Ten Starbucks Customers Who Desperately Need to Hear My Idea for Rebooting the Terminator Franchise

by Tom Batten & Nate Waggoner

  1. A College Student With His Head Buried In Books

Look at this young fellow, immersing himself in what looks like–what, Econ? Gender Studies?  Working towards a better future, no doubt, so just wait until he hears that my vision for the Terminator will be the most “woke” and “lit” take on the material yet! See, this isn’t just some dumb action movie. It’ll be more like the Christopher Nolan Batman films, subtly exploring the characters’ psyches and asking big, important questions that the typical popcorn blockbuster wouldn’t have the guts to tackle, like, “Has technology gone too far?”

  1. A Young Mother Overwhelmed By Screaming Twin Toddlers

Having one fussy baby seems bad enough, but two? And these kids show no sign of calming down! Mommy looks like she’s at her wits’ end, but I have a feeling that hearing about the scene in my script in which the sight of a woman nursing her newborn on the subway inspires the Terminator to deliver a monologue about how maybe if he’d had a loving mother instead of having been built in a factory, he’d spend more of his time loving others instead of decapitating them will remind this lucky lady that motherhood is a gift and an honor, even if I have to scream over her kids to make myself heard.

  1. Member of a Christian Youth Group

Not that I’m eavesdropping, but I couldn’t help but overhear this poor boy describing how he’s torn between the Bible’s rules and his own perfectly natural hormonal urges.

It’s practically a miracle that I’m here to share the good news: there’s an all-new gospel being written right at this moment that will be perfectly in tune with the times, featuring a savior (in the form of John Connor) who doesn’t care what you do with your body, so long as you practice sharpshooting and unarmed combat for eight hours a day in preparation for doing battle with genocidal cyborgs.

  1. Zack, from High School

Now if there’s a guy who loves action and excitement, it’s Zack. I should know– he used to slam me into a locker every morning! He loves leather jackets, motorcycles, guns, and violence, and maybe a guy like that could see my sensitive portrayal of the Terminator as an outsider, a mechanical warrior-poet struggling to right a world he sees as overtaken by thoughtless brutes, and think again before he wedgies someone. Or whatever the equivalent of that is in his current line of work, which I believe is real estate.

Update: it’s still wedgies, and he remains a master of the form.

5 & 6. A Couple Reviewing a Mortgage Application

Investing in a home in this market is a big risk. Maybe hearing about how I took a pretty big risk of my own by moving into my stepmother’s basement and forgoing financial success and romantic attachments over the last seven years in order to finish this script will inspire these two, especially since the finished product is a total masterpiece. They’ll take the plunge, start a family, and one day their son or daughter will see my film and wish that their father was a total visionary like me, but I won’t mention that now—I’ll just tell them about the part where the Terminator fights a sentient lawnmower in the parking lot of a Rite Aid.

  1. Woman in Yoga Pants Writing in her Journal

What a surprise. Another one of the “beautiful people” who probably thinks she’s too good for the likes of me. Still, this is for her benefit! She’s going to need to know about my plans to make Sarah Connor an even more badass feminist hero than the original by giving her a short, spiky haircut. I have to make sure this woman doesn’t think I’m hitting on her, but if she ends up falling in love with me when she reads my outline, so be it.

I have to admit I’m taken aback by her response, which is even more positive than I expected: “You’re a writer? That’s so cool, me too!” I tell her about my pedigree, two creative writing classes at ITT Tech and over fifteen years of fan fiction LiveJournaling, and she smiles, fixes her eyes on me, and says, “What else are you good at?” I tell her I’m also good at imagining the post-credits sequence, in which T-1000 makes his first appearance, ideally played by a jocular Chris Pine type to play against the audience’s expectations, and she sighs and goes back to her journaling. If only people in real life acted with relatable, earned motivations like in screenplays.

  1. This Old Retired Naval Officer  

This old creep is probably sitting out on the patio wondering why his kids don’t call more often, not once considering that it might be because they never felt like he believed in them or their dreams and can’t have a single conversation with his son without badgering him about “getting a real job.” Maybe if he’d listen for two minutes he’d learn that writing is a real job, and that my script highlights themes like honor and camaraderie and how computers are scary, all done with practical effects just like the ones in the movies he and his son watched together years ago, in better days. If only he’d listen. Maybe he will. Only one way to find out.

9 & 10. Officers Braaten and Tucker

Great news: the Starbucks manager called over two guys who love efficiency and justice, presumably to hear me read my script in its entirety and not to arrest me for biting that rude old man on the patio. They’re taking me down to the station and I can’t wait for them to hear my reasoning behind maintaining the original Cameron movies’ timeline. Will this creative choice be a controversial move on my part? Of course. But you can’t please everyone.

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