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The Terminator franchise, what would you do to change it?


Shaper Savant
Jul 26, 2012
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I've been rewatching everything Terminator recently. Mostly so I could start in on The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Which, for the most part, I've liked so far.

Anyway, after watching all the films, I realized how much I dislike Terminator 3. :/ I decided that if it wasn't for T3 this would be one of my favorite movie franchises. Got me thinking, what would I change to make this series more exciting, make more sense, and overall just better quality? I know most people would say, "I would've just stopped after T2." Fair enough. But that means only two terminator films. I'd rather have more, better ones.

So here's what I decided I'd change:

T2 - James Cameron did a good job portraying John as quite an intelligent preteen in T2. He seems to comprehend most of whats happening, he's independent and he knows his tech. Guns and cars are things that he's obviously learning as he goes. I think sometime before the scene where Arnold is being lowered into the molten steel, we should have seen John take Arnold's neural net processor out of his head. He would keep it with him just in case so he had a way to bring back his friend and father figure. He assumes that as long as the chip is with him, it can't be used for evil. WRONG!
T3 - Young John doesn't realize as long as the chip exists, Skynet can't be entirely dead. Thus Terminator 3 happens. But there's so much I'd change about T3 its not even funny.
Primarily, John wouldn't be a druggie ****head ****up. The movie would start with just one terminator (probably Arnold) coming back in time to kill rebellion leaders. John would have to fight it alone. He would have to protect Kate from it, etc. Then, he would reprogram it with the chip he kept. The Terminator would then attempt to get them to the bunker, when they are confronted by the T-X. Then T3 ends in pretty much the same way.
Also, the appearance of the T-X should prove something else. That with the events of T2 (destruction of Cyberdyne, etc) the time displacement would have changed the future so that the resistance hadn't "won" as stated by Reese in T1. Thus, allowing Skynet to persist and invent a superior model terminator to the T-1000. This would allow for our belief in the events of Terminator Salvation.

So there you go. What would you guys change, if anything?
Retcon T3 and T4 out of existence and start all over again with two alternate storylines diverging from T2 -- keep the Sarah Connor Chronicles and create a new alternate storyline for film sequels going forward.
There's nothing to change about Cameron's films except maybe move T2 forward to 1997, because there's NO WAY that kid is 10. Minor issue though.

I like T3, but I'd remove a few corny lines and continuity errors for a start, and secondly I'd add in a more substantial future arc. Woven into the film I'd have scenes that showed the last moments of John's life in 2032, Kate reprogramming the T-850 after it has killed John, and finally Kate sending the T-850 back in time. This would more thoroughly close the series, but I'm pretty happy with the ending we got tbh. I like the film more than most.

Beyond this I don't see potential for more films at all. Salvation was awful and pretty much proved the point. I wouldn't mind seeing maybe a TV series set in the trenches of the future war. That could be quite interesting, but ultimately the franchise wasn't about that setting, and I can't imagine setting an entire film in that world. The final battle for the future was always about the present.
Skynet's rise would happen in 1997, this way kyle reese doesn't make the original John Conner non existent.
Have Cameron Direct his vision of a T3.
Get the rock to take over for anrold as the new terminator. I want the rock to approach with the same dryness and mechanical ways that Arnold did.
^ See that's something that sounds so much like fan fiction that I don't want to see it. Sometimes, it's best not give geeks everything they want. No offense.
I would leave it alone after T2 nothing since has been fully worthy of being a part of the franchise.
"The Terminator franchise, what would you do to change it?"

End it!
To me, it made zero sense to recast John and Kate, and it was even distracting. It makes for a horrible marathon experience seeing John Connor looking like this in T2, and then- oh wait - there's another guy in T3, to - hmm, there's Christian Bale now - in T4. There's no continuity there, and it doesn't feel like a John Connor story. It feels like "some guy" in each movie, and I have no feeling for the character's arc. This is a minor gripe, since recasts happen all the time... but come on, every movie?

Having said that, I like T4, and it proved to me that Arnie isn't necessarily required to be in a Terminator film. I'd love to see less Time Travel stuff, and more post-apocalyptic robot stuff, like The Walking Dead with machines instead of zombies.

Also, I'm absolutely in love with the idea of Arnold being in a new Terminator film, playing a human general whose likeness is used to create the Terminator, which explains why Real Life Arnold is an old man (because they're using a younger version of his likeness to make a Terminator). Perhaps Arnold is a protagonist, and doesn't realize that his identity is being used to make Terminators, so he fights back - Real Arnold vs. Terminators. It makes for a great story if the general Arnold is playing isn't aware that this is happening and decides to revolt. It's almost tragic because he ultimately "becomes" the villain, yet the human being the villain is based on is a hero.

One more thing: Christian Bale was totally underutilized. That was pathetic. He was there for all of 15 minutes.
T1 - classic
T2 - classic
T3 - average
T4 - meh

The first two are all I'll ever need Terminator wise.
Have the Terminator travel through time to save Edward Furlong's career.
To quote Henry Jones, Jr, in regards to the future (hehe) of this franchise:

"...Let it go.."
The thing is, they will make new ones, one way or the other. So the question is which way could we get the best film?

I used to be so against a re-boot, or a re-boot at least to sequels. But honestly that will be the only way to at least preserve the first 2 in my eyes.

My dream would be do go back and re-start from T3 on wards. But I know that won't happen, so I figure it is more likley for a re-boot, which I would hope would be done with justice unlike the last two films.
One angle I think might be interesting is if you overlook T3 & TS and go back to the idea of John Connor, aged around 30, living somewhat off-the-grid but not so much of a wash-out as he is in T3. He's more what we think of as John Connor: intelligent, capable/resourceful, a man of few words, hardened (and a bit traumatized) by his experiences. He's found a manageable way of living in the city (LA) under an assumed ID, keeping a low profile, and if Skynet has an idea of how he looks based on his future self, he finds modest ways to alter his appearance (beard, hair, contacts, nothing that would require Rick Baker).

Something early on forces him to have to blow his cover. It could be him coming to someone's aid (someone not tied to his "destiny"). Either he's arrested (say, he beats the piss out of a group of guys trying to mug/rob someone and he's the only bystander close by who can help) or his prints are lifted from the scene. At this point, Terminators in various cities are waiting for Connor to pop up. Only here, they don't know they're Terminators; other machines (or humans from the future who for whatever reason are sympathetic to the machines) program them to be sleepers, with memories that allow them to believe they've lived entire lives as humans.

When Connor's location is revealed and his image sent out, the sleepers become active. They're under the impression that they're human until they happen upon Connor, at which point they "switch on", and their underlying program takes over. In this way, Connor has no clue who might be a Terminator. There's something creepy about this; literally anyone could be a machine and he wouldn't know (which is the best way to hide; not sending back Arnold clones or socially-awkward monotone robots). There's a movie with Denzel where a spirit or demon or something jumps from host to host, making it hard to kill (I think). This would be similar, where even a squeaky-clean 12 year-old girl having ice-cream w/her adoptive mother might pass John Connor and suddenly "switch on". I think this is apt, since "Terminator" was more a horror film than action film.

A through-line you could crib from T:SCC is that John realizes he and his mother's actions only altered the time-line. The way Skynet comes about has evolved and taken a new path in much the same way as actual technology has (did anyone think of "the cloud" back in the T1 days? Even T2:3D uses the conceit that you can take out a central location where the AI "brain is stored), so John, fearful and irrational, goes on a crazy a$$ rampage to try and take out the inventors of these innocuous technologies, mirroring his mother's actions. Other soldiers from the future, now knowing John's whereabouts, have to talk him out of it/engage him, explaining that you can't destroy progress. New tech will be invented and adopted and we can't know how any or all of these things might end up fusing together. It may not take the military anymore.

So, John's arc is eventually choosing his role as leader, and this is really what "no fate but what we make" means: that life will unfold how it unfolds and all that you can do is choose how to live in it. Enough rambling for now :woot:
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I enjoyed Terminator Salvation so it would be great to have a sequel and possibly Justin Lin for director.

James Cameron isn't coming back.
Haha! I didn't realize there were so many Terminator fans on these boards. Glad to see it.

So this morning after I posted this, I realized the Sarah Connor Chronicles basically ignores T3 (and possibly TS, though there's no way to confirm this) so that is actually a great retcon for me. Just completely ignore T3 and I'm pretty happy. :p

I find TS to be pretty great in comparison to T3.

And @bullets, I heard he was going to produce T5
I would change Terminator Salvation to some degree. I would give it a different look, make it darker, change the music, and lastly, change the execution of the plot and enemy. It's far too bland if we are talking about the story and characters side. The dialog is nothing to write home about as well and the acting is mediocre. It seemed like it lacked gravitas.
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Terminator Salvation should have been all about Bale as Conner, not Sam Worthington as another terminator. I think making films about the grown up John Conner fighting in the war and saving the world and everything that Arnie's Terminator is trying to stop in T1 is a cool idea, but Salvation just wasn't a good movie. The idea is good, but that movie sucked. I'd say try a very loose sequel to Salvation that focuses on Conner and the war and make it good.
I would erase T3 and Salvation from existence and continue the franchise with a film that acts as a prequel to T1, set in the future war before Kyle Reese goes back in time. It would chronicle John Connor's rise to power.

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