The Shoulder Cannon, also known as the Plasmacaster, is featured in every Predator movie. Each of them has a slightly different design but the principal is still the same. The shoulder cannon is the Predator’s signature weapon and is the one everybody remembers after watching the film. It’s also the most powerful weapon at the Predator’s disposal. Essentially, what it is, is a gun mounted on the Predator’s left shoulder.
At the Predator’s will, it fires powerful blue balls of plasma at a target. It’s also extremely accurate because of features on the Predator’s mask. Firstly, the shoulder cannon is connected to the Predator’s vision mode. When an object is in motion, a red triangle focuses in on the target in its vision which is responsible for the great accuracy of the weapon. Secondly, there’s a targeting laser which is beamed from the Predator’s mask onto the target.
In Predator, Jungle Hunter uses his shoulder throughout the film. We see a plasma blast his Blaine which burns a hole through him. When the Predator gets trapped in the net trap that Dutch set, he uses it to escape. He later takes out Mac with the cannon. We first get a good look at the weapon and the Predator himself when he emerges out of the water and Dutch covers himself in mud. Finally, when Dutch damages his cloak on the log bridge, the Predator fires aimlessly towards the trees where Dutch is hiding.
Predator 2 (1990)
In Predator 2, the cannon is used by the City Hunter and is most likely used at the beginning of the film in the Columbian hideout. The first time we actually see it in use is in the meat locker when the Predator fires at Agent Keyes. A bit later, Harrigan shoots at the Predator, damaging the cannon in the process and forcing him to remove it.
Behind-The-Scenes: They re-designed the cannon with a bit of samurai influence to give the Predator a bit more personality. It was all radio controlled so it could track and follow and hit marks.
Alien vs Predator (2004)
In Alien vs Predator, the three teenage Predators don’t start off with their shoulder cannons. Instead they have to go find them in the pyramid. The humans take them so the Predators pursue them. The three cannons are of different sizes with Scar’s being the biggest out of the three. When Scar catches up with Lex, she gives him his shoulder cannon which he subsequently uses to dispatch several Xenomorphs. The Shoulder Cannon does still fire blue plasma bolts however the special effects and sound effects are of course different.
Behind-The-Scenes: Here’s a look at some early concept art from artists Carlos Huante, RK Post, Kurt Van Der Basch and Joe Pepe.
Aliens vs Predator Requiem (2007)
In AvP Requiem, when the Wolf Predator explores the crashed Predator ship, he picks up a dead Predator’s shoulder cannon and attaches the cannon to his other shoulder. This is the first time, a Predator in any movie has been able to use dual shoulder cannons at the same time. We first see the cannons in use in the underground sewer and takes out two Aliens with them. Next up, it’s used at the power plant and the Predator inadvertently causes a city-wide blackout.
In the Unrated cut, there’s a scene in the cemetery where he kills somebody. Next, the cannons comes in use at the Sporting Goods store, killing two people and killing a couple of Aliens. A bit later in the film, the Predator removes both cannons and turns them into a hand-held gun. The only downside of this, is there’s a charging time between each use. The gun comes into play at the Hospital killing two Aliens but the Predator later loses it in the battle. Dallas picks it up and uses it on the rooftop against the Aliens. The cannon later ends up in the hands of Ms. Yutani (of Weyland-Yutani) and it’s implied they use the technology to enable the space travel seen in Alien.
Behind-The-Scenes: During production, Amalgamated Dynamics streamlined the shoulder cannon as it was going to be used in the hand and added a recharging lighting display, a recoil feature and clip-on handle. An early concept design for the cannon actually gun holsters on the Predator’s back but this idea was scrapped.
In Predators, the Berserker and the Tracker Predator are armed with shoulder cannons mounted on their left shoulders. It differs in design as it is much smaller and the firing mechanism works slightly differently in that the gun splits into two components, each rotating around the other in a clockwise direction. The shoulder cannon can be charged up so that it can fire shots of varying damage. A well-charged shot is enough to blow Noland to pieces, while a quicker, rapidly fired shot is enough to knock Stans off his feet or puncture a hole through Nikolai’s chest. As with the regular Predators, the shoulder cannon is also connected to the Berserker Predators’ vision modes. The Classic Predator also has a cannon but he never gets a chance to use it.
Behind-The-Scenes: An early design of the shoulder cannon from Joe Pepe can be seen below.
The Predator (2018)
When the Fugitive Predator escapes the laboratory, he regains access to his shoulder cannon. For the first time in the series, he puts the cannon on his right shoulder. It functions in the same way as previous cannons. The Predator can target enemies with his laser and the cannon fires a plasms blast.
Traeger also uses a shoulder cannon when the team are hunting the Upgrade Predator.
While not a shoulder cannon per say, the mask that Rory finds also features a miniature cannon.