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As far as sci-fi franchises go, there are few quite as beloved as The Terminator. James Cameron made history with his first two installments in the franchise, with Terminator 2: Judgement Day considered one of the genre's most successful outings. Cameron is returning to the franchise, producing Tim Miller's Dark Fate, helping with the editing process. And it turns out the legendary filmmaker already knows where he'd take any upcoming sequels.
Terminator: Dark Fate will start a new timeline, serving as a direct sequel to Terminator 2. The movie will ignore all the other sequels and timelines that have come throughout the years, and bring back original stars Linda Hamilton, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Edward Furlong. There's no guarantee for any more sequels, but it turns out that James Cameron knows how he'd like to see the story continued. And it all has to do with Terminators like Mackenzie Davis' Grace. As he recently put it:
I feel like one of my major motivations on this film or coming back to the, hopefully franchise, was to explore the human relationship with artificial intelligence. I don't feel we did that in Dark Fate. I feel that we set the stage or we set the table for that exploration, and that exploration would take place in a second film and a third film. And we know exactly where we're going to take that idea. What we wanted to get in the first movie was this idea that it's just going to keep happening. The names will change, but the basic conflict is going to continue to take place until it gets resolved one way or the other.
Well, this is interesting. While The Terminator franchise has always painted artificial intelligence to be the world-ending enemy, James Cameron wants to take a new approach with possible sequels to Dark Fate. Namely, by exploring the humanity in these titular machines.
James Cameron's original Terminator movie made the machines out to be the enemy, as Skynet Artificial Intelligence became self-realized, and promptly wiped out life as we knew it. Arnold Schwarzenegger's debut was as a villain, singularly focused on killing Sarah Connor before she could give birth to future hero John Connor. He eventually became a hero in Terminator 2 and the other sequels, but there was always the threat of robotic apocalypse looming in the air.
While Terminator: Dark Fate will show Linda Hamilton and company avoiding the end of the world, there are multiple "good" Terminators in the movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger is playing the aged Terminator Carl, while Mackenzie Davis' Grace is a human/cyborg hybrid. So clearly the upcoming sequel is breaking new ground for the franchise.
Later in his roundtable with CinemaBlend's Eric Eisenberg about Terminator: Dark Fate, James Cameron went on to speak about possible sequels, saying:
And so I believe we've set that table and if, like I said, if we get the opportunity, we know where to take the story so that it doesn't become... I think you start simple and then you elaborate, and you can elaborate over a series of films. If they're made by the same people with the same intentions and the same philosophy, then there can be a kind of a story arc across multiple films. But that said, I think Dark Fate stands alone as a pretty good one-time story.
While James Cameron admits there's no guarantee that Terminator: Dark Fate will get a sequel, the Avatar and Titanic filmmaker seems to have some ideas regarding where the story should go. But he also admits that Tim Miller's blockbuster stands on its own two feet as an independent movie.