What next for the Terminator?


The Terminator timeline is a mess. Back in 1984, when the first film in the canon appeared in cinemas (and spawned a range of suitably gory toys just for kids), the terrifying chronology was part of its appeal; the hero, John Connor, sends his best man back in time to save his mother (and become his father in the process).

By the real-life year 2017, the events of the first two films have been both erased (Judgment Day was prevented in T2) and reinstated (T3 completely ignored the timeline established in the previous installments). The franchise was also partially re-booted in Genisys, a film in which John Connor is also part-Terminator and Arnold Schwarzenegger still looks 37 years old.

Confused? It’s the most convoluted family drama in history – and, by some quirk of paperwork, it’s about to come full-circle. In 2019, the rights for the Terminator franchise will return to beloved director James Cameron (Aliens, Titanic) a man who hasn’t been involved with the post-apocalyptic series since the credits rolled on Judgment Day back in 1991.

So, for the first time in two decades, there’s perhaps room for optimism among the Terminator fandom, but what can fans expect from a sixth iteration of the film, one which will reportedly serve as both a reboot and a conclusion to the long-suffering series?

Terminator - Arnold Schwarzenegger

James Cameron
There’s no harm in experiencing a little franchise fatigue as far as the Terminator is concerned; much like Alien and DC’s recent run of superhero movies, it’s been one missed opportunity after another. It doesn’t make the idea of rampaging robots any less exciting though, as evidenced by the range of media using The Terminator IP to appeal to customers.

In addition to the almost 30 video games directly based on The Terminator franchise, the lovable robot assassins feature in a slot machine carried by online casino operator, Betway. A five-reel title with more than 243 ways to win money, the Terminator 2 slot features appearances from Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) and the evil T-1000 (Robert Patrick). It’s one of several post-apocalyptic games on Betway’s site, along with popular slot Lost Vegas.

The Terminator slot may have chosen to pay tribute to classic Terminator, but going forward, the movie canon needs a facelift, not a simple reboot. The storyline, for all its violations of temporal mechanics, is limited by the fact that it has failed to evolve beyond the plot of the first movie despite three decades of trying. Even now, it’s still a drama based around the combined adventures of Sarah Connor, John Connor and the T800.

Terminator 3

Time Travel
Obviously, if the sixth film is both a reboot and a conclusion, it’s probably fair to assume that Cameron will lead fans down the same well-worn path previous directors wandered down. There’s something more than a little ironic about a time-travel film going nowhere. However, within the scope of this article, anything is possible:

And Arnie has to go.

Say what you will about Arnie’s acting skills but he’s the only person to don the endoskeleton that’s capable of portraying both a terrifying, emotionless killer and an incredibly endearing character, to the extent that the ending of Terminator 2: Judgment Day stripped away many a childhood innocence.
Schwarzenegger is the perfect Terminator – and that’s the problem; there’s no film unless the former governor is on-board. Sam Worthington, while a favorite of Cameron, played a more angsty character (being a hybrid cyborg) while Kristanna Loken’s T-X lacked the relentless intensity of Patrick’s poly-memetic monster, the T-1000.

If there’s to be a Terminator franchise after T6 – and there will be; it’s as inevitable as the real-life robot uprising – the series needs a new protagonist, not a CGI version of a young Arnie, not middle-aged Arnie’s head on a robot’s body – a brand new actor. With the rash of superhero movies out there, large men don’t exactly come at a premium in Hollywood.

The difficulties associated with replacing Schwarzenegger just reinforce the sentiments of Linda Hamilton though – that the Terminator should have ended after Judgment Day.

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