With the Terminator franchise, James Cameron is hoping it’s the past that’s not set. Cameron is finally revisiting The Terminator years after his last official involvement with Termintor 2: Judgment Day. I know I’m excited, and I imagine many others are as well. There is a little piece of news that has me worried though…
This next movie in the franchise will entirely ignore Rise Of The Machines right through Genysis. Don’t get me wrong, they should be ignoring those movies. Despite the few interesting plot points in each, none were executed well, to say the least.
This franchise is rife with time-travel shenanigans, requiring some real mental gymnastics to resolve everything into a singular timeline. These are due to the studios who handle the franchise – and there have been many – trying to pay tribute to the originals while opening up storytelling potential.
Rise Of The Machines, Salvation, and Genysis do their best to continue the original storyline. Rise doubles-down on the themes of T2 and shows the extrapolation that occurs every time someone or something is sent back to adjust events. It also explains how John goes from a street punk to a military leader. Salvation tries to break away and shows an adult John as he fights the war on machines, taking place before he sends Kyle Reese back for the events of the initial film. Genysis became a remix of sorts of all the events that have taken place before, trying to fold much of the franchise back on itself and explore multiple timelines. None of these worked very well.
James Cameron wants you to forget all of those. I’m sure many of you have. But what about the general audience?
Sure, it can be argued that nobody but the hardcore even care. You’d likely be correct. But it still stands that even a franchise like Fast And The Furious confused a lot of people with the weird placement of Tokyo Drift. When people picked up on the franchise after it became a big deal again, many newer fans went back to see the lead-up. And in that case, they did narratively tie-in. What happens when they aren’t supposed to?
Arnold Schwarzenegger is, once again, reprising his role. He’s been a part of every one of these movies. Although this is the best-case-scenario for what Cameron likely has planned (he’s also bringing back Linda Hamilton), Schwarzenegger’s presence does pose an issue with people who may feel like they understand what’s going on, or who may want to catch up before it comes out. How can Cameron and Paramount properly convey that every Terminator movie this millennium means nothing to his story? How is Paramount going to market it? We’ve seen how Sony screwed things up with 2016’s Ghostbusters. They decided to mix real-world timespan (30 years since the original movie and sequel) with the in-universe timeline (which we found out was entirely separate). It wasn’t apparent going into the theater if that movie was a continuation or something else entirely.
I have faith in the storytelling of Tim Miller as a director and am very happy to see James Cameron being in creative control again. I truly believe that he’s ready to correct the ship he let go a while back. There’s no reason to even get involved with a franchise he let go of 30 years ago unless he feels he has something definitive to add.
Here’s hoping that Paramount doesn’t force a long explanation of why certain events have no longer happened, and let Cameron just tell his story. Perhaps they can retrofit past entries by a suffix “James Cameron’s” to explain away the rest.
Regardless of what approach they take, I still have one burning question: is Edward Furlong coming back?
Let me know what you think of the franchise, and if we even need a new one? Should they reboot instead? Let it die entirely? Sound-off in the comments.