Why Terminator: Dark Fate Never Wanted To De-Age T-800 With A 'Digital Arnold'

Arnold Schwarzenegger T-800 in Terminator: Dark Fate

Terminator: Dark Fate has a lot of questions to answer, including why Arnold Schwarzenegger's T-800 is back after Terminator 2: Judgment Day and also how he is aging.

In this day and age, it would've been easy for director Tim Miller and producer James Cameron -- no stranger to technology -- to digitally de-age Arnold to make him look more like the T-800s we met in The Terminator in 1984 and T2 in 1991. Heck, there's even a creepy new deepfake showing young Sylvester Stallone in Arnold's role in T2. You can do anything digitally these days. But that's not the story Terminator: Dark Fate wants to tell. Instead, the sixth Terminator movie -- which is blowing off everything after T1 and T2 -- is very much interested in aging heroes Logan and Unforgiven-style.

Here's what director Tim Miller explained to Men's Health about the 72-year-old Arnold as T-800 in Terminator: Dark Fate:

I didn’t want to do a digital Arnold, that’s for fuck sure. We’re [embracing] the reality of what it means to be a person of a certain age who is called upon to be heroic. I love that. I always liked stories like Rooster Cogburn and True Grit, things like that — flawed heroes are so much more interesting than young, perfect ones to me. And he looks great. There were so many women on the set who were like, ‘Oh my God, this is the best Arnold ever looked.’ It’s different from Mr. Olympia — he was a god, but there’s something about him at this age. He has this regalness.

Best he's ever looked might be pushing it, but I do appreciate Terminator: Dark Fate making a point to showcase older heroes. That's obviously not just Arnold Schwarzenegger but also Linda Hamilton, whose Sarah Connor had the ultimate transformation from T1 to T2. She's still the same Sarah Connor we saw at the end of T2, the one who changed the future but didn't change the fate of the world.

But what about the T-800 the new team seems to visit in the boondocks to recruit for help? Apparently he's going by "Carl" now. Was the T-800 sent back in time again -- after its thumbs-up farewell into lava in T2 -- but this time using a more advanced Skynet technology that allows Terminators to age like humans? Dark Fate's trailers have shown Mackenzie Davis' Grace is a cyborg who sees herself as human, and Gabriel Luna plays a very advanced Terminator called the Rev-9 who can split himself in two.

Speaking of the Rev-9, Arnold Schwarzenegger hinted to a showdown between his old man T-800 and the upgraded young shape-shifter:

There are moments [in Dark Fate] where you kind of feel sorry for Terminator, for the T-800. It’s like, ‘I hope he gets destroyed, but I hope he wins against this.’

Yeah, there's still no fate but what we make for ourselves -- or what time makes for us. James Cameron has talked about bringing back the original films' leads in Linda Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cameron said he refused to help make the movie without Arnold. Cameron also said he had to convince Hamilton to return, but he loved being able to showcase a woman over 60 as an action hero in a way we almost never see on the big screen.

Terminator: Dark Fate will also bring back T2's Edward Furlong as John Connor, continuing his story alongside his mom. I'm curious to see what happened after T2, but also a bit fearful that it will take away from that story's near perfect ending.

It's possible Dark Fate will set up a new trilogy, but that will depend on how much money it makes. The R-rated sequel to The Terminator and Terminator 2 opens in theaters on November 1.

Gina Carbone

Gina grew up in Massachusetts and California in her own version of The Parent Trap. She went to three different middle schools, four high schools, and three universities -- including half a year in Perth, Western Australia. She currently lives in a small town in Maine, the kind Stephen King regularly sets terrible things in, so this may be the last you hear from her.