Action franchises are a dime a dozen these days. Most of them get lost in the shuffle, but a select few have the distinct honor to be called genuine classics. One such action franchise is the Terminator series. Having said that, despite the iconic nature of the franchise's first two installments, the Terminator series has fallen on hard times in recent years.
In the face of increasing stagnation, the Terminator franchise recently received some stellar news when we learned that James Cameron would return to the series, with Deadpool's Tim Miller possibly circling as the director for the upcoming reboot. The responsibility of revitalizing the series has fallen squarely on their shoulders, but we have a few important ideas of our own. On that note, we have compiled a list of ways to fix the Terminator series, and we think Cameron and Miller would be wise to heed these specific requests. First and foremost, we want the next Terminator film to finally embrace one of its most bizarre and complex story elements: time travel.
Play With The Mechanics Of Time Travel
Audiences have become far more accepting of certain science fiction elements over the years, which means it's time to upgrade the way the Terminator franchise treats the concept of time travel. We live in a post-Primer and post-Looper world, and as such, the notion of time travel should be used to its full potential. It's not just a way to move from one point in time to another; it's a concept that can quite literally reshape reality. We want to see a Terminator film explore this idea by showing how chaos theory operates in a world where this outlandish technology actually exists. Time travel is much more than a vehicle; it's a concept with infinite potential for complexity and endless storytelling possibilities.
Use Humor Sparingly
One aspect of the first two Terminator films that often gets lost in the shuffle is the fact that neither of them is particularly funny. Sure, they feature moments of levity here and there, but they ultimately utilize an incredibly dark and foreboding atmosphere. That's very much by design, as the Terminator franchise is just a sci-fi slasher franchise with ample amounts of action thrown in for good measure. Beginning with Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, the series started to introduce additional amounts of humor (especially when it came down to Arnold's take on the Terminator), and that came to a head in Genisys, when the franchise transformed the T-800 into a clown. The series needs to get back to its horror roots and bring in comedy elements only when necessary and appropriate.
Don't Focus So Heavily On Judgement Day
First, it was August 29, 1997; then it was July 23, 2003. The first two entries in the Terminator franchise framed Judgment Day as a far off idea -- an ever-present and looming apocalypse. However, beginning with Rise of the Machines, the Terminator films spent more and more time focusing on the event itself, and genuine attempts to prevent it. There's nothing wrong with addressing Judgment Day in a Terminator film, but we don't want another mad dash to stop the nuclear winter before a ticking clock runs out. It's fine to broach the idea of Judgement Day, but it works far better when the characters discuss it as a far off concept. These films are intimate stories about a fight for personal survival that just happens to have grand implications; they don't need an apocalyptic scope every time out.
Don't Upgrade The Terminators Anymore
As much as we love Terminator 2's T-1000, the fact of the matter is that he's about as advanced as a Terminator model should get. In true sequel fashion, the franchise gradually upped the ante with each passing film to scale up the threat of every new evil Terminator. By the time Genisys came out in 2015, the Terminators had reached the point of godlike invulnerability, and the franchise lost its gritty "tech noir" charm. If the series wants to return to its former glory, it should scale down the abilities of the new Terminators and make them far less advanced than the more recent movies. Beyond that, it might be fun to remove the idea of a "good Terminator" altogether and get back to the idea of solely human protagonists using their wits against an infinitely more powerful villain.
Go For A Hard-R Rating
We understand that PG-13 movies regularly outperform R-rated movies at the box office, but the Terminator series is just not designed for a PG-13 rating. The series is built on a foundation of unsanitized violence and gritty brutality that was eventually neutered in Terminator: Salvation and Terminator: Genisys. If Deadpool and the upcoming release of Logan have proven anything, it's the fact that audiences get excited about an action movie that's not afraid to embrace an R-rating, and that enthusiasm could easily transfer into some strong box office numbers. For a new Terminator movie to truly honor the legacy of its best predecessors, it needs to show the willingness to get grim and bloody in a way that a PG-13 rating simply won't allow for.
Move Away From Schwarzenegger
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we come to the real elephant in the room. As much as fans of The Terminator franchise might not want to admit it, they are going to need to get used to a version of this series without the involvement of Arnold Schwarzenegger -- at least in front of the camera, anyway. The legendary 69-year-old Austrian bodybuilder will forever be associated with the legacy of this franchise, but it's time to hand it off to some fresh new action stars. With that in mind, the series should take a cue from the wholly underrated Sarah Connor Chronicles series for inspiration. That show introduced some genuinely engaging Terminator models without ever falling back on the classic Schwarzenegger T-800, and that's a framework for success as the films move forward.