The Predator cinematographer Larry Fong has confirmed that there is an Easter Egg referencing Jean-Claude Van Damme's short stint as the hunter in the 1987 original. Van Damme was cast as the hunter and was severely disappointed upon arriving on the set from Brussels and seeing the suit that he had to wear. The red suit does look terrible, but it had to be that way for cloaking purposes, though Van Damme didn't get that at the time. He thought he was going to be able to use his martial arts background to battle Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Some hardcore fans noticed the Jean-Claude Van Damme Easter Egg in The Predator right away. The scene in question happens on Halloween night and you can see a costume that looks an awful lot like the original goofy Predator design that Van Damme was forced to wear. Cinematographer Larry Fong announced that the Easter Egg was very intentional on social media. He explains.
"Fun fact: a few of us were intent on having a JCVD Easter egg. Finally I called our costume designer Tish Monaghan and asked if she could make a little version for the Halloween sequence. She nailed it!"
Predator director John McTiernan knew right away that Jean-Claude Van Damme was not going to work out as the hunter. At the time, the young Van Damme believed that he looked like a superhero and did not want to wear a bulky costume, especially one that looked as silly as the one that he had to wear. Thankfully, Kevin Peter Hall came on board to deliver one of the best performances in a costume to date.
After letting Van Damme go, the production went back to the drawing board and started a new design that resulted in the iconic Predator that we know today. The design is perfect and was truly scary upon the movie's release back in 1987. Shane Black, who starred in the first installment, took the director's chair for The Predator and tried to expand on the look of the hunters by introducing the Ultimate Predator, which was highly effective, but not executed in the best way. Firing Van Damme was probably the best decision for the franchise and we more than likely wouldn't be talking about the movie today had he not been let go.
Shane Black's The Predator suffered at the box office, but it was a fun movie. Black tried to get former co-star Arnold Schwarzenegger on board for a cameo, but the actor turned it down because it was reportedly not a large enough role. While Schwarzenegger isn't in the sequel, Black and crew were able to get away with a Jean-Claude Van Damme Easter Egg, which is pretty awesome. You can check out an image of the original hunter in The Predator below, thanks to Larry Fong's Twitter account.