James Cameron Has An Answer For The Terminator Franchise’s Biggest Question

Sarah Connor fires a grenade launcher in Terminator Dark Fate

With the arrival of Terminator: Dark Fate, the titular franchise finds itself swimming in new waters. Not only does the new movie make huge changes to the continuity (namely by totally ignoring the last three films), but it also establishes a major shift in future events. While Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor may have been able to successfully stop the creation of Skynet with her efforts in Terminator 2: Judgement Day, it doesn’t actually stop the coming artificial intelligence-driven apocalypse, as we learn about the existence of Legion in the new release.

This naturally adds to a question that the Terminator series has been asking for years: is it actually possible to change the future, or is the end of the human race at the hands of technology destiny? This definitely isn’t something that is totally wrapped up in Terminator: Dark Fate, but according to writer/producer James Cameron, there is a specific answer in mind.

Last week I had the wonderful pleasure of being a part of a roundtable interview in Los Angeles with James Cameron, who joined the conversation via video chat in New Zealand, where he is currently hard at work at the upcoming Avatar sequels. While discussing the latest chapter of the Terminator series – the first title he’s been involved with since the second, he fully acknowledged what the arrival of Legion means for the bigger picture, particularly for Sarah Connor:

I think one of the things that was against us from the beginning of this movie is the fact that we've got the future as Sarah was told it would take place, and then she obviously changed it. So now we've got to reconcile what she knew, what she knows about the Skynet future, with now what has transpired in the future that Mackenzie Davis' character comes back from… So now you have two futures, or two possible futures, as [Kyle ]Reese would call them. I think Sarah has had to adjust to the fact that there's probably a kind of inevitability, like a great kind of forcing factor that always tends to see the rise of an artificial super intelligence.

Continuing, James Cameron acknowledged that this is definitely the sense that you are meant to be left with as you are watching Terminator: Dark Fate. While certain details about the future can be changed by individuals in the present, on some level it all has the effect of throwing a stone into a stream. While it may cause a splash, and have a minute change on the current, it’s not going to cause the stream to totally change directions or stop flowing.

It was in acknowledging this that James Cameron and his fellow filmmakers found a direction they wanted to go with the world and Sarah Connor, starting with the events of Terminator: Dark Fate. Said Cameron:

That it's just the direction that the universe is heading. This is a collision that the human race is on, essentially with its own progeny, in a sense. So we came up with this idea of like what Sarah had done was she kicked the can down the road, but she's just going to have the same fight again, and have it again, and have it again, until there's a resolution.

And apparently that resolution has already been imagined. While working on Terminator: Dark Fate, the creatives didn’t stop themselves from thinking about where things go from here, and they evidently established a clear idea of what it is that’s going to happen and how things can reach a conclusion. As noted by James Cameron, it will require the new release to earn enough money to justify sequels, but if the Terminator team is ultimately given the green light, there is a plan that they’d like to execute:

In our grand scheme, what we came up with is there is a resolution. Kick the can as many times as you want, but there has to be a resolution. But that's... if we're lucky enough, we make some money with this film, and we get to do a second one, maybe a third one, we have a direction to resolve that innate conflict, you know, ultimately. I don't want to talk too much about that, obviously, for spoiler reasons, but you know, we've thought that through.

So how will it all unfold? Well, audiences will have the chance to watch the exciting first chapter in this new developing timeline very soon, as Terminator: Dark Fate is now less than two weeks away. Starring Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mackenzie Davis, Natalia Reyes, Diego Boneta, Gabriel Luna, and Edward Furlong, the movie arrives in theaters everywhere on November 1st.

Eric Eisenberg
Assistant Managing Editor

Eric Eisenberg is the Assistant Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. After graduating Boston University and earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism, he took a part-time job as a staff writer for CinemaBlend, and after six months was offered the opportunity to move to Los Angeles and take on a newly created West Coast Editor position. Over a decade later, he's continuing to advance his interests and expertise. In addition to conducting filmmaker interviews and contributing to the news and feature content of the site, Eric also oversees the Movie Reviews section, writes the the weekend box office report (published Sundays), and is the site's resident Stephen King expert. He has two King-related columns.