Oh, how the Terminator franchise has fallen! At one point, Terminator 2: Judgment Day was considered one of the best films of all time, breaking box office records and garnering accolades aplenty. In 2019, the latest instalment in the series, Terminator: Dark Fate, lost the studios involved an estimated $130 million. It’s looking likely that Terminator‘s time on the big screen could be disappearing for some time, since no studio will want to touch a franchise that loses it money. There is a solution, though; one that most people could get behind. Soft reboot the Terminator franchise with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson in the lead.
While Terminator has always been predominantly Arnold Schwarzenegger and Linda Hamilton’s franchise, the lore is a lot deeper than the T-800, Sarah and John Connor. Paging through the comic books, you’ll find a host of other intertwined stories begging for adaptation. There’s an opportunity to tell a similar story, i.e. Terminator sent back through time to find someone, but without having to tread on the previous stories.
It’s no secret that The Rock is the hottest action star in the world right now. You could argue it was his introduction in Fast & Furious that turned it from a so-so franchise into the box office juggernaut it currently is. The Rock puts butts in cinema chairs, and there aren’t as many bankable actors in Hollywood as him.
The reason for his success is simple. In every way, he’s the perfect prototype of an action hero: He possesses natural charisma, good looks and biceps that need to be registered as weapons of mass destruction. He is the total package and the audiences and filmmakers love him.
The question is, can The Rock save Terminator from its downward spiral?
Given the right framework, yes, he can. It isn’t hard to imagine the fear in someone’s eyes as a physical specimen like the People’s Champ hunts them down. It’s such a mind-blowingly obvious casting that you wonder why it hasn’t been done yet.
And the best part? Fans have clamoured for The Rock in Terminator for a long time, especially after there were rumours he was originally considered for Terminator Genisys. Maybe it’s time to pull the trigger and get the biggest movie star in the world right now in a franchise that needs some star power to elevate it to its former glory. After all, no one wants it to be hasta la vista, baby.
Maybe Terminator: Dark Fate’s Sequel Should Be RoboCop Versus the Terminator
Not even the return of James Cameron as producer and Linda Hamilton as Sarah Connor managed to generate enough interest in Terminator: Dark Fate, as it struggled to reach $30 million at the U.S. box office. While the previous films featured John Connor versus Skynet in some shape or form, Terminator: Dark Fate attempted something new and went down a different road. But it doesn’t seem like the audience was receptive to it, so what now?
RoboCop is experiencing something similar. While the first film still remains the franchise’s high point, the 2014 reboot, starring Joel Kinnaman as Alex Murphy/RoboCop and an all-star cast, tried to reignite the interest. Unfortunately, it didn’t have the desired impact it wanted.
In 2018 director Neill Blomkamp promised he was creating a spiritual sequel to Paul Verhoeven’s 1987 classic with RoboCop Returns—ignoring the events of the two sequels. Like fate conspired with the alternative universe where Blomkamp directed Alien 5, he departed the project this August—though it seems like the movie will be going on without Blomkamp.
With two machine-centric franchises hanging in the balance, it’s surprising that the studios haven’t looked to the past for the future. In 1992 writer Frank Miller, artist Walt Simonson and colourist Rachelle Menashe teamed up for the four-issue RoboCop Versus The Terminator comic book miniseries, published by Dark Horse Comics.
Now just imagine The Rock as a Terminator in a RoboCop Versus The Terminator film.
“Since the source material for both sides was movies that I really loved, I thought it could be quite an exciting story,” Miller told Comics Scene. “The first step for me really was coming up with a way to make the two characters cross that wouldn’t be forced; to bring the two mythologies together without simply having a Terminator come back, chase Sarah Connor through Detroit and run into RoboCop. There had to be a connection between the two, and that connection would obviously be the premise of the two characters: artificial intelligence.”
The story created a link between the RoboCop and Terminator universes, mentioning the technology used to create the part man, part machine law enforcer as the catalyst for the future development of Skynet, ergo the Terminators. While the Terminators fought hard to protect RoboCop in the beginning of the story, it eventually turned into a war as Murphy’s human side prompted him to prevent that timeline from happening.
While RoboCop Versus The Terminator didn’t exactly revolutionise the comic book industry or become a seminal book, it was an interesting angle that opened up a host of possibilities and crossovers across other mediums. It spawned a 1994 video game, which was released on SEGA Genesis, SNES, Game Gear and Game Boy, and there was another crossover in 2011 called Terminator/RoboCop: Kill Human.
With the audiences seemingly uninterested in RoboCop or Terminator, something needs to change for them to have any sort of future in cinema. A hypothetical RoboCop versus Terminator film starring The Rock might be the solution. Right now, both franchises don’t have much to lose.