The termination of John Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate is a sore point for many Terminator Fans, dividing an already fractured fanbase even more.
Some fans accept the big change and accept the film as a true sequel to Terminator 2 but some fans (including us) have chosen to ignore the movie as being canon.
For us it wasn’t necessarily the death of John which disallows Dark Fate from being canon but the fact that we simply did not like the removal of the stakes from the first two movies, and don’t feel it sits in the same world as the movies Directed by James Cameron (regardless of his involvement in this one).
As stated, there are many different opinions but even many people who like the movie state that killing John, and the way it played out, was a mistake.
One of the issues we (and many other fans) have raised is that killing John impacts on watching the first two movies in a negative way. When you watch them back the stakes and importance of keeping John alive are completely nulled, thus making the story and replacement McGuffin saviors like Dani Ramos pointless, that is unless you ignore Terminator: Dark Fate from the canon of the first two movies altogether, this immediately fixes the problem for those fans that take issue with plot decisions made, or found the movie lacking in any regard.
Alien 3 has a similar problem with the deaths of Newt and Hicks but those characters were not as ingrained in the Alien lore, from day one, in the way John is/was with Terminator. Alien 3 and the decision to kill off two beloved characters infuriated Aliens fans, so why would this be any different for T2 fans?
James Cameron himself stated that killing Newt and Hicks was a “dumb” idea then proceeded to senselessly mirror it with Dark Fate.
“I thought it was dumb [that Hicks and Newt were killed off]. I thought it was a huge slap in the face to the fans. I mean look, [David] Fincher’s a friend of mine, and David is an amazing, amazing filmmaker, unquestionably. That was kind of his first big gig, and he was getting vectored around by the studio, and he dropped into the production late and they had a horrible script and they were rewriting it on the fly, and it was just a mess. I think it was a big mistake. So I certainly — had [producer Gale Anne Hurd and I] been involved, we would not have done that because we felt we earned something with the audience with those characters.”SDCC panel (2016)
It seems that Linda Hamilton knew this would be a problem for Terminator fans and that it would upset them…
This is going to upset a lot of people and a lot of the fan base who just think that it has to remain true to the first two stories. The whole concept of Terminator, that John Connor is the hope for the future of mankind and then to have him cut down like that. I think it’s going to upset a lot of people!Linda Hamilton told Film Stories
… but regardless she defended James Cameron’s decision to kill John, and thought it was an interesting place for her character (Sarah Connor) to come back to the franchise on.
“I don’t think Sarah and John would be there at all if they were still fine and strong. I thought it was a great leaping-off point for my character. To create a new fuel and fire for Sarah Connor, I thought it was a very good story point. I’m not one that clings to past ideas… I just think it’s much more interesting to launch from a new place.”Linda Hamilton told The Hollywood Reporter
Brett Azar (Young Terminator Bodydouble) told TheTerminatorFans.com how Linda Hamilton oversaw and took control of the scenes involving her younger counterpart (Maddy Curley), and Brett’s young ‘Carl’ role in assassinating young John (Jude Collie).
Linda Hamilton really took control of Sarah Connor’s reaction to that, because she was there for it, she wanted to see- like, she wanted to make sure that it was as intense enough to be believable for her, she was so… personal with that reaction of seeing John shot, and she wanted to make sure that it was done justice, so she took control of that whole fight scene and uh, it was funny ‘coz we were doing the fight rehearsal and her [Linda Hamilton / Sarah Connor] stunt double, Maddie, did what we were choreographing, and she [Linda] goes ‘No, no no! It’s gotta be- you know, she knows, she’s smart. She’s not gonna just try to punch this guy in the head; it’s not gonna do much. She’s gonna go after the gun – she knows the gun is what’s gonna do the damage’.Brett Azar told TheTerminatorFans.com
So, she goes like ‘Okay Brett, get into your position and… ‘ so I walk up and I hold the gun and she jumps on my back, grabs the gun barrel and elbows me in the lip, and turns around and scratches my face – she clicked into Sarah Connor and it was so cool! But she was beating the sh*t outta me. So after that she clicks out and she goes: ‘See! That’s how it’s supposed to be!’ and then she was like ‘Oh my god, Brett, I’m so sorry!’ and I was like ‘No, don’t worry, they CGI my face – do whatever you want.’ So, she was so cool.”
What was apparent from talking to Brett was how seriously Linda Hamilton took the scenes, she had already stated in other interviews that she was worried about letting fans down.
*Scroll down for our full Youtube video interview with Brett Azar.
Linda Hamilton elaborates to Film Stories more on the filming of John Connor’s death…
I was there only to give guidance, I guess.Linda Hamilton told Film Stories
You know not really in any supervisory role, but [director] Tim [Miller] wanted me to bear witness, since she is the woman that they cast for her body mostly, for resembling Sarah Connor back in the day. And it was really hard to watch on every level and just the way that she fought.
She was an actress and a good actress in her own right, but not Sarah Connor and I had very little control over how she performed.
I did step it up right away and say “no, no, no, no, no you can’t just toss her aside! She’d get back up, you can’t just hold Sarah, you know she’d be biting, scratching, elbowing, grabbing his arm.”
I remember telling the stunt man and this woman that you’ve got to fight harder, this is your son that he is shooting to bits and she would grab – oh and it’s not Arnold either – so she would grab Arnold’s body double and she’s grabbing his arm and I’m like “No grab the arm with the gun! Not just any arm the one with the gun!” [laughs a lot]
And you know to try to teach someone right there how to be fierce, how to be Sarah Connor, was an edgy moment and then they put my face, younger face on digitally.
So I had almost nothing to do with that scene, they assembled it… so I had to match her performance vocally because they put my face onto her body, but they had to match her performance with my face and I had to match… Oh my god it was so confusing and not very satisfying! [laughs]
Whether you liked Dark Fate or not, you could take the view that it was one of the greatest ‘what if?’ scenarios for a Terminator movie… they killed John but whether he will stay dead in the future of the franchise is another question all together.
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