The Terminator: Dark Fate panel during San Diego Comic-Con 2019 opened with a surprise, apparently live call from producer James Cameron.
Cameron called in “from Pandora,” AKA the set of Avatar 2, 3, and 4, as he explained. “Everyone’s always whingeing about how long it’s taking to get Avatar done, so I figured I should stay here and work today,” Cameron explained. He didn’t share anything about the Avatar sequels themselves, saying it would take too long to explain what’s going on there, and that the technology is so cutting edge we wouldn’t understand it anyway.
More importantly, the panel debuted some exclusive Comic-Con footage of the movie, including an extended look at the highway chase scene that we previously glimpsed in the trailer. During the scene, Mackenzie Davis’s “enhanced” human character protects Natalia Reyes’s character from the attacking Terminator played by Gabriel Luna. Luna’s villain splits into two separate Terminators, and Davis fights them both off until she’s finally cornered. Just in time, Linda Hamilton’s Sarah Connor arrives, laying into both Terminators with a variety of weaponry, including a shoulder-mounted rocket launcher. As she drops a grenade onto one from above, she utters the famous line, “I’ll be back.”
The footage continued with a look at Connors’ conversation with Davis and Reyes afterward, in which she explains that she and her son, John, stopped Judgment Day from happening in 1991, and that she now hunts Terminators. The group visits Schwarzenegger’s character, the mysterious T-800, at his remote cabin, where he’s apparently posing as a human named Carl–a name Connors refuses to call him. She promises to kill him eventually, but in the meantime, they accept his help protecting Reyes’s character.
Earlier, during the panel’s opening, Cameron said his one stipulation to come on board as producer for Terminator: Dark Fate was that Arnold Schwarzenegger be involved, and that he was excited to come up with a new character for Arnold–the mysterious T-800. Cameron said he also had to convince Linda Hamilton to come back for the movie, as she was conflicted about returning. “Thankfully, she agreed, and we built the story around that,” Cameron said.
Cameron also casually dropped a bombshell: Edward Furlong, the actor who portrayed young John Connor in 1991’s T2, will reprise his role in Terminator: Judgment Day.
Director Tim Miller was the first to take the stage during the panel itself, and he confirmed Terminator: Dark Fate is rated R. “It’s because the fans kind of demanded it, in a way,” he said. “I had a whole other plan in case it didn’t go R–I had a backup plan. But the DNA of Terminator is an R-rated f***ing movie. So to not do it R feels disingenuous to the source material. So we knew that’s what the fans wanted, we knew that’s what we wanted to do, and even though it was up in the air, that was always my plan.
“I got so many takes of Linda [Hamilton] saying ‘f***,’ it’s amazing,” Miller laughed.
Miller also explained how the movie fits with the Terminator timeline, and how the franchise’s time travel works in his mind.
“I feel like time travel with multiple realities loses some stakes,” Miller said. “If you can change time and it could be anything, it could be multiple or alternate timelines, I feel like you lose a little bit of the dramatic stakes. So in the Terminator franchise, there is only one timeline.”
Miller referenced the end of Terminator 2, when Sarah Connor destroys Cyberdyne, saying Dark Fate will explore the consequences of that choice. “Sarah’s living with the consequences of that decision, and we see how it rolls out 20-some years later.”
Linda Hamilton was next to take the stage, and she elaborated on her decision to return to the franchise. “It was the passage of time, and I was very intrigued by the characters seeing that time changes everything, what has happened, who she is now, and what has happened to make her who she is now, and there were so many more possibilities 27 years later, that I felt that there was just a world of richness that I could explore, and then rock it as a woman of a certain age,” the actress said.
After the rest of the cast took the stage, Arnold Schwarzenegger finally emerged. The iconic star said he “needed to come back.”
“I’m addicted to Terminator,” he said. “Terminator was the movie that really launched my action movie career…From that moment on, everything changed in my life.”
Terminator: Dark Fate hits theaters November 1, 2019.