This article contains Terminator: Dark Fate spoilers…
Watching Terminator: Dark Fate reminded me a lot of some of the new Star Wars movies. Just like The Force Awakens, Dark Fate follows the template of the original film only remixed and repackaged with some new characters. It’s also similar to the Disney era of Star Wars in the sense that it’s willing to kill off past heroes on a whim. Early on in the film, John Connor takes a brutal shot to the chest by a Terminator and dies. This is a creative decision that I personally like but has proven to be rather divisive among Terminator fans.
Interestingly enough, it wasn’t a polarising decision in the writers’ room. In an in-depth interview with THR, Terminator: Dark Fate director Tim Miller had this to say:
You’d think it [killing John off] was probably a controversial decision, but it really wasn’t. There was a lot of talk at the really early stages of should this new savior be someone who was connected to the Connors? Should it be John’s daughter or something like that? Which I was always against, because I’m just not a fan of the Chosen One sort of movie as much as I am of a hero sort of rising to meet adversity, who could be an everyman or an everywoman. I identify with those people much more than I do with Neo in The Matrix or King Arthur or something like that. So I was all for this being some new person that wasn’t connected to the Connors and had been chosen by the hand of fate.
Now, doesn’t that sound familiar? In The Last Jedi, Rian Johnson put aside the whole idea of bloodlines and chosen ones and revealed that the protagonist’s parents were nobodies — “filthy junk traders who sold her off for drinking money.” I love how the new character in Dark Fate isn’t so much a chosen one, but one who gets tangled up in the whole situation somewhat randomly.
Tim Miller also goes on to say that the death of John Connor was necessary to fuel Sarah.
We all knew a couple of things. One: Sarah Connor is not a happy character. She is best when she is driven and tragic and you need some rocket fuel for that. You can’t have John be a 36-year-old accountant somewhere. And really, when you think about it, he could be sort of a pathetic figure as a man who had missed his moment in history and was relegated to this banal, ordinary existence, when in fact had Sarah not chosen to destroy Cyberdyne, he would be the leader of humanity. Nobody wants to see that. Secondly, [John’s death], that’s rocket fuel for Sarah. And lastly, you need to clear the stage for these new characters. They are not going to be able to have their moment, or come into their moment, with John hanging around. There’s just no good way to do that.
Miller also talked about how he and his team wanted to start in a manner that is shocking and would jolt audiences out of their seats.
Everybody was in pretty strong agreement, and the way to start it, was really, you want to have this dramatic impact. You want to slap the audience in the face and say, ‘Wake up. This is going to be different.’ I feel like that accomplished that. I hate the violence of it. I hate the idea of a kid being shot, but the dramatic fuel that it gives the story is kind of undeniable.
Terminator: Dark Fate is currently screening in Malaysian cinemas.