The Grease 2 – Terminator 2 Connection

What if I were to tell you that the much-maligned sequel to GreaseGrease 2, partially inspired the sci-fi classic Terminator 2? More specifically, that the character of the Cool Rider/Michael Carrington is the inspiration for the T-1000 in his motorcycle cop stage?

As evidence, I’d point to the eery similarities in the characters’ distinctive headgear and reflective eyewear:

I’d also point to the similarities between the dream sequence from Grease 2

…and the liquid nitrogen sequence from Terminator 2:

Here are a couple of representative stills in case you can’t watch the video clips:

If, after seeing this evidence, you were still skeptical, I’d then point out that nowhere in the extensive literature of Terminator Studies is there any documentation for the inspiration of the T-1000’s motorcycle cop look. (Wikipedia, IMDB, The Terminator Wiki, and the Terminator 2 DVD commentary track are all silent on this issue.) I’d then say that, given this visual evidence of the Grease 2Terminator 2 connection and the lack of any evidence to the contrary, this theory must be correct.

If I were actually trying to sell you on this theory, then that’s what I’d do. But I’m not, because that would be silly. More precisely, if I did try to advance this theory of the Grease 2 – Terminator 2 connection using the evidence and arguments presented above, I’d be guilty of two sins against logical reasoning.

First, I’d be employing an argument from ignorance by claiming something to be true because it can’t be proven false. This type of argument ignores the possibility that some true things can’t be proven to be true and that some untrue thing can’t be proven to be false (given the current body of public knowledge of Terminator 2, that is–more on that in a moment).

And second, I’d be violating Occam’s razor by asserting a complicated explanation, one that relies on many (unproven) assumptions, over the simpler one that relies on fewer assumptions.

T-1000’s Razor.

We can probably all agree that the most likely explanation is coincidence. If you’re a filmmaker trying to add an aura of dehumanizing mystique to a motorcycle-riding antagonist/protagonist, there are only so many ways to do that. Covering the face with a helmet and covering the eyes with eyewear are two really obvious and effective ways of accomplishing this, and there are only so many combinations of helmets and eyewear that make sense for a 50’s greaser or a motorcycle cop.

But where’s the fun in that? Let’s put logic and reason aside and reconsider my outlandish theory for a moment. I consulted every Terminator 2 knowledge source at my disposal to try to find some documentation on the origins of the T-1000’s motorcycle cop look (as the T-800 would say, “I have detailed files”), and I came up empty. That leaves me with gaping uncertainty as well as the tantalizing possibility that this could still be true: that Grease 2 did in fact inspire Terminator 2. Remember that I said this theory can’t be proven as true or untrue given the current body of public knowledge of Terminator 2

What if we were to expand that body of public knowledge?

@JimCameron on Twitter.

What if someone who was involved in the production of Terminator 2 could step up and confirm the inspiration for the T-1000’s motorcycle cop look?

This is not that outlandish of a request for information. I’m not asking Quentin Tarantino to tell us what was in the briefcase in Pulp Fiction. I’m not asking Christopher Nolan to tell us if the top falls over at the end of Inception. I’m just asking for a small piece of information on the creative process that is ultimately inconsequential to the experience of watching the movie.

It’s also not that outlandish to expect a reply. Given the reach of this site, we stand a decent chance of getting the attention of the right people. Just a few days ago, the creator of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic weighed in on our theory that the show is an allegory of  Plato’s Republic:

And a few months ago, we had Michael Gross, the creator of the Ghostbusters logo, join us for a podcast episode to discuss the creative process behind the logo (and his illustrious film career).

Now, I’m not expecting James Cameron to weigh in himself, but I am earnestly asking for anyone who was involved in the production of Terminator 2 to come forward with information, and for you, the readers, to help by sharing this article far and wide.

I’ll be sure to share any responses as soon as I get them, but in the meantime, feel free to weigh in on this theory in the comments!

13 Comments on “The Grease 2 – Terminator 2 Connection”

  1. Gonzo #

    More evidence: the subject of the song. Clearly you didn’t need to write “I’ll Be Back,” because the Terminator saga already had a kick-ass power ballad in “Love willlll turn back…the hands of tiiiiiiime!” (BRB, working on a video of T2 footage set to that song.)

     
    • Lee #

      Um, holy crap. I must find a way to ask Gary Davis this!

       
      • Matthew Belinkie #

        Yeah, I figured this was a weird coincidence. But maybe it’s actually some kind of art design inside joke that’s been waiting 20 years for someone to uncover it.

         
  2. atskooc #

    I take the agnostic approach. The inspiration can neither be proven nor dis-proven. It’s impossible to know one way or the other.

    Fun stuff, Lee!

     
  3. Jeremy Engel #

    Watch yourself, Lee…you’re blowing the lid off things and many people may get upset…I don’t want any Dealey Plaza incidents…

     
  4. Lee #

    Update: inquiries have been sent to Gary Davis, the Stan Winston school (the SFX house that did the practical effects for T2), and the Grease 2 fan site. Stay tuned…

     
  5. Gary Davis #

    Well Hello Lee,
    Yes it is true that I was the stunt double for Maxwell in Grease 2, and the Stunt coordinator and Director of 2nd unit on T2, but to the best of my knowledge, there was no planned simular character traits. First of all James Cameron is in my opinion, the most creative and forward seeing director ever. He was easy for me to serve under because he was very particular about what he wanted to see in my footage. I was very proud of my footage, because it cut so well with his. He chose the look, and without any influence i’m sure. Grease 2, which we did something like 10 years earlier, was just good old fashion fun. I got to design with Jim Arnett a sort of motorcycle ballet outside the bowling alley to “Who’s That Guy”. We blasted the music at every practice and rehearsal. It was great fun to get bikes to crash on ‘down beats’ etc. I have a great poster that Pat Birch, our Director signed and wrote “To the original Cool Rider”. It hangs proudly in my motorcycle museum. On a side note, we didn’t use a stunt double for Michelle Pfeiffer on the bike with me.She sat behind me, then I lifted her around to where she straddled me, and then we wheelie’d away. She was wonderful the whole time.
    Good Luck Lee,
    Gary Davis

     
    • Lee #

      Thanks for weighing in! I must admit, you’ve shattered my dream, just as the Terminator shattered the frozen T-1000. But I think we’re closer to the truth. I guess the only person left to ask is James Cameron himself. :)

      Also, great work on both films!

       
  6. Jason #

    T2 was one of the first movies to use computer generated effects that looked similar to the live actors used in the film.

    In computer animation and other forms of art we use short cuts when we are short on time or in their case technology. The reason you might hide someones head and eyes when possible with a helmet and glasses is because they are more difficult to simulate with a computer. Just as some artists will hide a characters hands because they are difficult to draw.

    They already had the great motocycle chase scene in the movie so if they could keep the actor in the helmet and glasses it would make the effects more realistic.

    Now a days we have shaders to help with hair and pre made rigs for eyes. They would have had to create that from scratch themselves back in the 90’s

    Hope this explains it.