Warning: This post contains spoilers for “Terminator Genisys.”
John Connor (Jason Clarke) is and has always been the main hero of the “Terminator” franchise.
He’s considered humanity’s last hope to save mankind in a seemingly endless war with machines. His success in eventually stopping the machines is the reason both Arnold Schwarzenegger’s villainous Terminator and Kyle Reese get sent back to the ’80s in the first film.
So it’s a huge surprise when you realise “Terminator Genisys” turns Connor into the villain, and not just any villain, but a new model of the Terminator called the T-3000.
It’s an extremely bold move for a franchise that is now five films in, one that has only ever referred to Connor’s character as the hero we both need and deserve. It’s also one of the most refreshingly original moments in a movie that relies a bit too heavily on callbacks.
So it’s a shame this huge twist isn’t as shocking as it deserves to be.
Paramount spoiled the biggest reveal of the film months ago in multiple trailers and TV spots.
It all started in April, when the second official theatrical trailer unapologetically revealed Connor had been turned.
When Connor (Jason Clarke) first pops up in the trailer, there’s no reason to believe he’s anyone other than the heroic character he’s always been depicted as; however, seemingly out of nowhere, an aged Schwarzenegger’s character shoots him. What?!
But then it gets crazier. Connor heals from his wounds just like a Terminator.
Wait. Connor is a Terminator???
While you were still trying to process that small bit, the same trailer nonchalantly ended with Connor going through a complete transformation as the new Terminator, called the T-3000.
Numerous trailers continued showing the reveal. One spot was even dedicated to it.
It seems surprising, when perhaps the film could have focused the trailer more on T-1000 (Byung-hun Lee) who is another adversary early on in the film. That way, viewers could have gotten a taste of the conflict and still left the theatre somewhat surprised.
Even “Genisys” director Alan Taylor was unhappy with all the spoilers that got out.
“I know there was kind of a challenging calculus going on in the heads of those who market this thing to decide that this was the right thing to do. I think they felt like they had to send a strong message to a very wary audience that there was something new, that this was going to new territory. They were concerned that people were misperceiving this as kind of a reboot, and none of us wanted to reboot two perfect movies by James Cameron. I think they felt they had to do something game-changing in how the film was being perceived.” Taylor told Uproxx.
While Taylor was consulted about the trailer before it went out, that doesn’t mean he was happy with it.
“I had a few heads ups and a few unpleasant conversations where I squawked about this or that,” he added.
What makes this all the more bizarre is that while Paramount essentially showed every major scene of its saviour-turned-villain, the studio was extremely protective of guarding any and all details regarding the identity of Matt Smith’s (“Doctor Who”) character in “Genisys.”
My colleague, Kirsten, had to sign an NDA promising she wouldn’t reveal anything about Smith’s character ahead of the film release in order to receive a making-of book on the film.
There are no still images of Smith in the film online. The only place you could see his character was on the Nov. 2014 cover of Entertainment Weekly.
When you do learn his role, while it certainly takes you aback, it’s not anywhere near the shock you experience as when you see that humanity’s last hope is now playing for the other team.
Spoiler: Smith plays the embodiment of Skynet — the artificial intelligence system bent on destroying mankind.
Once this secret is finally revealed early on, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal. Smith doesn’t even play that huge of a role in the film. He appears very briefly in the start of “Genisys” and once again at the film’s end.
However, Smith will likely be back and play a big role in the inevitable sequels. This is likely why he was so important, but not worth keeping that big of a secret.
For what it’s worth, this isn’t the first time that marketing has spoiled a “Terminator” movie.
The original trailer for “Terminator 2: Judgment Day” from back in 1991 gives away one of the film’s most thrilling moments in which we find out Schwarzenegger’s T-800 has gone from villain to hero.
In case the clip doesn’t make it entirely clear, the trailer’s voice-over gives it all away:
“Once he was programmed to destroy the future. Now, his mission is to protect it,” the trailer clearly states.
While trailers are notorious for giving away major plot points of movies, Paramount probably should have considered keeping Connor’s T-3000 under wraps a bit more.
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