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John Connor is one of the most integral characters of the Terminator franchise. He didn’t show up in the first movie, but it’s thanks to him that Kyle Reese was sent back in time to protect his mother from a ruthless T-800 and guarantee he would be born. John has appeared in every Terminator movie afterwards, and Terminator: Dark Fate won’t be any exception.
We have yet to see John Connor in any of the Terminator: Dark Fate pictures and footage released, but producer and Terminator franchise mastermind James Cameron assured fans last month that the next installment will continue John’s story. That may be, but given the secrecy surrounding John’s role, as well as the fact that Dark Fate is serving as a sequel only to the first two Terminator movies (Rise of the Machines, Salvation and Genisys take place in alternate timelines), I can’t help wondering if in this continuity, John is dead, possibly for a long time.
The official plot synopsis for Terminator: Dark Fate says it takes place 27 years after Terminator 2: Judgement Day. That movie was set in 1995, so that places Dark Fate in 2022. Terminator Salvation took place in 2018, so you’d think when the Dark Fate casting reports started coming out, we would have heard about an actor around Christian Bale’s age when he appeared in Salvation being tapped for the role of adult John. That never happened.
Instead, all that’s been revealed about John Connor in Terminator: Dark Fate is that Jude Collie will serve as a stand-in for a young John Connor, and CGI will be used to apply Edward Furlong’s likeness from Terminator 2: Judgement Day to Collie’s face. So at some point during Dark Fate, we’ll flash back to either the events of Terminator 2 or what happened shortly after Sarah and John defeated Robert Patrick’s T-1000 with the first benevolent T-800.
While there is a possibility that John Connor could be keeping a low profile during Terminator: Dark Fate (never make it easy for one of Skynet’s assassins to find you), all of the presented information, as well as the fact that Gabriel Luna’s Rev-9 Terminator is after Natalia Reyes’ Dani in the movie, leads me to believe that John died after Terminator 2, either at the hands of a Terminator or through a different set of circumstances.
Terminator 2 ended on a more positive note than its predecessor, with Sarah Connor noting that she can finally face the future with hope after seeing that a machine could learn the value of life. If the Terminator saga was simply a duology, then we can imagine that Skynet would never come to power. But, just like what happened in Rise of the Machines, the threat of Skynet was wasn’t eliminated, but simply delayed in Dark Fate’s continuity.
Clearly Skynet hasn’t taken over the world in Terminator: Dark Fate yet, but that doesn’t mean that there haven’t been any Terminator incidents in the 27 years between Terminator 2 and Dark Fate. And it’s possible that the timeline has reached a point where John Connor doesn’t need to be alive for the Resistance to successfully wage war against Skynet in the future.
If that’s the case, then killing John Connor as a child is definitely a possibility. Needless to say his death would be incredibly painful for Sarah, but because she knows that the threat of the Terminators hasn’t been wiped out (knowledge she presumably confirmed from this new, aged T-800 we’re meeting in Dark Fate), she would keep fighting on to ensure her son’s demise wasn’t in vain, hence why she arrives to rescue Dani and Grace from the Rev-9.
Taking John Connor off the proverbial playing board would also line up with what James Cameron has said about Terminator: Dark Fate being used to “pass the baton to a new generation of characters.” This year marks the 35th anniversary of The Terminator’s release, and assuming Dark Fate is successful, then you can bet Paramount is going to put a sequel or two into development.
While it’s great to see Linda Hamilton alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger again in a Terminator movie, the fact of the matter is if Paramount want this franchise to go on, it’s time for a change. Just like how the Star Trek TV shows tarted following new characters and upcoming Star Wars movies will deliver tales unconnected to the Skywalker Saga, new blood is needed for the Terminator franchise.
Terminator: Dark Fate seems to be taking the first steps on this path by having the Rev-9 hunt down Dani Ramos. As far as we know, she doesn’t have any connection to John Connor, and if John is already dead, then that’s a moot point. It shows that in the timeline Dark Fate is operating in, John isn’t the integral piece for the Resistance to stand a chance of defeating Skynet. Dani and perhaps others (like her unborn child) fill that void.
This approach may not appeal to some Terminator fans, but let’s be honest, the John Connor well has almost run dry. Genisys tried to spice things up by making him a villain, but considering how that movie was critically received, it didn’t work out. It might be time to leave him behind, something that Dark Fate seems to be setting up.
We’ll have to wait and see how Terminator: Dark Fate compares to the previous three Terminator sequels, but if the movie does reveal that John Connor died long ago in this continuity, that’s a bold move. It signifies this franchise is ready to embark in a new direction, and that the survival of humanity is not contingent on one man. On the other hand, if John does end up being alive, fingers crossed that he ends up helping out Dani, Grace and the other main protagonists in any sequels that might follow.
Terminator: Dark Fate opens in theaters on November 1, so stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. In the meantime, you can find out what else is coming out later this year in our 2019 release schedule, and feel free to share your Dark Fate speculation and theories in the comments below.
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