Terminator, a franchise that has proven itself to be a real tough thing to revitalize, is getting yet another reboot. The trailer for Terminator: Dark Fate dropped on Thursday, and it offers a vision for the future of the series that is both very confusing and also startlingly reminiscent of 2017’s depressing superhero road flick, Logan.
Dark Fate is the direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day and will (thankfully?) erase the other entries in the franchise from canon. James Cameron is back onboard as producer (also for the first time since Judgment Day), and this is being treated, essentially, as Terminator 3.
The official synopsis reads:
“27 years after the events of Terminator 2: Judgment Day, a new, modified liquid metal Terminator (Gabriel Luna) is sent from the future by Skynet in order to terminate Dani Ramos (Natalia Reyes), a hybrid cyborg human (Mackenzie Davis), and her friends. Sarah Connor comes to their aid, as well as the original Terminator, for a fight for the future.”
So, 27 years after the 1995 of T2 puts us at the very near future of 2022.
And here, Sarah Connor is back. Arnold Schwarzenegger, as the iconic T-800 who died in a molten pit of lava in T2, is also back. Skynet, the computer system hellbent on exterminating humanity that was supposedly retroactively destroyed by John Connor, also appears to be back.
The question on everyone’s minds: How the fuck does any of this make sense? Here are some big clues from the new trailer.
Welcome to Mexico
The struggle along America’s border was a central theme in 2017’s Logan. This film, which is directed by a fellow X-Men alum, Tim Miller (he directed the smash hit Deadpool), also seems to be taking aim at the Mexican immigration crisis. The trailer begins with a road sign that says “BIENVENIDOS A LA CUIDAD DE MEXICO” and later includes a shot of what looks like migrants sitting on the roof of a moving train.
The Terminator franchise is one of our great Los Angeles movie series. It seems like this film takes place mainly on the road (and on some trains too). Could the gang in this film be headed to Mexico from California, perhaps in an attempt to save someone critical to the survival of humanity in the future?
New faces, familiar story
One thing the Terminator series is known for is its penchant for cat and mouse stories with a super-powered robot wedged in right in the middle. Dark Fate seems no different in this case. We have two big new faces for the franchise: one played by Mackenzie Davis (a “hybrid cyborg human”), and the other played by Natalie Reyes (whose character is named Dani Ramos, according to the synopsis).
It seems plausible that Reyes, a Colombian actress, may be the Terminator franchise’s new link to the Mexican border. Mackenzie Davis’s cyborg character seems to be taking the role of Arnie in T2, protecting the ostensibly human young woman, Dani Ramos. Clearly the new Terminator (this time played by Gabriel Luna) is out for blood.
One can understand why an advanced human cyborg may be a threat to Skynet in years to come. But it’s not clear what a human young woman from the Mexican border could mean for the storied timeline-jumping saga of John Connor, Sarah Connor, and Kyle Reese. Is it possible that Dani Ramos has some sort of familial connection that ends up being responsible for the existence of Kyle Reese in the future?
Sarah Connor says in the trailer, “I’ve never seen one like you before. Almost human.” Mackenzie Davis’s character responds, “I am human.” The idea of humanity, and what it truly means to be human, is a huge focus of Terminator and something producer James Cameron has explored throughout his entire career.
If Connor has “seen” many robots (or Terminators, for that matter) before, then what, exactly, has the future of humanity been like, since the events of T2. When Arnold Schwarzenegger’s T-800 was destroyed at the end of Judgment Day, the hope was that Skynet would never be able to acquire the technology to create a Terminator in the first place. But, based on the high-tech robots we’re seeing in this trailer, that hope must not have been fulfilled. Skynet must be active, or another robotics company that’s big enough to produce advanced cyborgs to rival humanity.
The T-800 has aged
As far as we know, Terminators do not age. But the reveal of Arnold Schwarzenegger as a much older man in this trailer seems to say differently. We saw this character get destroyed in T2. But, there’s no telling how many T-800s were created in humanity’s future. If a T-800 was sent back in time again, it could explain why Arnold exists in this 2022 timeline. But why has he aged? Could this mean that Skynet’s technology is merging with humans, creating androids that grow over time, just like us? It might fall in line with the theme of Mackenzie Davis’s character wondering what it means to even be a human.