Tina Turner is a Grammy-winning Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, a living icon from Nutbush, Tennessee. She’s a survivor of extreme circumstances and a true warrior at heart. It shows in her music, and it’s also evident in her character Aunty Entity from Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, who is legendary in her own right.
A nobody who gets a chance at becoming a somebody once the dust settles in a desolate world full of the worst of the worst, Aunty Entity is essentially Turner in a number of ways, and it’s probably why the character is so memorable even without the fleshed-out backstory.
Aunty Entity isn't an aunty who drives a Nissan Altima; she's an aunty who drives a tricked-out roadster and is the founder and ruler of Bartertown in post-apocalyptic Australia. Her Blackness and being a woman matters and is something that shouldn’t be overlooked — even in a post-apocalyptic world, those identities are not erased. This makes her rise extremely significant. From what we see from the film, Bartertown is plenty white and male. Unfortunately, Thunderdome doesn’t give much backstory to how Aunty Entity came to be their leader, but it's evident that she had whatever it took to secure such a position in such a bleak world. Her first interaction with Max gives us some insight into why she’s the HBIC of Bartertown.
After Max survives Aunty’s audience, and she being the wise queen that she is, she offers him a deal. She’s no fool and can tell that Max has what it takes to help her gain full control of Bartertown by getting rid of Master Blaster, the duo who runs the methane refinery fueled by pigs that Bartertown depends upon. We stan a strategic queen. Aunty probably made a thousand decisions just like that one, and they helped her sustain as ruler. In this post-apocalyptic world, the ability to make the correct decisions could mean life or death. Even when Master Blaster flexes by making her publicly say that they run the town, she does so in order to get the power restored, thus playing their game until she doesn't have to anymore. Patience and good strategic skills go hand in hand.
Aunty Entity is merciful as she strategic. It’s a quality that could get you killed in this world, but a quality that could endear one to those they rule over. When Max reneges on their deal by not killing Blaster in the Thunderdome, the crowd begins calling for his death. Two men enter and only one exits — those are the rules, but they are rules that Aunty put in place.
But if you make the rules, you can bend them or break at your will, and Aunty does just that. She steps in before the crowd calls for Max’s head and exiles him instead. She manages to maintain control but shows mercy at the same time. Aunty could have easily had Max executed right along with Blaster, but doesn’t. She then turns around and bestows Max with her mercy one last time toward the very end of the film. Even after Max and his companions kidnap the Master and take out a good amount of Aunty’s people, she lets him live at the end. She's a wise woman who knows how to show mutual respect.
Aunty Entity clearly wields her power with restraint, which is another reason why she’s the one in control of Bartertown. In the end, she gets what she wanted without any additional unnecessary bloodshed. Plus, anyone who could make post-apocalyptic fashion a look deserves legendary status. The earrings alone are a statement: “You may try me, but that’s about as close as you’ll get.”
While she may not be a warrior in a physical sense, she definitely has the mindset of one. She's a true survivor. It wouldn't be surprising if Turner connected with her character on a personal level. Aunty Entity is the nobody who took her chance to become a somebody and deserves her spot among other strong female characters in genre.