Now that he's fixed California and put all that unpleasantness behind him, Arnold Schwarzenegger is talking movies again. And by the sound of things, it sounds as though his next project will be either Terminator 5 or a sequel toTwins. But why choose one?
Arnie should think big, as is his wont. He should make a sequel to not just one film, but his entire back catalogue. We all know the Austrian bulldozer is versatile enough to make it work. In fact, a single sequel to the entire Arnieouevre isn't just the best option, it's the only option. Here's how it would work.
The key to how this mind-bending, steel-bending, feature can work is in the structure. A standard Hollywood movie has three acts, but a late 1980s or 1990s Schwarzenegger romp has at least seven acts — Arnie crosses over the threshold of adventure. Then he goes back and kicks the threshold a few dozen times, so that it starts leaning to one side, like a drunken boxer. Finally, he returns later on and plants an entire truck full of dynamite under the threshold to adventure, blowing it to tiny twisted chunks, and laughing with all his teeth at any fool who might try to use that threshold for their own adventure in the future.
So here's the 7-act structure of our perfect Arnie sequel...
Act One: A Pregnant Silence.
Arnold Schwarzenegger is sitting at home with his twin brother, Danny DeVito, and they're watching a weightlifting championship on television. Arnie is reminiscing about how he crushed Lou Ferrigno in the Mr. Olympia competition, back when Arnie used psychological warfare and fried chicken to get his way, and his back was full of fingers. Arnie is talking about how he humiliated the future Incredible Hulk in front of his family, until he heard the lamentation of all the Ferrigno women.
And hearing this poignant story of bodybuilding, hubris and posing contests, Danny DeVito unexpectedly begins weeping, as if he, too, were one of the Ferrigno women. "It's just so... sad," DeVito bawls, reaching for a box of tissues and thrusting them all in his face.
"Why are you crying? What is wrong with you?" Arnie demands, but Danny has already run to the kitchen to get a tub of ice cream and a jar of enormous pickles, because he's having these intense cravings, like a ravenous beast. And has been having them for several months now, it turns out.
"Wait a minute," Arnie says. "You mean to say that you are pregnant? How can you be pregnant? What have you done? Is this more of your crazy experiments or something?" Danny DeVito just shrugs and keeps dipping whole pickles into his economy sized container of Rocky Road. The scene ends with Arnie standing over his twin brother, shouting, "Who's the Fadda? WHO'S THE FADDA???"
Arnie is most worried about what his wife, Jamie Lee Curtis, will think about all this. If she thinks he's keeping secrets from her again, he's well and truly screwed. He doesn't want to have to sleep in the Hummer again.
But soon enough, they do a genetic scan of DeVito's baby, and make a shocking discovery: Danny DeVito is pregnant with a clone of Arnie himself!
"Oh no, not again," says Arnie. The last time someone cloned him, the clone thought he was the real Schwarzenegger, and tried to sleep with Jamie Lee Curtis. Hours of explaining. Weeks in the Hummer. This whole situation sends Arnie into a fit of almost uncontrollable weltschmertz, as if his whole universe was unraveling and he was confronting an unfathomable chasm between the world he knew, and the dark twisted mockery beyond. "I'm going to be the uncle of my own clone," he laments. "This is terrible!"
Act Two: Come With Me If You Want Your Cloned Nephew To Live
At first, Arnold thinks that he can deal with this, and life returns to a modicum of normality. Danny DeVito is on the couch a lot, watching Lifetime Channel movies because of all his new hormones and stuff, and they keep having to adjust his pillows for him. But Jamie Lee Curtis is being surprisingly understanding, considering. They go shopping for kevlar diapers. They look through baby name lists for something sufficiently butch.
But one day, when Arnold and Danny are out riding on Arnold's motorcycle, jumping over midsized cars on the highway (which Arnie swears is good for the fetus) something terrible happens. Someone —- or something —- is standing in the middle of the highway, surrounded by flames. And it looks sort of like a beautiful woman, and sort of like a young Robert Patrick, depending on how you squint. The apparition lifts a rocket launcher and aims square at Arnie and Danny.
Just then, someone who looks just like Arnold jumps onto the back of the motorcycle, so that Danny DeVito is sandwiched between two Arnold Schwarzeneggers. "Not another clone!" mutters Arnold, swerving to avoid flaming debris. But no. In fact, this is a robot. Who promises not to try and sleep with Jamie Lee Curtis. Try.
Long story short — it turns out that Arnold's clone inside the womb of his twin brother is actually destined to save the world from evil robots, in the future. (And some of those robots are designed to look exactly like Arnold's clone, which isn't confusing at all.) "I have been reprogrammed to defend your unborn clone from all possible harm," says the cybernetic Arnie, pulling a sawn-off shotgun out of his leather pants and shooting at the 16-wheeler truck the other killer robot has just appropriated.
Act Three: The Buddy Comedy Meltdown
Danny DeVito is being crushed between an Arnold steering the motorcycle in front of him and an Arnold shooting at things behind him, and he has a third Arnold gestating inside him. "Geez. This is like some kind of gonzo metaphor for the soulless claustrophobia of the buddy movie narrative," Danny DeVito thinks to himself as the motorcycle goes off the side of the freeway and onto another freeway, because freeways are always stacked on top of each other like that.
Danny DeVito is pretty sure that there are layers to his metaphorical envelopment in Arnie that he doesn't want to peel away, for fear that what he will find is the extinction of the self. There is not just madness, but a total repudiation of sanity, waiting for him if he considers the fact that Arnie is all around him and inside him. He feels like shouting "At least I'm the meat in the sandwich! Ha ha ha ha!" at the top of his lungs, but he worries that Arnie will take offense at being called bread by implication — Wonder bread, probably — and also he's worried if he opens his mouth, burning debris will fly right in.
"Don't worry," says the front Arnie. "It's just the universe being meta. It happens to me all the time. All of my movies after Last Action Hero contain an element of winking at the camera, and I never stopped breaking the fourth wall. With my fists!"
But still, Danny DeVito is fairly convinced that if he thinks too hard about his situation, his head will explode. The sheer Schwarzenegger overload, the alleged meta-ness, the way he's being subsumed in his twin brother as if Arnie was retroactively absorbing him back into a single zygote when they were in the womb together, the way Arnie is now in his womb... it's just too much to think about. And with that, Danny DeVito's head actually does explode.
Act Four: It's Time for Heroic Measures
"Oh no!" Arnie shouts at the suddenly headless body smushed between him and his robot duplicate on the motorcycle. The T-1000 perched on top of a freeway overpass brandishes its rocket launcher and smiles thinly at a mission accomplished. The decapitated DeVito nearly falls off the motorcycle, but the two Arnies prop him up. "You killed my baby clone!"
"I am crying on the inside," says the flesh-and-blood Arnie, whose face can't quite stretch enough to show grief. "My brother. My nephew. My twin and my clone! I feel terrible."
"We have to save your baby," the other Arnie says. "It's time for. Heroic measures."
Ambulances arrive, not a moment too soon, and what follows is a delivery scene in which we mostly see the faces of the two Arnolds. The Terminator looks grim and steely as he coaxes the baby out of Danny's lifeless torso, while the "real" Arnie looks increasingly freaked out, his eyes and teeth getting bigger and bigger until he looks as though he's being exposed to the Martian atmosphere all over again.
Finally, the clone of Arnie is pulled out, bawling in the midst of the burning freeway. And luckily the Terminator doesn't attempt to slap it on the back or anything.
The two Arnies and their cloned son are rushed to the hospital, where the still-weak cloned baby is placed in an incubator. "We will do everything we can," Jeff Goldblum says. "It's touch and go. There is an experimental procedure that might help. We could stimulate the baby's mental development, if we had a suitable brainwave donor. Someone whose brainwaves are genetically identical." Everybody looks at Arnie, who looks confused and put-upon.
"I'll stand guard," says the Terminator Arnie. "You get in the chair."
Act Five: Inception is for Girly Men
Soon enough, Arnie is strapped into a chair, with a million prongs aimed at his head, so that his brainwaves can be harvested and used to keep his clone baby alive, and thus save the future.
"This is a pretty simple procedure," Goldblum says, "but you may go into a dream world in which you're unable to tell reality from illusion, and your identity may become a pile of shards from a shattered mirror."
"I break the fourth wall with my teeth," Arnie says, then passes out.
Arnold wakes up in the chair, but this time everything is different. He's no longer hooked up to a baby version of himself. Instead, he's sitting in a laboratory surrounded by weird machines. And Jeff Goldblum has a mustache and soul patch all of a sudden.
"Thank goodness," Jeff Goldblum says. "We thought we'd lost you."
Jeff Goldblum explains that everything that's happened to Arnie since about 1982 has been an elaborate dream, which he went into as a way to escape from the stresses of being Mr. Olympia. The movie career, everything. He's been in this chair the whole time. "And now we have to put you into another dream, so you can find out who the mole is in the federal WITSEC program."
But Arnie does not want to be put into a dream inside what he suspects is already a dream — because the moment he awoke in the chair, he realized he was actually his character from Commando, special forces agent John Matrix. He's in the Matrix, and his name is Matrix. He bursts out of the chair, shouting, "You blew my cover — again!" and fights his way through a complex full of scientists and guards with AK-47s, to find an exit that leads to the roof of a research facility/concrete fortress.
Luckily, there's a helicopter on the roof, and Arnie gets to the choppa, taking off just as people start shooting surface-to-air missiles from a launcher disguised as a satellite dish at him.
Act Six: One of Those Terrible David Hume Things
Arnie returns to his home, where he finds he is no longer married to Jamie Lee Curtis at all, and instead his wife is frozen inside a giant cylinder in the living room. And there's a video tape with a sticky attached, saying "WATCH THIS." Arnie watches it, and sees a younger, more mulleted version of himself, wearing a kind of off-the-shoulder toga.
"I am Hercules, the son of Zeus," says the Arnie on the video. "And you are me. You have lost your memories. You don't know who you are any more. You are me. I am you. But you don't remember. I came to New York, even though Zeus told me not to. And now they are coming to take my memories away. You have to get them back."
"But I don't know how," says Arnie.
"Don't ask any questions," says Hercules. "You have to go back to the kindergarten. The kids are waiting for you. Look for the inflatable dinosaur. The inflatable dinosaur has all the answers. Go now, before Mars finds you."
"Mars is looking for me?" says Arnie.
"The God of War," Hercules intones. "Get your ass away from Mars." Then the video ends. Arnie stares at the blank screen in bewilderment. He still doesn't know who the father of his clone baby is. Not to mention whether he's John Matrix or Hercules, or whether he's in a dream or just woken up from one. He is trapped in a David Hume-style nightmare in which his sense impressions are all he can glean a priori, and an unendurable solipsism is bound to result. Either that, or blowing up everything in sight.
Arnie steals a Jeep and hauls ass to the kindergarten where he once posed as a substitute teacher, so he can find the inflatable dinosaur. But halfway there, he's ambushed by Russian gangsters. With special explosive-tipped lasers — laser beams that explode on impact. His Jeep is trashed, and he finds himself being herded into a maze of death.
Act Seven: Running Man, Angry Predator
This is the climactic act, sort of. Arnie is chased through a maze of barbed wire and deathtraps and explosives by a series of maniacs armed with chainsaws and miniature shoulder-launched space shuttles. He is forced to wear a yellow unitard. He slices people with names like Killmonster and Negative Space in half, and finally uses one of the space-shuttle launchers to blow a hole in the wall, so he can escape.
Arnie has to come up with clever quips about everybody he kills. It's exhausting. "Negative Space? Now just a big nothing!" He shouts at one point, which is not his best quip at all.
And worst of all, something more deadly than Killmonster is stalking Arnie through the rubble of the maze. Something that's invisible to the naked eye, but which can track Arnie by his body. Some kind of Rastafarian barbarian nightmare with a laser sight and a terrible crab face. Does it bleed? Can he kill it?
Arnie gives it his best shot, throwing miniature space shuttles and exploding lasers and dozens of chainsaws at the Predator. All to no avail — until suddenly the Terminator bursts through one of the main remaining walls and tears the Predator apart with its bare hands.
"You're still dreaming," says the Terminator. "Come with me if you want to wake up."
The Terminator leads Arnie through a rapidly decomposing dreamscape, in which they're being chased by Mars, the God of War. And at last, they find the exit, and awaken... to find that Mars is there in the real world, too.
"What does it mean?" Arnold thinks aloud. Mars is standing over his dream chair, wearing his full shiny Greco-Roman armor and staring at the tiny clone baby of Arnold.
And then he realizes — Mars isn't Mars. He's actually Thulsa Doom, back from the dead. Yes, James Earl Jones is wearing Greco-Roman armor and grasping for Arnold's cloned baby. "My child," Thulsa Doom is saying to the baby. "Come to me. For who is your father now, if not me? Purging is at hand."
In the denouement, Arnold manages to snatch the baby away, and runs through a nightmare cityscape with a baby version of himself slung across his chest, while he's being chased by Thulsa Doom and evil robots from the future. He winds up in a church — where he finally realizes the truth. The baby is not actually his clone, but rather the Son of Satan, as was prophesized all the way back in his classic film End of Days.
"No," Arnie falls to his knees. "Now I know who the fadda is, and I wish I didn't!"
"Yes," says Thulsa Doom, snatching Satan's baby away from Arnold. "A purging is at hand. You really shouldn't have killed my snake." Arnie watches in despair as Thulsa Doom takes the baby away to be raised as Satan's minion on Earth and bring about the Robot Apocalypse.