The Terminator franchise is dead. Maybe. Probably. Possibly.
While the series of films was quite successful initially, over the years the newer movies received less than favourable reviews.
Starting from the original movie, simply titled The Terminator (which was released in 1984), the franchise was the product of the creative imagination of writer/director James Cameron and established Arnold Schwarzenegger as a huge star.
It was followed by a bigger budget sequel, titled Terminator: The Judgement Day, which pushed the envelope even further, mostly due to its groundbreaking VFX. In fact, the introduction of the T-1000 revolutionised the film industry.
But after the recent films, including Terminator: Dark Fate (aka Terminator 6), it seems like the franchise is finally dead. Or is it?
Where Things Went Wrong?
Fans were content with the story of Judgement Day and considered it an epic finale to the franchise’s storyline. However, studios got a bit greedy and made another film, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, this time without the involvement of James Cameron and it was not very well-received by either critics or the general public.
After the third film, the studio tried soft rebooting the franchise with a movie called Terminator: Salvation, which starred The Dark Knight star Christian Bale as John Connor. It was the first Terminator movie that was set in the post-apocalyptic future, and the first to not feature Arnold as his iconic character.
Salvation bombed drastically and was hated by critics.
“I didn’t think it was bad. I didn’t think it was embarrassing. I don’t think he let the franchise down in some huge way, but I did feel some sort of unease that it didn’t go beyond,” James Cameron opened up about his feelings towards the movie during an interview.
And it seems Terminator: Salvation created many problems for the franchise moving forward. Although it was not intended as a reboot, it convoluted the franchise’s timeline.
But it was only the beginning of many problems for the franchise.
The two sequels that followed, Terminator Genisys (2015) and Terminator: Dark Fate (2019), brought back Arnold as the T-800 but who sadly both forgettable and lazy.
Again, Terminator: Dark Fate, which brought back James Cameron as a writer, confused fans further as it was intended as a direct sequel to the original James Cameron movies (The Terminator and T2: Judgement Day) and not the other films in the franchise. Directed by Tim Miller, Dark Fate may be slightly better than the previous two films, but it still felt generic and did not introduce anything new to the franchise.
But is there a way to save Terminator?
Yes and no. The Terminator franchise feels like it has overstayed its welcome. However, there is a way to redeem this franchise once more by starting things over… again.
Terminator: Salvation was a step in the right direction but was poorly executed. It should’ve been a complete reboot rather than a time jump storyline. The studio kept making Terminator movies revolving around Arnold while neglecting the wider potential of the franchise.
They could have gone in the direction of films like Joker and Logan, meaning they should have made a movie solely about the origins of T-800 or T-1000 with a new actor.
Arnold has lost his touch with the audience, which is proven by the failure of the last two movies. It is time that the studio cast someone new, especially if they plan to reboot the franchise once more.
Of course, all of this seems highly doubtful, especially due to the poor performance of Dark Fate at the box office. It is highly unlikely that we will get to see another Terminator movie for another 5 or 10 years. Even if the studio wants to reboot the franchise, they should simply drop the old storyline and start from the ground up again.