“Dr. Horrible” writer Zack Whedon will be tackling considerably darker fare in his upcoming “Terminator” miniseries from Dark Horse. The writer, who is the younger brother of “Dollhouse” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon, is no stranger to science fiction, having written several episodes of the television series “Fringe.” Whedon’s three-issue “Terminator” miniseries begins in March, shining the spotlight on Kyle Reese, the man destined to sire the savior of humankind. Earlier today, CBR News brought you an interview with artist Andy MacDonald, and we continue our “Terminator” coverage with a discussion with Zack Whedon.
Setting up the events of this miniseries, Whedon told CBR, “Kyle is in his mid-twenties, the same age he is in the first ‘Terminator’ film. These are the final weeks before he makes the jump to 1984 to protect Sarah Connor.” The comic will flesh out Kyle Reese’s life before time travel by showing some of his comrades-in-arms in the fight against the machines. “He is backed up by his two closest friends, Ben and Paige. They all are living in a survivor colony in Pasadena at the start of the series. This is a place where they have gotten settled in, a place that feels like home to all of them. Kyle’s mission is to protect the people living in this colony. The mission for all of them is survival.”
As for Reese’s son, the legendary John Connor, Whedon told CBR that the character would appear, but would not be a focus of the series. “We will see John Connor, but his role, though important obviously, is small in these comics. As everyone knows, he is the one that ultimately sends Kyle back [in time], so we’ll see how that point is reached,” Whedon said. “One of my major goals in this series was to create new characters in this world for people to get attached to. There has been a considerable amount of storytelling done with John in particular, so I wanted to get away from that a little bit.”
Given that comics can do big special effects a bit cheaper than movies, Dark Horse’s “Terminator” miniseries will include some blockbuster-style action without racking up an “Avatar”-sized budget. “There are some pretty large scale battles that would be costly to film,” Whedon told CBR. “Kyle jumps a motorcycle over an HK-Tank at one point, which is pretty awesome. And all without a frame of CG.”
Though Whedon does not remember the first time he saw the original “Terminator” film (“but I’m sure it was on video”), he does know that he became an enthusiastic fan with the release of the sequel. “I vividly remember seeing ‘T2.’ I went to see it twice in one day, or two days in a row at least. I was blown away by it,” he said. “I called my brother and we talked for a long time about all the things we loved about the movie. Both of those hold up incredibly well. I’m fond of the whole series, and I loved the TV show, too. I did the all of the ‘Sarah Connor Chronicles’ on DVD and disappeared for a week or two. I thought they did an amazing job with that show of finding stories to tell about Sarah and John that felt fresh and exciting. I’m also a big fan of Garret Dillahunt, who made an awesome Terminator.”
While many works of fiction dealing with a seemingly far-off future eventually butt up awkwardly against reality as time passes, the original “Terminator” film has held up well in the 25 years since its creation. “One of James Cameron’s gifts is that he is a brilliant student of the future, about what is just around the bend, technologically speaking,” Whedon said. “That is one of the many reasons that the first ‘Terminator’ film holds up so well. All of Kyle’s dialogue about the future is still sound, tech-wise. None of it sounds hokey or dated or fake. His understanding of where we were going with computers and the internet really makes that vision of the future resilient.
“I don’t think we will some day go to war with machines, but we are much closer to the technology that he imagined in that first movie. The robots we’re building are starting to look and do things like the Terminators do. We are fighting our wars with unmanned predator drones. Artificial Intelligence is advancing rapidly… Actually, now that I think about it, we are going to go to war with machines, and I don’t like our chances.”
Compared to his work on television series such as “Fringe” and “Deadwood,” Whedon said that he enjoys the additional control a writer has over his story in the comic book medium. “I have been left to my own devices to a certain extent on ‘Terminator,’ but I do run everything by Dark Horse. Luckily, we’ve seen eye to eye on this story,” Whedon said. “It feels very good to write something and see it produced so quickly. Andy MacDonald is doing an incredible job. The pages come back looking better than I could have hoped. This is a different experience than writing for television for me, due in some part to the fact that I’ve never been the boss in my TV work. Usually what I write goes through a lot of filters before it hits the screen months later, and some of the time what ends up being seen has little to do with what I imagined initially. Here, the turnaround is much quicker and I feel much more connection to the finished product.
“Writing a comic script is quite different in that you must always be thinking in visual terms, figuring out what the five or six images are that can capture a given moment,” Whedon added. “You also have to be very careful with comic scripts. Once they are drawn, you can’t go back and change much, so you have to get it set in stone before you share it with anyone. It’s tough, but I think I’m getting the hang of it.”
Beyond the three-issue “Terminator” comic, Whedon has a few other projects of note coming up. “I am a busy man these days. Right now, I’m working on a new show for AMC called ‘Rubicon.’ It will air this summer, and I think it’s going to be great. I’m really happy to be working on a show as good as this one,” Whedon said. “I’m doing some other things for Dark Horse, but I’m probably not allowed to talk about them.
“I also see my family every now and then, and when I do, the talk often turns to ‘Doctor Horrible 2: Carnal Indulgences.’ That’s all for now!”