One of the things we’ve always wanted from a Terminator movie is a longer, more insane look at the future war between humans and Skynet. And now, it looks like it’s on. Check out some exclusive concept art of the weapons of the future war for survival — including the Violet Cleaver and the Reaper.

This artwork comes from the book Terminator Genisys: Resetting the Future by David S. Cohen, with a foreword by Arnold Schwarzenegger. This book, which doesn’t even come out until June 30 because it contains major spoilers, “follows the creative journey of the filmmakers behind this game-changing new adventure as they set out to turn the Terminator universe upside down while paying affectionate homage to James Cameron’s original films.”

Check out an exclusive excerpt from the book below, explaining how the Future War of 2029 plays out.


The 2029 Future War sequence that opens Terminator Genisys gets a distinctly different look from 1984. Cinematographer Kramer Morgenthau would shoot it in a desaturated cyan tone, and much of the vast battlefield and the machines that patrol it would have to be added with visual effects. Since the specifics of the action sequences weren’t yet planned, the Future War sets would have to be flexible, capable of being reconfigured, and used in multiple ways. “It was about creating a playground for stunts, for second unit, for first unit, for visual effects to be able to work with,” says production designer Neil Spisak.


Creating a post-apocalyptic look that hadn’t been seen before was a challenge for all concerned. “There’s a lot of competition in that world in terms of past movies,” says Spisak. In Terminator Genisys’s Future War, the shiny, metallic hardness of the machines contrasts with the patched-together look of the human militia. The post–Judgment Day future has always looked rough in the Terminator franchise, but the Terminator Genisys designers added a more specific sense of place. Resistance fighters and captives alike have been scavenging the ruins of Los Angeles, so their costumes contain items from L.A.’s many ethnic enclaves and include such ubiquitous SoCal items as Lakers and Dodgers t-shirts.

The resistance has repurposed corporate vehicles into war machines, made shoulder pads out of old tires, and fashioned body armor out of anything from paintball gear to license plates and street signs. “Quite a few pieces we added to the armor were actually made from cutting up rugged rubber car mats,” says costume designer Susan Matheson. The elite fighters, like John Connor and Kyle Reese, get the best gear the humans can muster, while the rest make do with what they can.


Creating that post-apocalyptic look was a particular thrill for science fiction buff Matheson. She’d studied sculpture in Japan, and that proved useful for crafting found objects into costumes. Her own team of thirty built costumes for 300 principals and extras for the Future War alone. Then those costumes went into small cement mixers to be tumbled with pumice stones. In went car-mat armor, motocross and paintball pads, kneepads, and clothing. Says Matheson: “These cement mixers were going all day, every day for months.”

There was also a team of “ager-dyers,” headed by Gildardo Tobon, a veteran of the aging work that went into the costumes on the first two Pirates of the Caribbean films. “He has an incredible sensibility for making things feel old and used and thrashed, but real,” says Matheson. The agerdyers glued sand to clothes, over-dyed them, and sprayed Since there are real rifles inside the shell, those guns could be fired on camera. That made for real muzzle flashes and gave the actors and stunt men an authentic recoil. Real firearms get hot, though, so there had to be three versions of each “plasma rifle” shell: guns that were set for automatic firing (and so would get very hot) got an all-metal casing; guns that were set for semi-automatic (and so did not get as hot) got a part-metal, part-rubber casing; and for guns that would be in on-screen explosions or used in stunts, there was an all-rubber, non-firing version.

Of course there are plenty of plasma weapons in the hands of the machines, too, especially the gleaming T-800 endoskeletons that guard the work camp and battle the resistance. “They have the big plasma canons that I had to create as well,” says

Burton. “It was a completely one-off design. Those were completely metal, and I put lights and stuff in them.” Once the weapons designs were approved, it took six weeks for them to be fabricated by a model shop.

“It was really important to us to have the plasma rifles be realistic,” explains Ellison. “The traditional way is to make a plastic gun and fake the recoil. We thought that was going to look phony. So we modified actual working guns. We wanted to make it feel as real and authentic as possible.”

And here are some page spreads from the book, which aren’t exclusive to io9. Click to enlarge:

Terminator Genisys: Resetting the Future comes out on June 1 from Insight Editions.