Almost from the moment Paramount announced that they were developing a brand new Terminator trilogy, fans have expressed doubts about the wisdom of undertaking such a venture. After all, over the course of James Cameron’s groundbreaking original film, its amped up 1991 sequel Judgment Day, their passable 2003 sequel Rise of the Machines, and the Christian Bale fronted Salvation (which failed to launch a new trilogy, as intended), the series’ overall continuity has been bent, warped, twisted, and broken to the point of utter confusion.
While contradictions and paradoxes are common elements of any time travel story, the Terminator series is absolutely brimming with them, to the point where one’s enjoyment of the sequels can rise or fall based on whether key plot holes can be ignored in favor of suspending disbelief. Is adding to that already distorted legacy really a wise move?
It turns out that noted character actor J.K. Simmons (Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films) had similar reservations when he was first offered a role in Terminator: Genesis. Here is what he had to offer Empire, with regard to that subject:
“I was leery of it when it first came my way, when my agent sent me the idea for it. It’s a small part, which they insist gets much bigger in the sequels. But I was very pleasantly surprised by the script itself.”
This arrangement is reminiscent of the deal Paramount struck with former Doctor Who actor Matt Smith, who will be playing a character new to the franchise, and whose part will grow exponentially in Genesis‘ sequels.
As for how Genesis deals with the franchise’s convoluted established continuity, Simmons had this to say:
“This, I think, is a re-imagining. They don’t want to call it a sequel or a reboot. It’s the world that James Cameron created with Arnold [Schwarzenegger]. All the leading characters are characters who have existed in that world – the character I play is new to it.”
When asked about his fellow cast members, Simmons relayed nothing but good things:
“The script, I think, is very smart, and it’s going to be a wonderful part for Arnold to do. Jason Clarke (John Connor), Emilia Clarke (Sarah Connor) and Jai Courtney (Kyle Reese) are already shooting – we did a table read a few weeks ago – and all of them are going to be great.”
The actual plot of Terminator: Genesis remains frustratingly elusive, although rumors have suggested that it will expand and alter the original series continuity, while revisiting famous moments from the Cameron films. Arnold has already confirmed that he will play an aged T-800 model Terminator, which is apparently explained away by saying that the organic flesh covering the cybernetic organism’s metal endoskeleton is still subject to human-like physical deterioration.
One would also have to assume that a young Sarah Connor somehow gets time jumped forward Sarah Connor Chronicles style as well, since Game of Thrones star Emilia Clarke is much younger than the actor playing her son. Speaking of Chronicles, a new Terminator TV series is also reportedly being considered, which would hopefully help fill in the gaps between the original continuity and this new trilogy.
No matter one’s opinion of how Rise and Salvation turned out, the story of man (and woman) vs. (and alongside) machine has nearly unlimited potential for intriguing storylines, enough to likely make Terminator a franchise that endures for decades to come. Here’s hoping Genesis director Alan Taylor (Thor: The Dark World), and writers Laeta Kalogridis (Shutter Island) and Patrick Lussier’s (Drive Angry) film plan is good enough to put right what once went wrong. If not, well… the Terminator rights will finally revert back to James Cameron in 2019, so…
Terminator: Genesis hits theaters on July 1, 2015.