The ending to Terminator: Salvation has been changed after the previous scripted ending was leaked. It held that John Connor dies, and that ‘good guy’ pseudo-Terminator Marcus Wright takes his place by changing into Connor’s body. A ridiculous idea, and it was changed after a massive outcry among the fanbase. I have a fairly good idea of the new ending.
WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILER AHEAD!
Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines holds promises. In the movie, there are certain things the T-850 Terminator tells John Connor and Kate Brewster, one of them being that he was sent back to protect John — after killing him in the future.
This is key to the story, and also posed a huge problem for director McG and actors Christian Bale and Sam Worthington, who were all three actively involved in the script writing process. The first draft of the script was written by John Brancato and Michael Ferris, the script writers of Terminator 3: RotM.
As has been noted, Jonathan Nolan — brother of famed director Christopher Nolan — was brought in to the production process by Christian Bale. McG was able to persuade Bale to sign up for the movie, but the price isn’t just millions of dollars in salary, but also a lot of influence. Bale is a fan of the Terminator-series, and it is no secret that he, like so many Terminator-fans, was disappointed by Terminator 3: RotM.
But not completely agreeing to the script of a movie that has yet to be made is different from a preceding movie in a series. Core parts of the sequel’s script have to bolt-on to the core parts of the preceding one, otherwise all credibility is lost and Terminator: Salvation would have become just as daft as parts of T3.
One of those bolt-on core elements of the script is the scene in T3:RotM, during which the T-850, John Connor and Kate Brewster are fleeing in a camper, and Conner hears the Terminator out on what happens in the future.
The Terminator tells Connor that he kills Connor in the future, and is then captured by the Resistance, reprogrammed by Kate Connor (nee Brewster), and sent back in time to protect Connor and Brewster by guiding them to a fall-out bunker deep underground to survive the nuclear exchange initiated by Skynet.
The writers, Connor, Worthington, McG and Nolan knew they couldn’t get around that one. So what to do?
Well, one of them drank a crate of bad beer, swallowed some acid, and said: “Why don’t we, um, like, have Connor killed off, so that, um – YEAH! So that Marcus Wright, who’s already a Terminator, mmmkay, takes his, like, place?”
“Wow… Deep, man,” said McG while snorting on some glue. “That’s, like, so…symbolic!”
Fortunately, the soberness of the all-seeing eye of the Terminator fanbase made quick work of that one.
So what happens next? In what way did McG and the others change the script? First off, they realised that perhaps Connor doesn’t have to die straight in the first movie. So perhaps they’ve postponed it, having the T-850 whack Connor in a later instalment — which is not unsurprising and would fit the script. Because, also in T3:RotM, the T-850 informs John and Kate that he is a next-generation T-800, developed with special psychological skills.
Since Terminator: Salvation revolves around two main plot points, one of them being the destruction of the first T-800 prototype production series, it is clear that they’re dealing with the early version of the T-800. The T-850 comes into play later. Or rather, it would have to. It would be a complete breach of continuity to suddenly have Skynet being able to construct a T-850 right off the bat; first much research has to be done, even though Skynet itself is man-made… (Hello, main plot twist number two!)
No. The T-850 will come in later. That, or Brancato, Ferris, Nolan, Bale and the whole lot are nuts. So then what happens? (Spoiler coming up now, folks…)
A compromise. Yes, McG changed the ending, but a lot of footage had already been filmed. Production filming had actually ceased, the raw footage ready, the movie was in essence completed and time was running out for McG to send the movie over to Rising Sun Pictures in Australia to add the last CGI stuff.
So how to end it? Enter trailer number 2. “Oh christ, he’s basing this on a trailer!?” you yelp, while rolling your eyes? Nope. Well, not entirely. The severe damage to Connor’s body is still on, and so is the activation of an endoskeleton. But it is Connor himself whose own skeleton is replaced by that of a machine.
Kate Connor is scared out of her wits when she sees Marcus Wright and Barnes bring her husband back alive from the mission to destroy the T-800 factory. But I don’t think it was because of Connor’s mascara getting wet…
OK, so there you have it; that’s the ‘compromise ending’. Not too bad, considering.
Some other, small fry: in the beginning, Connor isn’t the leader of the Resistance. That’s this general Ashdown, played by Michael Ironside, and he’s fighting Skynet with some pretty orthodox tactics which Skynet knows all too well. Skynet beats the shit out of the Resistance every time.
But Ashdown is a rigid man, and it’s not until he and most of his men perish that Connor manages to rally the troops around him – with the help of Marcus Wright – to once again instill hope into the minds and hearts of the surviving rabble that is the Resistance.
Oh, and one other thing. Please, PLEASE let Skynet be the product of a completely deranged, Luddite Serena Kogen! A twisted human being who honestly felt that humans are sick, that humans formed a virus that was destroying the planet. Please, PLEASE let that be the horrific discovery that Connor and Wright make. Please don’t let it be the work of some group of people (yes, people) who simply wanted to control the world…
No. Kogen must be the mad scientist who dreamt up Skynet, and I don’t care if she somehow got her hands on the Turk self-learning computer from The Sarah Connor Chronicles, or simply pulled the Skynet programme out of her ass one morning after having a beer too many.
One last thing, though. I saw that special effects image too, of Sarah Kogen’s head (played by Helen Bonham Carter) with half the skin torn away, showing a futuristic endosleketon and enveloped human brain. I predict a lot of eyes rolling in the cinemas if Skynet is barely able to produce T-800’s, but was somehow already able to produce a third- or fourth-generation cyborg like the I-950 mentioned in the Sarah Connor Chronicles.
Unless, of course, we are talking about a far-fetched conspiracy, and an army of developed Terminators and cyborgs was already standing ready when John, Kate and the T-850 entered Crystal Peak in T3:RotM…
No. Then it would be better if Serena Kogen the human instructed Skynet to turn her into a cyborg, using designs made by her.