There are few female led comic book movies I consider to be any good. A few of DC’s animated Wonder Woman films are fun, and Persepolis is great, but there hasn’t been a decent live action, hulking blockbuster released by major studios for audiences to enjoy in the vein of something like a Batman or Spiderman film. The closest in terms of marketing and budget would be Elektra, Supergirl, or Catwoman-all hilariously terrible and hated by both critics and audiences. Adaptations of Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel are thankfully on their way in a few years and will hopefully be well received enough to make way for even more female protagonists. However, there is one woman-lead film I feel has been ignored over the years and deserves some begrudging love-Tank Girl.
Tank Girl is not technically a good film. I have not read many of the comics it’s based off and can only imagine that they’re much better than their adaptation would lead me to believe. The plot is muddled and at times weird, Rebecca (the films’ protagonist) doesn’t have a clear arc, and several scenes were flat out not filmed and had to be later animated. It’s a flawed film. But I love it.
I love that this film is aggressively weird in every aspect-its bizarre editing and punk inspired set design are often cited as detriments to the film overall, but I don’t agree. I think they help make it stylized and make up the major reason to sit through it-Tank Girl, if nothing else, has its own unique identity and is just plain cool to look at. On a pure filmmaking level, where in many areas it completely floundered, Tank Girl manages to be a memorable and interesting experience. Its inserts of comic art and animated sequences help achieve the tone it was going for, in addition to saving some money for a very low budget.
Rebecca also manages to be really compelling to watch, polarizing as Lori Petty’s performance was. Besides its style, the other attraction this film offers is Tank Girl herself. She’s funny, a little nuts, brave, and outsmarts everyone she comes across. Her balls to the walls attitude and constant one-liners are just a joy to witness and I actively wanted to see her take down everyone who crossed her path.
I live for camp and ultimately Tank Girl delivers that in spades. While it’s extremely flawed, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything good to be found. Its aesthetic is astounding and living in a wave of comic book movies that either all ascribe to a generic cookie-cutter look or use a boring grey-scale as a means of showing that the film will be “dark” Tank Girl’s bright pops of color, rocking soundtrack, and eccentricity comes as a breath of fresh air. It doesn’t take itself terribly seriously and neither should you. Tank Girl is a mess, but it’s an enjoyable mess and doesn’t deserve near the scorn it’s received. I don’t care if I end up being a lone woman screaming in the corner-my mission is to convert as many people as possible into loving Tank Girl like I do.