Is Tina Turner the Villain In ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’?

The HBO documentary Tina told the story of legendary singer Tina Turner. The film focused on Turner’s music career, but when it reached the year 1985, it included Turner’s role in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Mad Max is one of Turner’s only movie roles and Tina viewers only got to see a glimpse of her commanding an army across the post-apocalyptic landscape. 

Tina Turner as Aunty Entity in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
Tina Turner | Warner Brothers/Getty Images

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is a turning point for Turner because journalist Kurt Loder visits the set of the film to interview her. Loder in turn pitched writing Turner’s biography, which ultimately became the basis of What’s Love Got to Do With It. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is streaming on HBO Max and available to rent or buy on other platforms if you want to fully experience the magnitude of Turner’s performance. 

Tina Turner the actor

Turner had dabbled in acting prior to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. Her previous movies were, understandably, related to music. She played the Acid Queen in The Who’s musical Tommy, and appeared in Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome: Mel Gibson considers a deal offered by Tina Turner
Mel Gibson and Tina Turner | Warner Bros. Pictures/Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

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After Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Turner would appear as herself at the end of What’s Love Got to Do With It in 1993. That same year, she cameoed as the mayor in a movie within the movie Last Action Hero. Despite her commanding presence, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Jack Slater does not respect her authority. 

Turner’s last role in front of the camera was a 2000 episode of Ally McBeal

‘Mad Max’ Before ‘Thunderdome’

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was already the third movie in the series. Mel Gibson reprised the role he originated in the 1979 Mad Max. Max Rockatansky was a police officer trying to keep the peace in Australia as motorcycle gangs take over. The first film depicted a society on the brink of collapse, with plenty of car chases.

Mad Max: Mel Gibson stands next to Max's car
Mel Gibson | Sunset Boulevard/Corbis via Getty Images

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Mad Max 2 was called The Road Warrior in the U.S. and became the template for every post-apocalyptic movie that followed. By now, Max (Gibson) is a loner, roaming the wasteland trying to avoid gangs of leather-clad marauders. A desert community gets Max to help them transport a gas tanker to safety, concluding in an epic tanker chase. 

Tina Turner as Aunty Entity in ‘Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’

For his third adventure, Max gets robbed by a miniplane pilot and wanders into Bartertown. Bartertown has managed to generate its own electricity using methane from pig waste. Aunty Entity (Turner) is the ruler of Bartertown, but Master Blaster controls the energy. So Entity has a deal for Max.

Entity asks Max to go undercover as a methane worker and challenge Blaster, the muscle in the duo, to a Thunderdome duel. In Thunderdome, two men enter, one man leaves. If Max can kill Blaster for Entity, Master will be helpless. Max is about to win, too, but when he discovers Blaster has Down Syndrome, he refuses to kill him.

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As punishment, Entity banishes Max. Max has more adventures in the desert beyond Thunderdome, and ultimately returns to Bartertown. Hence, Entity leads her forces in the chase scene you saw in Tina. Is she really the villain though? She’s a powerful warlord in a power struggle, for sure, and she plotted murder to get her way. However, her final actions may make you see her as more of an equal to Max. As she says, “Ain’t we a pair, Raggedy Man?”