“No fate but what we make for ourselves”: agency and the action heroine in the Terminator films.

Authors: Van Raalte, C.

Conference: Console-ing Passions

Dates: 23-25 June 2022


Terminator: Dark Fate, released in 2019, is the 6th reboot of the science fiction franchise, with Arnold Schwarzenegger reprising his signature role as the increasingly human, time-traveling robot T-800. The aging Arnie, however, does not appear until halfway through the film, playing the comic, if still lethal, wingman to no less than three kickass action heroines: Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton), now a crusading vigilante wanted in 50 states; Grace (Mackenzie Davis), an enhanced bodyguard sent from the future, and Dani (Natalia Reyes), the target of the machines’ latest assassination attempt – the woman who represents humanity’s last hope.

In keeping with the pleasures of genre movies, and sequels in particular, this female-dominated line-up offers a blend of novelty and continuity. On the one hand, the threesome represent a break with a very masculine tradition; on the other, the film reboots many of the themes and tropes associated with the heroines of the previous films… albeit with a self- conscious twist. In this paper I will explore the reimagining of the action heroine through the six Terminator films, with particular emphasis on the critical, if often opaque, distinction between woman as subject and woman as object of the narrative.

Source: Manual