The mid-1990s was hardly the ideal time to unleash a post-apocalyptic comic book adaptation upon an unsuspecting world, a period where the cinemagoing public hadn’t even considered the possibility that Marvel characters were capable of headlining their own movies, so there was always an air of destiny surrounding Tank Girl eventually finding cult classic status.
At the time, though, Rachel Talalay’s wildly ambitious slice of sci-fi insanity bombed incredibly hard. On a budget of $25 million, Tank Girl could only recoup $6 million from theaters, but at least it didn’t take long for the gonzo blockbuster to start finding second life on home video and television. 27 years on, it boasts a loyal and dedicated following, many of whom have emerged from the woodwork to sing its praises in an appreciation thread gathering steam on Reddit.
It sounds oxymoronic, but Tank Girl was both very much of, and yet way ahead of its time. The aesthetic and soundtrack is distinctly 1995, but the thematic undertones of fighting back against cultural oppression, the harassment of and violence towards women, sex positivity in female-led studio films, and representation across the board to name but a few are all relevant today, while the film’s influence has been felt on anything and everything from cosplay at conventions to DCEU blockbuster Birds of Prey.
Tank Girl is by no means a cinematic classic, even if the studio was partly responsible due to the substantial edits made against the wishes of director Talaly that rendered much of the narrative almost incomprehensible, but it most definitely didn’t deserve to be buried and bombed on its initial release – something fans have known for a long time.