If there is any filmmaker who is more reviled in Hollywood than M. Night Shyamalan and Brett Ratner, it is the music video-turned-movie director McG. He did two somewhat harmless Charlie’s Angels films and a somewhat harmless real-life sports drama We Are Marshall, and then came the point where he gots his hands on the beloved Terminator franchise. Bringing together the stars of both The Dark Knight and the upcoming (at the time) Avatar, McG hoped to reinvigorate the franchise without its (literal) face, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Summer 2009 came, and Terminator Salvation was released. Although the film was a box office hit, the critical and fan reception was as deadly as the T-800 itself; especially with the PG-13 rating. Now on the heels of his latest film, This Means War (which not surprisingly has gotten an even worse reaction), McG has taken this opportunity to confront his critics.
If you haven't seen Terminator Salvation, there are SPOILERS ahead...
In a recent interview, McG revealed that Terminator Salvation originally had an alternate ending where freedom fighter John Connor dying and his skin would be fitted onto a cyborg body allowing him to continue his battles against Skynet. Ultimately McG decided, “[It] would have been puzzling and sucked the air out of the theaters, and it would have been scary to the studios.” The ending that audiences got – where Marcus Wright (Sam Worthington) agrees to have his own heart taken out so that John Connor (Christian Bale) can live – came with bad taste. McG said,
I thought they got away with it at the end of the second Terminator picture, with Schwarzenegger descending into the molten steel, giving the thumbs up to Furlong. And that didn't compromise the integrity of that picture at all. I just think the [original] ending would have been a more bold and interesting in retrospect.... I wanted it to be universally loved. And I think the audience would be really excited if there was a [new] 'Terminator' movie with Christian Bale coming out this summer.
Soon, the topic in the interview went to McG's failed Superman project that he developed with J.J. Abrams called "Superman: Flyby" which would have been an almost complete overhaul to the Man of Steel, including (among other things) a Kryptonian civil war; Lex Luthor as a X-Files-style government agent and Superman revealing his secret identity to the world. McG revealed that he wanted Robert Downey Jr. to play Superman's arch-nemesis Lex Luthor and that he was considering the actor who would later go on to play Kal-El in Zack Snyder's Man of Steel, Henry Cavill. "Ironically, we liked Henry Cavill a lot, but we hadn't cast him yet," McG said. "J.J. wrote the script, and we got that to a really good place in the end. But I’m to blame for [the film not happening]." Flyby would have been the first in a proposed trilogy of films.
I've never seen a director with worse luck than McG, and I personally think he deserves it. He's a smooth talker with studios into getting a project made, but after it's a failure, he's quick to say, "Oh, yeah, it was my fault, but I'll do better next time!" That doesn't change the fact that he made a bad film and it's here to stay until the end of time. Salvation was a complete mess from beginning to end, and Flyby doesn't sound like it would have the typical Superman charm and fun. Only McG would throw out, "We wanted Robert Downey Jr.," to get the fans on his side but at the time Flyby would've been made, Downey was still on the outskirts of Hollywood after his prison time. It took the determination of director Jon Favreau to get him cast in Iron Man, which completely turned his career around and sent it into the stratosphere. There is no way McG could've done that with Flyby (which in my opinion is a dumb title to begin with). Should McG be Terminated as a director or will he wage War on Hollywood?
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