If you’d asked me before I went to the theater to watch Terminator: Dark Fate if I’d be writing about it, the answer would have been no. Action films are usually, well, just action films, and as much as I enjoy them (not even occasionally, but pretty regularly), they hardly leave me with much to say afterwards.
Terminator: Dark Fate is different.
And, no, it isn’t just because this manages to take one of the most feminist heroes and story-lines we’ve ever gotten (you know, the one James Cameron insisted was THE only feminist character to ever matter, period), point out its problematic parts, and make it even better. It’s also because of the diversity, and how effortless it is.
Though fine, I will take the new John Connor being a WOC, and call that a win too.
Look, sometimes Hollywood makes it seem like casting people that speak Spanish in background roles is impossible, like they cannot possible do better than broken English, even for movies presumably set IN Mexico. I’m not sure if they think that most people won’t notice (which is just faulty math, considering the Hispanic population in the US, and the many international markets that speak Spanish), or they legitimately do not care about that kind of authenticity.
Or worse, if they’d just never thought about it.
And, of course, that isn’t even going into how often Hollywood will just hire any white person who, in their eyes, looks “ethnic” to play latinos, instead of you, know, latinos.
Not this movie, no.
In fact, this movie has a latina lead – played by Colombian actress Natalia Reyes – and a latino villain – played by Mexican-American actor Gabriel Luna. It also has a great deal of latino actors in mostly background roles, which makes a great deal of sense if you consider that most of the movie takes place in Mexico.
Plus, I haven’t even gone into the fact that the only white male who gets any screen time in this movie is Arnold Schwarzenegger, and he’s mostly there for nostalgia’s sake, and to close out Sarah Connor’s storyline.
Take that in – they brought in the white male to serve a woman’s storyline, and spoiler alert, ended up killing him, and not her.
And sure, we do lose one of the female leads of this film, Grace, but it isn’t the WOC and it isn’t the older woman, no.
Instead, Sarah and Dani get to drive off into the horizon, to get ready for another fight. And this time, our heroine, the Mexican woman who spent half the movie speaking in crisp, beautiful Spanish, the one who, when she was raging at the machine that had tried to kill her over and over, did so in Spanish, because that’s what you do, isn’t the woman who will give birth to the real hero.
No, she is the hero. Her own hero, and everyone else’s, not freaking Virgin Mary, like Sarah so aptly put it.
This brings to mind what we had before, and how we, as women, have also evolved in our idea of feminism. The only thing that could have made this movie better was women BTS, women writing the script, because, at times, the movie needed a little bit of …well, a women’s touch.
A woman’s understanding.
Some things men can’t get, because they’ve never been there. When you’re making a movie about women – even if you think your audience will be mostly male – it’s a good idea to bring in, you know, a woman, so she can give her input on, you know, women, lest you end up writing a man’s idea of feminism.
Despite this the movie is a huge step forward both for women, and for the idea that Hollywood can and should be more cognizant of diversity when making casting decisions. Hire latinos to play latino characters – and I’m not just talking about lead roles, but background ones too.
It shows you, as a filmmaker, care.
And I promise you, in 2019, more people will support you if they think you do. Including us here at Fangirlish.
What did you think about Terminator: Dark Fate? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Terminator: Dark Fate is in theaters now.