A 20th century Fox executive passes out in-between lines of coke and has a strange dream. In it, instead of having the extraterrestrials from Predator and Aliens fight, it’s the humans. Who wins that fight?
A few rules:
Dutch and Ripley lead their respective squads.
No vehicles, loaders, nukes or third parties (no vehicles crews, no kids), just the people with what they wear and carry. Do as you will regarding Bishop.
Only information in the movies or reasonably implied by the movies is allowed, no bringing in stuff from a video game spin-off or fanfic* or something.
The setting is of your choosing but not rigged to favor one squad over the other.
Generally, nothing that makes it nigh impossible for one side to win.
There’s gotta be some Predator slash fic out there: “There’s something out there waiting for us and it ain’t no man. I’m scared. It bleeds with the same rhythm as the moon but it don’t die.”*
**Now that I think about it, look at a picture of the xenomorph’s inner jaw and then the Predator’s mouth and tell me if they wouldn’t get along.
Here’s why: The Aliens platoon never seemed very dialed in or effective. Gorman is inexperienced and makes some catastrophically stupid decisions. Ripley is smarter but not part of the team, and Burke is an actual liability. Even after the platoon gets whittled down to the handful of core characters that carry us through the movie, they are still fractious, work against each other, and appear only marginally competent. At times they panic and some of them struggle to exercise initiative in the absence of clear direction.
Dutch’s Predator squad is composed of a tightly-knit group of high performers who appear more skilled and more cohesive. They are all extremely competent, rarely second-guess each other, and exercise appropriate initiative. Even though there is conflict between Dutch and Dillon, they are both highly competent and work well together for most of the movie.
So here’s my argument: Despite superior weaponry, the Aliens squad appears to consist of conventional soldiers with a top-down hierarchy, whereas the Predator squad is elite and performs at a level we’d associate with Navy SEALS. They are the product of what one author called ‘Draper Kauffman’s Trust Machine.’ This gives them the advantage in practically any confrontation. They are likely to react faster, exercise greater initiative, require less deliberation, and act with a more seamless unity of effort.
Unless the fight takes place under circumstances that heavily favor the Marines (eg flat desert that maximizes the Smart Gun’s utility) the Predator squad is far more likely to win.
For what it’s worth, Corporal Hicks had control of the platoon after Lieutenant Gorman. While the remaining Marines started listening to Ripley and taking her seriously, she was never part of the chain of command. You wouldn’t want her as your commander as she has zero experience in that regard.
This leaves us with the unfortunate reality that, out of the box, it’s the Colonial Marines being led by the wildly incompetent Lt. Gorman and now it doesn’t even sound like a fight.
Counter-point: We never see Wierzbowski in the movie so he might, in fact, be a ninja.
Schwarzenegger, Bill Duke, Jesse Ventura, Sonny Landham, Carl Weathers, etc.
Sigourney Weaver, Michael Behn, Lance Henriksen, Bill Paxton, Paul Reiser, etc.
Weaver & Scharzenegger cancel each other out, as the indestructible squad leaders. After that, it’s predator all the way. Ventura over Behn, Duke over Henriksen, and Christ, anyone over Paxton or Reiser.
Not to mention the fact that Schwarzenegger had already killed Behn, Henriksen & Paxton in a previous movie.
Aliens crew was larger and better armed, and is experienced at fighting humans. They won’t be in a situation where the environment makes Gorman make a really dumb decision (like taking all of their ammo and handing it to one guy) because the hypothetical explicitly excludes that. Also since no side gets an advantage, they should both be expecting to fight so the Aliens crew isn’t going expecting to babysit colonists. So you end up with a handful of super special guys with inferior weapons fighting a bunch of average soldiers with much better base weapons and a bunch of special stuff they didn’t even bring out in the movie. Aliens guys take significant losses, including Gorman which increases their effectiveness, but defeat the smaller predator team in the end.
Good anaylsis by JBB, and agree on the elite squad versus line grunts difference, but I still give it to the Colonial Marines.
I think too much is made of Gorman’s incompetence, yes he’s pretty much fresh out of OCS, and he made a a couple of bad calls and one monumentally stuff up when his troops where under the heat exchangers, but you have to allow that it was a decision made in a very out of the box situation against ‘unknown’ opponent. Going up against Dutch’s crew, yes they’re elite, but are still just humans with guns. Far more likely to create tactical situations well covered in training. Plus as mentioned with Apone being the cliched experienced, tough as nails Sgt to advise.
The gap in tech is vast, I’m not sure if it’s breaking the OP’s rules on source material, but
A) the Colonial Marine armour, aside from a hit in the face, would be virtually impervious to all of the Predator crews small arms.
B) the Smart guns as wielded by Vasquez & Drake use guided munitions, using both visual and motion tracking cues,
C) The Marines have their IR monocles, which will pickup normal humans just fine, so if it’s nighttime or jungle fight they’ll see easily.
D) Presuming Dutch’s crew is unaware of the tech, ambushes are out thanks to motion trackers. (Given if we’re setting this in a jungle say, I’m not sure how they’d handle all the wildlife, given Hudson apparently couldn’t tell the difference between a threat and a labrat (or was it a pet hamster?))
I just don’t think Dutch’s crews advantage in skills, etc, can overcome the tech deficiency, where the Marines aren’t elite, but have at least a few competent soldiers amongst them.
They still break down under pressure, though. Duke cracks and runs off after the Predator on his own. Billy gets obsessed and makes a last stand on the tree bridge. Both essentially abandon the unit.
For the Marines, Bishop and Burke are irrelevant. Neither are combatants, and shouldn’t be part of the discussion. Same with Farro and Spunkmeyer - they’re flight crew. So let’s stick with the ground troops. It’s against the op, but I’m not counting Ripley either as she’s not a soldier, and wouldn’t know how to lead combat troops.
I think it’s hard to properly judge the Marines as they were ambushed by an alien life form that was unknown to them and cut to pieces. We never see how the Aliens squad would act in a stand-up fight against human opponents. Would Hudson have fallen to pieces in combat against humans? Dunno. I suspect he would have done better, though, as you’re fighting a known quantity.
The Marines are fairly cocky and have implied combat experience, but I suspect their opponents are unlikely to be trained combat troops. Insurrectionist colonists or pirates seem likely to me, which doesn’t imply high level of training for their opponents. However, I would put them at higher level of training than the South American revolutionaries Dutch fought.
So we have Lt Gorman, Sgt Apone, Col Hicks, Hudson, Drake, Vasquez, Wierzbowski, Frost, Dietrich, and Crowe. We only know combat skills for Hicks, Hudson, Drake, and Vasquez as they’re the only ones who really fired a weapon (Gorman found his feet at the end, but his contribution was minimal).
The Aliens squad got cut to pieces before the fight even began, but managed to extricate themselves under heavy pressure due to Vasquez and Drake. Drake got buck fever and was killed outside the APC, but both were bad asses who could kick ass. Hell, after getting out Vasquez wanted to go back into the nest for Apone and Dietrich. Hicks began to crack in the nest, but rallied and got them out. Hudson lost it in the nest and never really recovered, but fought when able and went down fighting.
The Marines have two squads, each with a belt-fed smart gun. Each marine has a rifle along with an attached grenade launcher. Everything is firing explosive-tipped ammo. They slightly outnumber Dutch’s squad 9-7 (ignoring Gorman).
Dutch’s squad has two M-16s, three MP5s, a minigun, and an M60 belt-fed machine gun. Dutch has a grenade launcher, and Poncho can drop an MP5 for a 6-shot grenade launcher.
The Marines have an advantage in range and firepower. I think Apone’s squad keeps Dutch’s group pinned under heavy fire while Hicks leads his squad around the flank and kills them. They will take casualties, but I think they win.
If we bring in Farro, she nukes Dutch from orbit. Only way to be sure.
The Colonial Marines have firepower, armor ,and detection gear on their side. Only way Dutch could win is if his squad covers themselves in the anti-IR mud, and hopes the USMC walks into their ambush kill zone.
The SEALS analogy was spot on. The Predator squad is presumably smart and well led enough to do a little recon before committing to battle. Once they have eyeballed the Aliens squad and see their advanced weapons and body armor, they will adjust their plans accordingly. If the victory condition here is destruction of the opposing force, the Predator squad may deny the Alien squad victory by avoiding contact. Or, they may elect to use shoot n’ scoot harassment tactics just to keep the Marines under pressure. Although they have no way of knowing this, we have seen that a number of the Marines don’t deal well with pressure.
Overall, Team Predator will have to dip deep into the insurgent’s toolbox and that is something I think they know well. Team Aliens probably has some experience in asymmetric warfare, but I expect it consisted largely of kicking the shit out of unskilled opponents while receiving a lot of support from orbit. How they will do against very highly skilled opponents and without support is what will make this interesting.
I’m going to narrowly give it to the Predator Squad. I might lean the other way if I had more concrete knowledge of the Marine arms and armor. Is their armor proof against 20th century firearms? I don’t remember seeing them getting shot at enough in the movies to tell. Their small arms don’t seem notably more effective than those carried by Dutch and company. Heck, I don’t remember anybody on either side even having an optical sight on a rifle.
The Marines would have blinded marched into the ambush the Preds had set up, even if they knew there was an ambush because “let’s kickass, bro!”. The Marines would then switch to their secondary mindset: Panic. Then the Preds would do what they did after the camp attack: search the place and bodies for anything useful, like advanced armor, sensors and guns. The Preds prefer using stealth, cunning and whatever they can find in their environment. Preds vs Marines with even tech wouldn’t last long.
Even if we exclude the possibility of the Preds capturing the Marines’ tech, the Marines have to use their tech well doing the smart thing for it to help them win. The fight would go down like a special forces sniper with an old bolt action rifle vs a cocky conscript machinegunner.
Incidentally, I think the Marines would have had an easier time dealing with the Predator villain than the Preds did. The Preds’ main problem was that they couldn’t see the Predator, something which would be remedied with rather simple use of the Marines’ tech. The Marines would also benefit from the fact that the Predator would always give them at least a small chance and at some point they’d spot him and get lucky. Neither the Preds not xenomorphs are the type to willingly give their opponent a chance.
Now that I think about it, do we see the Marines use their IR tech? That would have been useful when they were in the dark bowels of the reactor. If they were too dumb to have at least one guy use IR while in a dark area, I’m not sure they would have done better after all.
The Preds would have also dealt with the Aliens scenario better than the Marines. They wouldn’t have made any dumb decisions at the start. Unlike the Marines, when they descended into the fusion power station and saw the xenomorph’s nightmarish wall growths, they would have sensed that it was an ambush or that they were dealing with something that was too big for them, certainly Billy the mystic tracker and Dutch would have had that intuition. They would have either have completely left the area or at least pulled back to an easily defensible perimeter to call for reinforcements. If neither was possible, they would have proceeded extremely carefully.
I note that the attitudes of the Marines have a tendency to improve over the movie, from macho bravado to (understandable) panic to making themselves useful. On the other hand, the Preds start off extremely professional yet some of them crack as the pressure increases.
They all switched to IR, but they didn’t detect the aliens. We don’t know if it’s because they blended in with the walls, or if their biology makes them difficult to detect. They remarked that it was hot in the nest, so that may have masked them. I don’t know what outside canon says about the matter.
The Marines needed time to recover from the fight in the nest, which would have been devastating to the morale of any unit. Once they bunkered in the facility, they did well.
I’ll point out that the Marines did proceed with caution, both entering the facility and again when they entered the reactor to search for the colonists, so they weren’t blundering grunts. They moved carefully and kept two motion trackers up and running on both occasions. Their trouble was they got hit hard and quickly lost 4 people (How would Dutch’s team have reacted if in the space of 30 seconds they lost Hawkins, Blain, and Poncho?) They probably would have lost Dietrich and Frost regardless (Dietrich was ambushed and killed Frost with friendly fire), but if everyone had rifles up it would have been a much different fight.
Which is an interesting aside – if the order to collect magazines hadn’t been given, would the Marines have been wiped out? The aliens overran the sentry guns in the deleted scenes, so it’s possible that with more firepower, the Marines may have felt more confident that they could deal with the aliens and not fallen back. That would have given the aliens more time to respond to the intrusion and called more troops to defend the hive. Drake’s smart gun ran dry before they reached the APC, and Vasquez’s wasn’t likely far behind. They may well have been overrun by sheer numbers.