For the longest times, one of the slipperier questions about the in-the-works next Terminator movie was whether it’s a reboot or not. After all, it’s got brand-new people playing the core trio of Sarah Connor (Emilia Clarke), adult John Connor (Jason Clarke), and Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney), but Arnold Schwarzenegger is also returning to the role of a Terminator cyborg, in spite of very obviously looking several decades older than he did in James Cameron’s original film. Recent descriptions of Terminator: Genesis suggested it would tell a new story with the characters, but one which weaves in and out of the events of the earlier films. Now a look at the script has revealed that Genesis will be pulling a few tricks from Back to the Future Part II’s playbook.
You remember all the Marty McFly shenanigans from Back to the Future II, don’t you? Making good use of some of the stranger possibilities presented by time travel, Back to the Future II had a later version of its hero Marty running around 1955 at the same time as his earlier self, often just around the corner — or up a ladder — from the earlier him. Well, HitFix’s Drew McWeeny got a chance to read the Terminator: Genesis script and he confirms that the film will be approaching the franchise’s history in a similar way. Presumably John Connor won’t be trying to track down a copy of Grays Sports Almanac, but here’s what McWeeny has to say:
Kind of like Back to the Future, the Terminator: Genesis script folds into the first film in the series….There’s a scene in the script where literally, we see the scene in the first Terminator where Arnold steps out, the punks threaten him, he rips Bill Paxton’s heart out and takes his clothes and wanders off. And as soon as that scene ends, another Arnold Schwarzenegger who’s older, and bearded and a very different version of the Terminator, comes walking in from the other side and plays another scene, right at the scene of that first incident.
Here’s hoping the older Terminator brought those unlucky punks a change of clothes and some burial fees for poor Bill Paxton. If the description of an old, bearded version of Arnie’s beloved T-800 model is confusing you, they have actually provided an explanation for his appearance — and a narrative conceit allowing Schwarzenegger to return to the role that made him famous, but with 30 years more mileage. As you might recall, T-800 Terminators are a mechanical endoskeleton surrounded by living tissue: skin, hair, blood, the works. As Schwarzenegger explained last month, “The Terminator’s flesh ages, just like any other human being’s flesh. Maybe not as fast. But it definitely ages.”
I’m betting the new take on the famous “Give me your clothes” moment will be early in the movie, perhaps even the scene that first introduces us to the older T-800. That’s pure guesswork on my part, but I can see that being a striking way to introduce Arnie’s new/old model. Here’s hoping they’ve figured out a way around that “nothing dead will go” rule, because I simply don’t need to see Arnie’s 66-year-old bare backside at this stage in my life.
At any rate, it does make me curious to see what other established Terminator sequences will get the Back to the Future treatment. Maybe they’ll have a new action set piece unfolding in the background of T2’s infamous truck chase. Hopefully the script won’t go overboard with the concept, though. A little of that can go a long way, and in order to refresh the franchise, Genesis is going to need to be able to stand on its own, not just rely on nostalgia.