This blog is essentially a collection of posts I used to write on Facebook combined with my travel blog and expanded to make a very public forum of my thoughts regarding Pop Culture, The Interweb, Cartoons, Comics, Ultimate Frisbee, Absurdity, Life, Travel and whatever else captures my attention long enough to write about it...

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17 August 2011

Terminator vs the Matrix

So having recently watched the Matrix trilogy back to back and then Terminator salvation it occurred to me just how similar they are in storyline... indeed they could almost be the same

I'm going to assume everyone has seen all these movies (if not this will make very little sense) but here's a brief rundown of the pertinent facts (adapted from wikipedia).

Terminator Movies
The central theme of the franchise is the battle for survival between humans and a self aware AI (Skynet). Skynet is positioned in the first film as a US defence computer system by Cyberdyne Systems which becomes self-aware and, on perceiving all humans as a threat, seeks to wipe out humanity itself. It initiates a nuclear strike against Russia (the first movie came out in '84 so the Russians were still a legit movie plot threat), ensuring a devastating counter strike and nuclear holocaust, wiping out much of humanity instantly.

In the aftermath, Skynet builds up its own machine based military capability, which includes the (movie namesake) Terminators used against individual human targets, and proceeds to fight a war against the surviving elements of humanity, some of whom have organised militarily into the Resistance. Then to complicate things even more at some stage in the future, Skynet develops the ability to time travel, and both it and the Resistance seek to use it to win the war by preventing or forestalling their present timeline.

'Judgment Day' is referred to as the date on which Skynet becomes self-aware and decides to exterminate. Due to the element of time travel and the consequent ability to change the future, several dates are given for Judgment Day during the movies. Terminator 2 (made 1991) gives the date as 29/8/97 (the future... woooo spooky). However, in Terminator 3 (made 2003) shows that the Judgment Day holocaust had been postponed to 25/7/04. In the TV show this was later delayed to 21/4/11 (so we missed THAT one too) due to the attack on Cyberdyne Systems in T2.
Complicated much? But the basic principle is pretty simple... Skynet is a computer system with AI, Skynet becomes self aware (alive), Skynet is bad and attacks people and people fight back. Skynet makes robots to kill people.
The tricky stuff is where the time travel comes into it... There are huge interweb debates/discussion about the paradoxes and various issues with the terminator timeline... but here is a reasonably succinct version. I do have a chuckle about when John Connor meets/sends Kyle Rheese back in time with instructions to protect his mum... "You need to go back and protect my Mum... by the way take these flowers... Dad" AWKWARD!

The Matrix Movies
Trilogy of movies between 99 and 03 (so entirely completed between T2 and T3). The series shows Earth dominated by sentient machines (AI), who have turned on humans and forced them into slavery. At one point, humans believed they could wipe out the machines by "scorching the sky," as they thought solar energy to be the only life source of the machines. However, the machines devised a way to extract the bioelectric and thermal from the human body (which is really not practical from a scientific point of view... but whatever I didn't poke holes in Terminator's science) by growing humans in pods connected by cybernetic implants to an artificial reality called the Matrix, which keeps their minds under control.
The virtual reality world simulated by the Matrix resembles human civilization around turn of the 21st century, chosen because it is supposedly the pinnacle of human civilization (and when humans "gave birth" to AI... can someone say Skynet?). The majority of humans connected to the Matrix are unaware of its true nature. Most of the central characters in the series know that it is not 'real' and as a result can partially bend the simulation's physical laws in order to perform superhuman feats within the simulation.

As Morpheus says in the movie "A singular entity that spawned an entire race of machines" (sounding like skynet yet? There is no mention in the movies of how the war started (in fact they try to emphasis the fact that the humans don't know who struck first) but I'm sure this is explained in all the extra stuff that has no doubt developed (but I haven't looked at). What is mentioned though that the machines are up to their 7th version of the matrix, inferring that this is 700 or so years AFTER the humans blotted out the sky during the war... Putting the year around the 28th Century (not 2199 as Morpheus believes).

My personal grudge with the matrix is a bit disconnected from this and centers mainly around the 3rd film ruining everything. First matrix pretty good, original and kinda kickass... Second matrix was less original but had more kick assyness (the fight scene in the weapon room at the Merovinigian's house is still a favourite). The third just kinda sucked... the whole Neo is just some combination of Jesus and a Cyberpunk Ninja who can control machines with his mind doesn't sit well with me. I would've much preferred if he was just an average man outside the matrix and part of the adventure was getting him into the matrix and keeping him safe while his does his thing in there... Basically I would've preferred that if instead of at the end of the 2nd film when Neo shuts down the sentinels it wasn't because he was Jesus... rather because the "real world" was simply another matrix designed to trap/control the rebellious ones (woooo layers upon layer upon layers Inception style). Then the third movie could've been them breaking out rather than some bibilical sacrificial showdown type thing... Oh well...

Anyway... back to this post
Terminator vs/is the Matrix
If you look carefully, nothing here outwardly contradicts anything else. The Terminator world (which is generally set in the next few decades... hundred years tops) simply evolves into the matrix in the missing 700 years or so between the films timelines (hopefully Skynet learns its lesson about time travel when John Connor became his own grandpa).
So your timeline would go
  • "Mankind marvels at the birth of AI" in the 21st century (Matrix)
    • Just not calling the AI Skynet. The date is undefined because of all the timeline screwing around and shifting in Terminator about the exact date Skynet becomes self aware and judgement day in the Terminator movies. (Matrix and Terminator)
  • Nukes fly, general unhappiness (Terminator) (so machines shot first... just like Han... but that's another rant)
  • Terminators built, war starts, terminator designs start to get more and more complicated and killy (Terminator)
    • Eventually evolving over 700+ years from the humanoid shape of Terminator to the Squid style shape from the Matrix (how is that aerodynamic?) (Matrix)
  • Events of the Terminator series, humans always seem to win however they can never seem to stop Skynet (Terminator)
  • War with Machines (Matrix) and humans nuke out the sky to stop the solar power (Matrix). 
    • Clearly after the events of the Terminator movies the machines switched to solar power, I guess Peak Oil is an issue to be considered even in Sci Fi movies... No more coal fired Terminators (FYI Arnie is TOTALLY a coal fired robot)
  • Matrix is built and rebuilt and rebuilt for the robots to be able to power themselves (Matrix)
    • 700 years of intermittent resistance coupled with an 1 in every 100 year ass kicking of Zion by the machines
  •  Events of the Matrix Movies
The end... Boom

There you go, totally the same movies with even less stretching required than for Aliens vs Predators (which by the way is bullshit... aliens is in the future and Predators are drawn by heat and conflict... why the fuck are they fighting in Antartica... FUCK THAT SHIT)

Love, Hugs and Kisses


  1. Skynet became awear on August 29 1997 at 2:14am US Eastern daylight time - According to (ask it "are you skynet?")

  2. Yeah according to wikipedia the date skynet became self aware changes based on stuff that happens...
    that's the date from T2