So Is ‘Terminator: Genisys’ a Reboot or What?

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We know how Terminator: Genisys fits into the Terminator franchise in our world. It’s the fifth feature, and the first since 2009’s Terminator Salvation. What’s harder to suss out is how the story fits into the Terminator mythology. Is it a reboot? A sequel? Or something else entirely?

The answer, it turns out, might be “all of the above.” Laeta Kalogridis (who wrote the script with Patrick Lussier) confirms Terminator: Genisys isn’t rewriting the Terminator saga, but following an alternate timeline. Hit the jump for more on the Terminator Genisys reboot question, plus lots more Terminator Genisys images.

The new pics come from EW. If you thought those covers were bad, these are… not better.

In the accompanying article, Kalogridis explains: “This is an alternate story, an alternate timeline.” She’s careful to stress that doesn’t mean they’re “revising” what happened in earlier Terminator films, which she points out “will always exist.” Essentially, this sounds like something similar to what J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek was to previous Star Treks.

Terminator: Genisys intersects with the other movies at multiple points, including the moment in the first Terminator when the T-800 lands naked at Griffith Observatory. To re-create the scene, the special effects created a “synthespian” by combining a body double, scans of Arnold Schwarzenegger‘s 36-year-old face, and his current 67-year-old face.

But Genisys will also depart from the Terminator films we know and love in some significant ways. One of those is the backstory of Sarah Connor, now a girl who’s been raised since age 9 by the T-800. “Since she was 9 years old, she has been told everything that was supposed to happen,” said producer David Ellison. “But Sarah fundamentally rejects that destiny. She says, ‘That’s not what I want to do.’ It’s her decision that drives the story in a very different direction.”

Actress Emilia Clarke offered a more lighthearted take on her character. “Oh, she’s just a normal girl growing up in a world for a Terminator for a dad,” she joked. “What was her first date like? Did he kill many of the dates she brought home?” We’d guess he leaves at least one of them standing, since John Connor (Jason Clarke) only exists because Sarah hooked up with Kyle Reese (Jai Courtney).

Genisys also takes a more modern approach to technological anxieties. “Skynet no longer has to break down our front door because we line up in front of Apple stores to invite it in,” said Ellison. “We’re constantly giving away our privacy.”

Oh, and as for how Matt Smith‘s mysterious character fits into all of this, EW reveals he’s “a close ally to John Connor.” Also being kept under very tight wraps is the villain of the piece, described in vague terms as “a man/machine hybrid.” So speculate away about what’s going on there.

Terminator: Genisys opens July 1, 2015.

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