James Cameron Explains Why Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator Aged In Dark Fate

Gabriel Luna and Arnold Schwarzenegger in Terminator Dark Fate
(Image credit: (Universal))

When Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Terminator has said “I’ll be back”, he meant what he said as has done so over and over since the inception of his cyborg assassin character debuted in 1984. He’ll soon reprise his role in the upcoming Dark Fate alongside the return of Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor. But since the actor is now in his 70s, it begs the question… can Skynet robots grow old?

When CinemaBlend’s own Eric Eisenberg attended a roundtable with Terminator creator James Cameron and producer on Dark Fate, the question of Schwarzenegger aging was posed. Here’s what Cameron revealed:

Sure. Absolutely. Look, it's all in the first film - sweat, bad breath, everything. He's a cyborg. The 'org' part is organic. There's flesh over the outside. The bigger question is how something that's got some kind of synthetic material that's not flesh can come through the time field. But that's another geek-out story for another time.

Oh, that’s right! In the science fiction genre we hear words such as cyborg thrown around so much that sometimes its meanings can get lost in translation. “Cyborg” is a shortened word for cybernetic organism, which means a being made up of organic and biomechanic body parts. So the Terminator is part human, which means if he survived long enough, he could live to look like a 70-year-old man. Cameron continued to explain with these words:

Yeah, no. He's organic on the outside. He's got to eat to support the organic part of his body. It might only be 30% of him by weight, but he definitely has human flesh. The science behind that is complete bullshit, but it's a cool idea, right? I think the very first, and it's in the movie, in the first movie, he's actually got sort of gangrene and his wounds are kind of rotting by the end of the film. When the guy pounds on the door and says, 'Hey buddy, you got a dead cat in there?' It's like, he's rotting. His human flesh is dying before it all gets burned off. So all biological systems are subject to age unless you were to specifically genetically tinker that out, which obviously they didn't do. So his outer form ages. His inner form, his nuclear-powered endoskeleton or his power cell powered endoskeleton, can run for... I think he says 120 years in movie two. So the flesh will die and fall off eventually and then he'll just be the endoskeleton walking around. A little harder to blend in at that point.

This is certainly good news for Arnold Schwarzenegger’s continuing involvement in the franchise. It’s also an interesting aspect of the Terminators most of us have probably not thought of before. It’s true though that since the first movie, it’s been obvious that T-800 has flesh since he ends up looking pretty gnarly by the end of the movie, with cuts and bruises all over but no indication of any pain. Plus, the living flesh over his robotic skeleton allows him to blend in among humans throughout his hunt.

The movie’s “science” of sorts is a good tidbit to keep in mind as Dark Fate reaches theaters this weekend as audiences meet Schwarzenegger’s Terminator in his older age. The new movie is a direct sequel to Terminator 2: Judgement Day, ignoring Rise of the Machines, Salvation or Genisys. It’s also the first time James Cameron and Linda Hamilton have been involved in the franchise since T2. Dark Fate has recieved good buzz so far from critics, calling it the best of the franchise since the second installment.

Time will tell how audiences respond to it after a ton of blunders from the series for years. Early international numbers weren’t promising but Dark Fate is expected to pull a $35 to $45 domestic million opening this coming weekend. Cameron has more sequel ideas up his sleeve if it does well!

Check out Terminator: Dark Fate in theaters on November 1.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

YA genre tribute. Horror May Queen. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.