruction through the pain…
“Take the powder and put it in the gun. Not too little, not too much.”
Taking Naru through the steps of loading and firing the flintlock pistol, he then asks for something for his pain. Naru hands him a dose of the medicinal Orange Totsiyaa flower and forest mushrooms to cool his blood and slow the bleeding of his wound. Before Raphael can finish asking “What is this?” Naru presses her cloth to his mouth to get him eating. The medicine quickly takes effect, and Raphael asks “What’s happening? I’m freezing cold!”
Naru is gathering her things when she hears birds scatter. Sensing the Predator is nearby, she rushes to hide behind a tree as Raphael pleads with her not to leave him. Raphael tries to crawl to a nearby tent for cover, but he can’t make it before hearing the Predator approach, and he quickly turns over to play dead. The Predator decloaks and scans the area.
From the Feral Predator’s heat vision perspective, we can see the heads-up display (HUD) identifying human corpses strewn along the forest floor. The Predator’s eyes come to Adolini’s body. Its helmet sensors inform that although there’s no heat signature being shown from this human, the blood flowing from his wound is illuminated. Confused, the Predator walks over to Raphael to investigate. After looking over Raphael for a moment, who desperately tries his best to remain still as he plays possum, the Predator turns its attention back to surveying the camp. Naru notices this, commenting to herself that “It can’t see him.”
The Predator begins to move away, nonchalantly stepping right on Raphael’s other still intact leg, crushing his knee. Raphael can’t help but scream out in pain. The startled Predator quickly extends his wristblades and dives them into Raphael’s chest, finishing the job he started in the burnt glade and killing Raphael Adolini. As the Feral Predator pulls its blades from Raphael’s body, it notices Naru’s dog Sari barking as she runs toward it. It pulls out its boltgun and targets the dog with its helmet tri-laser.
But before it can fire, Taabe rushes in on horseback, knocking off the mask of the Predator with the clubbed end of its own combistick that he snatched back at the burnt glade. The mask flies off of the Predator to the ground, its laser targeting system still active and now pointed towards a tree. The Feral Predator still fires its boltgun but the projectile diverts before it can hit Sari, it arcs around the area and lands right where the laser is pointed. The Predator roars in anger, its attention now on Taabe.
Naru loads the pistol as Taabe rides around the Predator, crying out to distract it. He dodges the remaining two bolts the Predator fires, and Naru notices that all three bolts have landed right on each targeting laser. The Predator picks up its mask from the ground and reattaches it to its face.
Snatching his bow from the camp while leaning from horseback, Taabe opens fire on the Predator, but it deflects the arrows with its gauntlet shield. Naru approaches the Predator while it’s still on Taabe, preparing to fire the flintlock, but it would seem she didn’t get the mixture quite right on her first attempt, as it only clicks. Instead she yells at the Predator to distract it. It turns toward her, and Taabe launches himself from his horse to skewer the Predator in its shoulder with the combistick, firing off another arrow into it right upon landing.
The Feral Predator removes the combistick from its shoulder and the two engage in close combat. Naru returns to cover to try loading the pistol again, repeating to herself what Raphael told her as she pours the gunpowder: “Not to little, not too much.” Repeatedly firing arrows into it, Taabe seems to be getting the upper hand when the Predator cloaks to reposition. Naru comes back to the clearing with her pistol at the ready, before suggesting they should flee. Hearing the Predator sneaking behind him, and realizing he may be done for, Taabe tells his sister to run, and to “Bring it home.”
Before he can turn around to face the Feral Predator, Taabe is impaled from behind and held in the air from the wristblades piercing through his chest. Through her distress, Naru keeps the pistol on the Predator as it drops Taabe’s body to the ground, it decloaks and approaches her, seemingly ready to accept her challenge as it targets her. Before it can come any closer, Taabe with his last moments stabs the Predator in its leg with the teeth of its own wolf skull trophy. The Feral Predator turns to finish him off, giving Naru the time she needs to escape.
Naru retreats to a nearby river, washing the blood from her body and grieving the loss of her brother. After resting, and as night begins to fall, she notices the leader of the trappers ‘Big Beard’ has escaped himself, and is washing and drinking on the opposite bank. She readies her pistol, preparing to shoot ‘Big Beard,’ but at that moment she realizes she may have greater need of the pistol, and decides to save her lead round. She sprints to the trapper before he can notice, whacking him unconscious.
‘Big Beard’ awakens next to a bonfire that Naru has set to attract the Predator. He comes to in horror as he sees rats feeding on his leg that Naru has severed using the cut clamp weapon she took from Raphael. Swiping them away, he crawls to his gun rested on a log. ‘Big Beard’ spits insults and threats at Naru as she speaks to him.
“You bled my brother, so now you bleed. You think that I am not a hunter, like you. That I am not a threat. That is what makes me dangerous. You can’t see that I’m killing you… and it won’t either.”
While intimidating ‘Big Beard,’ Naru consumes her Orange Totsiya and applies war paint before the Predator arrives on the scene. It walks right past her and up to ‘Big Beard’ who can only look up at it in fear while yelling “Demon!” before it beheads him. As the Predator walks over to claim his trophy, Naru slowly raises the flintlock pistol behind it…
This time it fires, right into the back of the Predator’s head. Green blood is sent flying as its mask is knocked off its face, which Naru quickly snatches before running off into the woods. The Feral Predator stumbles to its knees, severely wounded but not mortally, before raising its head to roar in anger, determined to track down Naru.
The Predator would enter Naru’s trap, and ambushing it from above, the two would engage in a battle to the death. Naru ultimately emerged victorious by using what she had learned of the Predator’s weaponry against it, but if not for the flintlock pistol initially wounding the Feral Predator and knocking off the mask, its quite possible things might have gone differently. The flintlock pistol was instrumental in the defeat of the Feral Predator.
Naru returns home to her tribe, painted by the green blood of her kill. Carrying the head of the defeated predator, she throws to the ground before War Chief Kehetu’s feet, then tosses him the flintlock. The War Chief examines the pistol after catching it, and we can see the familiar inscription:
With her victory, Naru had not only become a hunter, but a warrior, and the Chief passed on his title to her in a tribal ceremony.
It’s easy to wonder how Adolini ended up in this conflict which would result in his death.
Speaking to us in the recently released AvPGalaxy Podcast Episode 154, Ralphael Adolini actor Bennet Taylor would describe his imagined backstory for the character, an explorer who previously spent time with another Comanche tribe, and who was not paired up with the fur trappers by choice…
“My idea of him was he came from Italy to find adventure in the new world. And he got this gun, he was given this gun by his grandfather who was a gunsmith. He came to the new world with a promise to explore, and he did manage to explore and he was able to stay with a Comanche tribe, that’s why he understands Comanche.
But the tribe was killed by the trappers, a separate tribe from the Comanche tribe that we see. And he was taken – he’s not on the same level as the trappers that he’s with. I felt the vibe that Raphael was lower class than the trappers, especially because he’s not a native speaker and his only real use for the other trapper guys is to translate. He’s not a good fighter.
“So I’m stuck with these guys, they’re mistreating people. I can’t really do anything about it otherwise I’m going to get killed. So I tried to really help Naru in my scene with her, I’m really trying to help you, I’m just trying to get information so that you don’t get killed, because that would be terrible. And I don’t want to get killed either, so this is what I have to do. He’s very desperate, very desperate, and very stuck, I found.”
Given the fact that Adolini must’ve spent a significant amount of time among Comanche to have learned the language, Taylor’s speculated backstory makes sense. Further evidence of Adolini’s time among a Comanche tribe can be seen in his attire, as he wears a feather adorned necklace pouch, as well as a side pouch held by a strap with a Native American artistic pattern.
The director of Prey Dan Trachtenberg, was initially unaware of the comic 1718, only learning of it as the film’s production was ramping up. 20th Century Studios did not provide the Director any guide for keeping in line with the existing expanded universe lore.
While speaking with us for episode #153 of the AvP Galaxy Podcast, Trachtenberg explained the thinking behind the inclusion of the flintlock pistol:
“I thought of the movie and, I think it was in my initial email pitch but it was just as I was thinking of the movie and my interest was to go back as far as possible, so that when we’re spending time with Native Americans it’s as far away from a western one could be, that it’s not when we’re used to seeing that. And then I thought of the pistol and was like, ‘oh shit!’ There’s our date, you know, that’s when we must be. And thankfully history lined up with the things we wanted to do in the movie and that worked.
For me that’s probably one of the best parts of Predator 2, is that moment at the end, it’s real like ‘oh crap,’ like a great movie moment. And so it certainly left a mark. I thought most people remembered that gun, and it turns out many don’t remember that. As we were showing friends & family there was a lot of ‘well you don’t really need that gun thing at the end.’ But the interesting thing is that as soon as we would explain it, they’d be like ‘Oh, you can’t lose that, you gotta keep that!’ Even though they didn’t personally remember it, just the concept of how that connects was undeniably great.”
Multiple flintlock pistol props were on hand for Prey’s production. Though the film’s prop master had planned to recreate the flintlock pistol from Predator 2 – since they had no idea where the original prop was located – he instead reached out to a fan collector who owned a very accurate recreation of the pistol. This replica was from a limited run by a Spanish company Denix. The company didn’t hold the Predator license so the pistol lacked the insignia seen in the film, and dedicated fan Neny Dee had a custom made brass plaque attached the pistol.
Bennet Taylor also informed us that in addition to the replica Neny Dee was able to provide the production, the prop master was able to obtain a further three or four pistol replicas from the collection of a Disney Imagineer.
The flintlock pistol, wielded by Naru was an instrumental weapon in her defeat of the Predator. While Prey has enlightened us with showing us Raphael Adolini’s final day, and the pistol’s significance in the battle against the ‘Feral’ Predator, an enormous mystery still remains: How did the flintlock pistol come into possession of the Elder ‘Greyback’ Predator after the events of Prey? The end credit sequence of the film hints at the arrival of more Predators, with tribal paintings of three spacecraft approaching the new War Chief Naru and her tribe.
The question could possibly be explored if we were to ever see a direct sequel to Prey, or perhaps this is a story we’ll find in a book or comic of the expanded universe. It’s also quite possible this will be left entirely to our imaginations. If Greyback himself was aboard one of the ships teased in the film’s credits, would he really have come for revenge? Given his reaction to Harrigan defeating the City Hunter, that seems unlikely.
Perhaps he was merely curious as to how a human went about besting this Predator. Or he may have never received it from Naru herself, but from another Predator who encountered her. Even after all we’ve seen of Adolini and his pistol in Prey, the flintlock still holds its mysteries.