With the exception of Terminator Salvation (though his likeness was still used in that), Arnold Schwarzenegger has participated in every Terminator movie, and Terminator: Dark Fate is no exception. Dark Fate also marks the return of Terminator franchise mastermind James Cameron, who is producing while Deadpool’s Tim Miller handles directing duties.
That being said, before signing on to Terminator: Dark Fate, James Cameron made it clear that he would only participate if Arnold Schwarzenegger was involved as well, as those two have been friendly with one another for decades. In Cameron’s words:
I said 'Look I'd love to be involved in this, but I can't be involved in a Terminator movie without working with my good friend of 35 years, Arnold Schwarzenegger, even if it's to officially pass the baton to a new generation of characters. So that's what we all agreed to do. Then the question became what about Linda [Hamilton], does Linda want to come back?
James Cameron then added in the now-pulled interview he’d done with Flicks and the City that there was never a plan to have a new actress play Sarah Connor, as was done in Terminator Genisys, where Emilia Clarke played the character. If Linda Hamilton hadn’t wanted to reprise Sarah, then Sarah wouldn’t have been included.
Fortunately for James Cameron and the Terminator: Dark Fate team, Linda Hamilton was willing to appear on camera again as Sarah, her first time doing so since 1991’s Terminator 2: Judgement Day (though she did vocally cameo in Terminator Salvation). And from what we've seen so far, she won't be lacking in badass action scenes.
Terminator 2: Judgement Day also marked James Cameron’s last direct contribution to the Terminator franchise until Terminator: Dark Fate, but evidently he and Arnold Schwarzenegger have remained close in the nearly three decades since then. So after James Cameron regained the Terminator film rights, he refused to pitch in with Dark Fate until Schwarzenegger’s involvement was cemented. Though it’s not like Cameron really had anything to worry about, as Schwarzenegger is still the face of this franchise.
While Arnold Schwarzenegger’s age wasn’t an issue in the first three Terminator movies (though his skin was sagging a little in Rise of the Machines), it definitely needed to be acknowledged by the time Terminator Genisys rolled around. That movie had Schwarzenegger playing Guardian, a.k.a. Pops, a T-800 sent back to look after Sarah Connor as a child. As the years passed, Guardians’s skin covering aged like a normal human’s and his robotic body was somewhat in a state of disrepair in the present day.
We’ll meet another aged T-800 model in Terminator: Dark Fate, although it’s worth remembering that this movie is only serving as a direct sequel to the first two Terminator movies, with the entries in between having occurred in different timelines. It’s unclear how this T-800 specifically fits into the story other than that he will help protect Natalie Reyes’ Dani Ramos, who’s being hunted by a Rev-9 Terminator, played by Gabriel Luna.
It’s also worth mentioning that back in 2017, James Cameron talked about the possibility of including the human who served as the inspiration for the T-800's design. Whether or not that will be part of Terminator: Dark Fate remains to be seen, although Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines did touch on that in a deleted scene.
Still, given James Cameron’s mention of passing the baton (which he’s said before), if Terminator: Dark Fate gets a sequel, we should prepare ourselves for the possibility that this movie will serve as a swan song for Arnold Schwarzenegger and/or Linda Hamilton. If that’s the case, then this would definitely be a major, if not the biggest, shift for the Terminator franchise yet.
Terminator: Dark Fate hits theaters on November 1, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. In the meantime, look through our 2019 release schedule to learn what other movies are coming out this year.