Just like he promised, the Terminator is back – for a sixth outing, in fact, and we now have our first glimpse of Arnie, Sarah and a whole bunch of fresh faces joining the quest to save the planet from the rise of the cyborgs.
Original director James Cameron, who is serving as producer on Terminator: Dark Fate, has been pretty open about the fact that the movie will be a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day, erasing the highly divisive 3, 4 and 5 entries from the canon entirely.
Not one to mince his words, after making the announcement, Cameron told The Hollywood Reporter: “And we’re pretending the other films were a bad dream. Or an alternate timeline, which is permissible in our multi-verse.”
With Dark Fate, the producer aims to “fix” the broken franchise alongside director Tim Miller, bringing back some of the magic from T2 into our technology-anxious era.
This is all well and good, but what the hell does that mean for the timeline? As far as the original sequel is concerned, Arnie’s T-800 was melted into scrap metal and Skynet was destroyed by John Connor, and yet the synopsis promises the return of both these things.
Let’s look to the trailer for clues...
Skynet: thriving not surviving
Now, as you may or may not know, Dark Fate (Terminator 6 or 3, depending on how you look at it) follows a new liquid-metal Terminator (Robert Patrick 2.0, if you will) who is sent from the future by Skynet in order to, well, terminate Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a human-cyborg (Mackenzie Davis) and her friends.
What we don’t know is – if the other films in the series are to be dismissed – what’s been going on for that 27 years since the end of T2. Okay, so Cameron’s banishing all the others to the franchise's timey-wimey parallel universes, cool. But the whole point of Arnie’s T-800 being dropped into that vat of molten steel was to wipe out the threat of Skynet.
And yet here we are in 2022 and the hive mind is still very much actively developing Terminator technology. During the trailer, when Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton) makes her (literally) explosive return, she says to Davis’s character Grace, “I've never seen one like you before. Almost human,” suggesting she has seen other robots since then – just none like this.
Then you’ve got Gabriel Luna’s killer robot of the moment, Rev 9. A two-component Terminator, the trailer shows off his ability to shapeshift into a solid metal core frame that can act independently from its liquid metal counterpart. Basically, it’s a combination of the first two films’ most terrifying technologies.
Clearly, the intention of T2’s final scene was not fulfilled – Skynet is alive and well and has been developing this timeline’s most advanced cyborg technology yet.
The new John Connor
With the war between humans and machines back on, who’s going to save humanity from total destruction now that John Connor’s out of the picture? Enter Dani.
As is shown by the teaser, Reyes’s character is protected by both Grace and, much to Grace’s confusion, Sarah. Both of whom clearly know something about the future and the fight with Skynet, which has serious implications about what Dani’s role will be in saving humanity in the fight against the bots.
One option is that the character is the new John Connor – after all, when she asks how they win (the war), Grace replies, “By keeping you alive.”
However, we could have another Sarah/John sitch on our hands and Dani is pregnant with the future defender against Skynet. This theory is reinforced when Grace asks Sarah, “Why do you care what happens to her (Dani)?” To which she replies, “Because I was her.”
If Dark Fate is to refresh the franchise, then it’d be safe to assume Cameron and co won’t want to stop here. So for narrative’s sake, it would make sense to pitch Dani’s unborn child as the future of the planet, rather than Dani herself.
The official synopsis confirms what we already suspected – that Grace is a half-human cyborg sent from the future to protect Dani. But just how did she develop that self-healing synthetic skin?
Since she’s not one of the big bads of the film, the character could be a Terminator of her own developed by the Resistance to help in the fight against Skynet.
However, Grace is under the impression that she is human. (Despite the fact that she’s not one – not entirely at least, because no human could kick the ass of an entire police squad, while butt naked no less.)
This teamed with the scars all over her body makes it feasible her form is the result of experiments to roboticise humans and transform them into entities even more powerful than Schwarzenegger's T-800, a la Sam Worthington's protagonist in Terminator: Salvation.
Yes, just like he promised, the OG Terminator Arnie Schwarzenegger is back for the sixth round. And while the trailer doesn’t give much away about the character, one detail everyone’s been talking about is his age.
In real life and on-screen, Arnie’s reached the winter years of his life, leaving many of us wondering whether it’s even possible for Terminators to get old.
When faced with this question on Reddit, Arnie himself replied with the following line from T2: “I’m a cybernetic organism. Living tissue over a metal endoskeleton.” So yes, they do.
Nevertheless, that still doesn’t determine who Arnie’s character is and what role he’ll have in Dark Fate. Is he the original T-800? Or is he a cybernetic organism made in its image? Or, as one of the more out-there theories goes, maybe he’s the human who gave his image to Skynet’s first successful infiltrator unit.
Some food for thought to keep us going before judgement day. Until then, we’ll be keeping you informed on all of the updates and details that trickle through to ensure you stay firmly sat on the high-tech hype train.
Terminator: Dark Fate comes to cinemas on October 23 in the UK, and is expected to debut in November in the US.
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