Paramount’s long-awaited Terminator Genisys hit theaters this past week, taking in a modest $28.7 million over the three-day holiday, and $44.1 million since opening on July 1. It did considerably better overseas, taking in $85.5 million for a worldwide haul of $129.6 million. It seems the overseas tally may ensure that the already-announced Untitled Terminator 2 (May 19, 2017) and Untitled Terminator 3 (June 29, 2018) go forward as planned, despite a spate of negative movie reviews. Whether you love it or hate it, Terminator Genisys presents a number of different changes to the franchise that many fans will be talking about for quite some time. Be warned, if you haven’t seen Terminator Genisys yet, there will be tons of SPOILERS below, so read on at your own risk.
Much like the original 1984 classic The Terminator, Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney) is sent back to the year 1984 by John Connor (Jason Clarke), to protect John’s mother Sarah (Emilia Clarke). As it turns out, the 1984 timeline Kyle goes back to is much different than he expects, with Sarah already knowing everything about the past, present and future, thanks to her “Guardian” (Arnold Schwarzenegger), an aging Terminator who has been protecting her since she was a child, after yet another Terminator was sent back to the year 1973 to kill Sarah and her parents. Terminator Genisys explores much more of the future war John Connor is waging against the machines in 2029. And we finally see how people and machines are sent back through time. We even visit old and new timelines alike in the years 1997 and 2017. So, how do these changes affect the franchise? And where can it go from here? We try to break down all of these alterations and examine where the franchise is headed.
More than any other movie in the series, Terminator Genisys drastically alters events that have previously been established, introducing fans to several alternate universes and a new version of “Skynet” who takes shape in the form of a character named Alex, played by Matt Smith. Just moments before Kyle Reese is sent back to 1984, Alex grabs John Connor, turning him into a cyborg, as hundreds of tiny robots enter his body. When this happens, it creates a different timeline, which explains why the 1984 that Reese is sent back to doesn’t match up with what he was told. In an interview with Crave Online, writers Patrick Lussier andLaeta Kalogridis explain that Alex is from an alternate universe in the multiverse.
“He’s not from this timeline. He’s from an alternate universe, in the multiverse, another of the many universes that exist. That Skynet is not from that timeline. This Skynet has been to this universe, and this universe, and this universe. That’s why he says, ‘I came a very long way to stop you.’ He’s not from here. So he’s watched it. He’s watched it happen a bunch of different times, and each time he’s seen it there is a different result but the same result.”
This is just the tip of the iceberg, though as this movie and its rather complex plot pose a number of questions for us to ponder, as we wait for Untitled Terminator 2 and Untitled Terminator 3 to answer these burning questions, including the intriguing end credit scene, how John Connor was altered, how J.K. Simmons‘ character fits into the story, the new timelines and much, much more.
Many fans were surprised when Paramount released a trailer revealing Terminator Genisys‘s big twist, that John Connor has been turned into a cyborg by Alex/Skynet, just before Kyle Reese is sent back to the year 1984. As we know from the original 1984 classic The Terminator, Kyle Reese is also John Connor’s father, after making love to Sarah in 1984. Oddly enough, while the film does take us to 1984, Sarah and Kyle never mate, so how does John even exist in the movie itself? John Connor dies in 2029 when Alex gets his hands on him. However, since Connor did travel back in time to the year 2017, time travellers’ are protected by a temporal wake that preserves their memories and existence, meaning John can still exist, in theory, because both he and Skynet/Alex traveled through time to the year 2017, knowing they both exist in another timeline. With that being said, it remains to be seen how John Connor’s existence will be addressed in the subsequent sequels set for 2017 and 2019. One thing is clear, though, Terminator Genisys only tells part of this new story, and we will likely need to see the sequels to find out how the rest of this story unfolds.