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What Next?

May 23rd, 2009

whatnext

WARNING! This post contains spoilers for Terminator Salvation.

Whether you thought it was brilliant or thought it was crap, it’s undeniable that McG has laid the groundwork for an exciting new series of films with Terminator Salvation. The key players have been introduced, the conflict between man and the machines has been reignited, and the Connor family is together again for the first time since T2. And seeing as contracts have already been signed, it seems inevitable that we’ll be seeing another Terminator movie within the next few years.

So the question is, where do we go from here?

To recap, Terminator Salvation ends with John Connor winning a decisive battle against Skynet at the precise moment when the entire human Admiralty is wiped out, meaning that all the pieces have fallen into place for Connor, who is now seen by the majority of the survivors as nothing short of a religious icon, to take control of the Resistance once and for all.

But the war is far from won. Skynet has perfected its ultimate weapon in the form of the T-800, and the Resistance has suffered a crushing setback following the destruction of its aquatic headquarters.

So, to sum it up in the most grandiose terms possible, the stage is set for the final battle where good will triumph over evil and all that other cool Biblical victory stuff.

The way I see it, a sequel to Terminator Salvation could be what X-Men 2 is to X-Men 1 (or, for those of an older generation, what Wrath of Khan is to Star Trek: The Motion Picture). The boring origins plot is out of the way, and now we can get to the good stuff.

For example, now that John Connor has met up with his teenage future-dad Kyle Reese, we can see the super-angsty interactions between father and son. I have the sneaking suspicion that many Terminator fans were frustrated by the fact that T4 glossed over the highly problematic relationship between John and Kyle. We’d been waiting twenty-five years to see these two finally meet each other, and unfortunately any deep conversations were interrupted by a surprise appearance from Arnold (which was totally awesome, so I really shouldn’t complain). But I guess I have to respect McG for not trying to shoehorn that conversation into the last ten minutes of Salvation. Rather, he put it on hold for the next installment when he’ll have time to handle it properly… which is an incredibly gutsy move, but he does deserve points for sheer confidence.

And then there’s the issue of time travel. If it needs saying again, here goes: I freaking love time travel. So I’m glad that McG has assured us that any future Terminator movies will focus on the mythical time displacement field. The time travel machine is the last big mystery in the series, and I’m glad that instead of being dropped into the background, it’s getting its own movie.

But then there’s the issue of Marcus Wright…

If you’ve seen the movie, you know that Marcus shuffles off this mortal coil with a classic redemptive, heroic sacrifice. But that doesn’t mean he’s gone. In fact, McG mentioned in an interview a few days ago that he’d like to return to Marcus’s character and explain his origins in the sequel.

And I think that would be a big mistake.

Don’t get me wrong, Marcus was a cool character and Worthington played him well, but it felt like Marcus was taking time away from the stuff we really wanted to see – like the John/Kyle dynamic and the issue of time travel. McG seems convinced that Marcus is a stunningly poetic commentary on what it means to be human, but that’s sadly not the case. Marcus is a guy with robot bones, and that’s all. There was no Shakespearean exploration of morality and mortality, nor was there any deep philosophy written into the character. He was just another soldier who happened to have some cool superpowers. I guess what I’m saying is, if it was up to me, I’d put the kibosh on the Marcus storyline. His character ended perfectly, so let’s not beat a dead horse.

But what would you like to see in future Terminator movies? What needs to be answered? What needs to be ignored? Let us know in the comments below!

jakeb the future