For the last 35 years, fans of the Terminator franchise have gotten accustomed to Arnold Schwarzenegger saying he’ll be back. And, for the most part, the actor has been good to his word. Even Terminator Salvation features the actor’s likeness, despite releasing during his time as governor of California.
But Terminator: Dark Fate could very well be his final appearance in the series. The film ties up the story of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, giving Schwarzenegger’s T-800 a fitting exit. So will he come back if Dark Fate gives way to a sequel?
‘Old, not obsolete’
Since James Cameron left after T2 in 1991, the franchise has lived a long, complicated life. Over the years, its rights have changed a few times, from one studio to the next. And yet, the powers that be have always been afraid to make an entry without Schwarzenegger prominently featured.
As the face of the franchise, the actor could be viewed as its main draw. But with every attempt to successfully follow T2, some fans feel the Terminator films have been forced to find more convoluted ways to tie Schwarzenegger into the story. At what point can we move past the T-800?
Schwarzenegger’s age factors heavily into both Terminator Genisys — in which he declares himself “old, not obsolete” — and Dark Fate. For a series still coasting on nostalgia, the actor’s presence might be its most blatant device to rope in longtime fans. Of course, now Linda Hamilton has returned as well.
Arnold Schwarzenegger may be back
With Terminator: Dark Fate freshly released to theaters, Schwarzenegger recently spoke with ScreenCrush about the possibility of coming back for another installment.
Y’know, that’s really not up to me. It’s really up to the audience. If the audience decides it’s time to move on, and to have a new Terminator, then they’re gonna go in another direction. If the audience decides they like to see me, and they think it’s cool for me to be in this franchise, to continue being in it, then I will be written in. Because Cameron is clearly going to be more and more in charge of this franchise, because it’s all going to revert back to him and [The Terminator producer and co-writer] Gale Anne Hurd, probably.
Schwarzenegger’s point that the franchise rights will revert to Cameron is a telling one. Obviously, the two have worked on the Terminator series as well as 1994’s True Lies. So Cameron’s involvement bodes well for Schwarzenegger’s continued reprisal of his role in some form.
How will ‘Terminator: Dark Fate’ perform?
The big question is whether Terminator: Dark Fate will perform well enough to even warrant a sequel. Box office projections for the film are decidedly less than great. So fans hoping for this sequel/reboot to stick may wind up with another incomplete trilogy.
Reviews too have been mixed. While some critics claim Dark Fate is easily the best Terminator film since T2, others say it falls short of doing the series’ history justice. If this is indeed the end of the franchise, at least Dark Fate provides Hamilton and Schwarzenegger with one last chance to share the screen.
The way the film ends actually opens up more possibilities that wouldn’t necessarily require either of the original stars of The Terminator. Perhaps there is a world where Terminator lives on but as a television series. Stranger things have happened in the age of the streaming wars.