The long-running Terminator franchise continues to splutter on almost three decades after it peaked following James Cameron’s two classic installments, with new entry Dark Fate projected to lose over $100 million after becoming the latest cyborg sequel to disappoint at the box office. After 35 years, six movies and four underwhelming sequels in a row, time may have finally run out on Terminator’s stint as a viable franchise.
As Star Wars has proven over the last few years, these types of legacy sequels often require a tricky balancing act between bringing something new to an established brand without relying to heavily on nostalgia and callbacks to things that happened in previous movies, and director Tim Miller set out his stall early that he was determined to mess with the established canon.
When it was announced that Edward Furlong was returning as John Connor, it would be fair to assume that many expected him to be playing the battle-hardened version of the character that leads the human resistance against the machines. However, Dark Fate opens on a shocking note shortly after the end of Terminator 2, with John and Sarah Connor relaxing on a beach, only for another T-800 to appear and blow the young savior away with a shotgun.
It’s certainly a heck of a way to open the movie, although some fans are already making themselves heard about how much they disagree with the decision. Director Tim Miller explained why he made these creative choices in a recent interview though, saying the following:
“You’d think it was a controversial decision, but it really wasn’t. There was a lot of talk at the really early stages of ‘should this new savior be someone who was connected to the Connors?. Should it be John’s daughter or something like that?’. Which I was always against, because I’m just not a fan of the Chosen One sort of movie as I am of a hero sort of rising to meet adversity, who could be an everyman or everywoman.”
Miller went on to explain that the decision to kill John Connor off in the opening scene was made to further the story and add a new dimension to a franchise most people are already familiar with, as well as providing the motivation for his mother’s character arc.
“Sarah Connor is not a happy character. She is best when she is driven and tragic and you need some rocket fuel for that. You can’t have John be a 36 year-old accountant somewhere… You want to slap the audience in the face and say, ‘Wake up. This is going to be different’. I feel like that accomplished that. I hate the violence of it. I hate the idea of a kid being shot, but the dramatic fuel that it gives the story is kind of undeniable.”
While Terminator: Dark Fate doesn’t seem like it’ll live in the public consciousness for too long given the disappointing financial performance, it can’t be denied that the opening scene of the movie is going to be hugely divisive among the fans. Dark Fate was heralded as a continuation of the story started by James Cameron in 1984, but it essentially made the whole thing redundant instead by blowing John Connor off the screen before the title card even came up.