26 October 2019 2834 Views

ALTERNATIVE ARNOLD. ALTERNATIVE TERMINATOR! The Movies that almost were..and Still Could Be?

by James Murphy





Reviewing DARK FATE  is pointless because every critic is saying the same thing (it’s the best since T2; but that’s actually saying..nothing). You will never match the simple body horror chase movie hybrid genius of the first film or the subversive delights and sfx innovation of the second. But once you accept that? You can do just fine. 

So Instead of probing DARK FATE? Let’s look at some SCHWARZENEGGER and TERMINATOR projects that ALMOST happened. 

Arnie had a major piece of heart surgery in 1996/7. It cost him some major roles because even though HE was fine, some studios panicked. Shame, as it was just as his star was at its peak and, as any actor will attest, if you leave the scene at the wrong time or get delayed by fate /luck..you might lose your power altogether. And there was just a run of bad luck, from delayed schedules to budget cuts / political concerns / endless rewrites.

And so it was that we missed out on some awesome Arnie and got fairly B movie stuff from the Austrian Oak. I am talking about End of Days, Sixth Day and Collateral between ’99 and 2003’s Terminator 3, just before he became Gover-nator (underrated: hilarious, brave, fast..I’m talking there about Terminator 3, not the political terms).

What did he miss? What did WE miss! 

Batman and Robin, done ‘right’:

Not Arnold’s fault. And he was booked pre heart op, long before, in fact. But we also know this was rushed into production and it’s not Arnold’s finest hour. But the IDEA was sound. Batman vs Arnold? Take my money, now! But an Arnold of Terminator 1 poise, with just a splash of ice /cold? Perfect! And there was even a rumour he was set to play Bane /Azrael, rather than Mr Freeze (back when Patrick Stewart seemed to be in the frame for that part). It was the formula back then. Pit Batman against THE star brand /actor /ideal ensemble of cool names of that hour, ever since Jack Nicholson’s Joker in the 1989 film.

Had they given the project more time and tone definition, then Arnie could have saved rather than added to the mess that was the 1997 Bat outing. Stallone was genuinely curious at the time and was gutted at not being asked, so rumour had it.  They’d already been swapped a few time, with Sly taking on Judge Dredd in 1995 (a role that was once intended for Arnold?). He denied that and quipped it was a case of ‘Mr Freeze? More like Mr CHEESE!’. He was right. Sly would have made an awesome Ras Al Guhl. Or Grundy? Maybe even Bane. He almost played Batman himself in the fan film DEAD END. You never know..

WINGS AS EAGLES (One of many mooted titles): 

Lord Dickie Attenborough was going to make this one. A tale of a German Air Force Officer who changes sides in WW2. Think Schindler’s List meets Dunkirk? There would have been action but in a worthy context. And whilst Arnold would have still been playing, basically, well, himself..there would have been a natural scope for an Oscar grab here, given the subject matter and the fact that he would have probably been able to play at least some of it in German language? He’d certainly have convinced as a German aristocrat flying ace with little time for nasty nazis. I’d have loved to see this. Such a shame it got lost. Could Arnold rediscover it and PRODUCE? Maybe!

KING CONAN: There is still talk of this; might well happen as part of a Netflix shared universe type deal?


Fears over budget, last minute rewrites, possible offence being taken..so many obstacles just meant this one kept getting delayed until it never happened. But would have been EPIC! Arnold, literally at war, during the crusades!!


They did remake this remake. With Will Smith. But just imagine Arnold in the lead. Almost happened!


I guess there is an Arnold /Charlton Heston axis at work here. Imagine them teaming up to take on the mad monkey baddies. Would have been interesting, certainly!


There was fan / public interest. There was a cast /crew at ready and even a script in some advanced stages. But 9/11 happened, thereby making everyone naturally more cautious in the small window this could have been cool. Plus, Jim Cameron decided to go all serious and epic and worthy after he enjoyed a hit with a small movie called TITANIC . 


MULTIPLE attempts to lure Arnie back to the choppa. All failed. Either due to scheduling conflicts or his simply pointing out that their scripts made no sense to him and failed to do him justice as a character. Quite right, too!

COMMANDO 2: I still hold out some hope on this one. For JENNY AND ME! 🙂


And what of those Lost Terminators?

There are little casting details, of course. OJ Simpson was almost the lead, as was Lance Henriksen. Mel Gibson was considered, too. For part 2, Arnold almost came back as twin Terminators son playing both the goodie and baddie. Billy Idol was used in concept art for the T-1000. Ridley Scott and Ang Lee were offered directorial duties on part 3. Famke Janssen, Gwyneth Paltrow, Rick Yune and Vin Diesel were considered for the TX part. Beyond that? Lots of speculation; some fan-fic (Terminators sent back too far..way before the Connors..wild west /medieval battles ensue?) and some genuine grains of fact/truth to form a tangibly alternative timeline of Terminator movies..


This was, apparently, Jim Cameron’s original pitch. Do it in the future. Makes perfect sense and you can still contrive a way for Arnold to be in there? Plus have ARMIES of T models invade the present AS your way into that future?


Genuinely philosophical premise. What if John Connor, subconsciously, or otherwise, MAKES Judgement Day happen in part because he misses his own mythology? The cycle begins again and so do the philosophical questions. Do we make our own fate? And so on. Skynet was to be the Internet. Sarah (Linda Hamilton) back, too, as a kind of cross between the soft femininity from the first film and the total bad-assery of the second. Arnold was to be a scientist whose facial /body templates are remembered, as alas, are his background as a killer mercenary..so it all fitted together, nicely. Bits of this did make it into Rise of the Machines /Genisys. Just not enough!


Sadly, the intended jump start to a new trilogy..failed to ignite much at all. Not a bad film just not THAT future war we had anticipated. Plus, Christian Bale’s on set rant was far more fascinating than the film itself. But plans did exist for more. A return from Robert Patrick’s model T-1000. A battle in London, featuring all AI gone wild from cash machines to nukes. And then a portal to that future war, which by then would look far more like it had done before.

I’ll be back. Hasta la..(that’s enough Arnie quotes/puns..have an ICE day..). 




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