Linda Hamilton will forever be known to fans as Sarah Connor. Her appearance in The Terminator and Terminator 2: Judgment Day solidified her as one of sci-fi’s greatest female characters. Now, it looks like Hamilton will be reprising the role of Sarah Connor in the next Terminator film. That’s cause for excitement when it comes to seeing an excellent actress on the big screen. But, there is a nagging uncertainty about this news.
Namely, do we want to see Sarah Connor again?
I’ve talked a lot about franchises playing it safe before, and this casting announcement sounds like another ploy to keep things familiar. Fans like seeing their favorite actors and characters return to roles. That’s totally understandable. But, it also limits the range of stories that can be told.
Every Terminator film has been focused on the Connors. Whether it’s Sarah or John, they are always a driving force of the narrative. At some point, these characters begin to either wear thin, get rebooted (Sarah was established as deceased in Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines), or are mishandled in a way that upsets fans. Just look at the backlash Terminator Genisys retrieved for dropping the ball with Sarah, John, and even Kyle Reese.
There are countless stories you could tell in the Terminator universe. By keeping Sarah Connor around, that narrows things down and also runs the risk of doing something that will tarnish the character’s story.
With Linda Hamilton returning, the sequel is going to invite a ton of comparisons to the first two films. And while I will go to bat for some elements in Rise of the Machines and Terminator: Salvation, it’s fair to say that the first two films are the only ones that regarded as classics.
This will cause people to put this new film against a higher set of standards. Frankly, that’s not fair to Terminator 6. And though Hamilton is an accomplished actress, it’s going to be hard for her to live up to the idealized role she crafted in the original film and its sequel.
This all sounds like I’m not excited to see Linda Hamilton back as Sarah Connor. It’s not that. I’m just tired of seeing Sarah Connor and John Connor be the focus of the franchise. They even got their own TV show!
However, this idea of bringing back Hamilton as Sarah does make me wonder: could this be a sendoff for her character? Hamilton reportedly turned down a role in the third film, explaining “[Sarah] was a negligible character. She died halfway through and there was no time to mourn her. It was kind of disposable.” Cameron has said that this new film will feature a lot of new characters and that Hamilton and Arnold Schwarzenegger — of course Arnie is coming back — will anchor this new cast.
If this is an attempt to pass the torch, then I’m in. If this new film can entice Hamilton back, then that gives me hope for the eventual story. And if it can give Sarah Connor a fitting farewell, then bring it on.