Mad Max: Fury Road was not only a surprising commercial hit when it debuted in theaters this summer, scooping over $374 million in box office returns worldwide, but it’s also gone on to become one of the best critically received films of 2015, impressive given the uphill struggle it went through just to get made:
“[Fury Road] was green lit three times and fell over three times over a decade. We went to shoot with Mel Gibson back in 2001, but then 9/11 happened, and the American dollar collapsed against the Australian dollar close to 30 per cent, so we lost that amount of budget overnight.
[On our next attempt] we were then rained out of Australia. The desert rained for the first time in 15 years, and we ended up in South West Africa, Namibia. But in this process, we had dug down deep into the backstory, not only of the characters, but of every vehicle. How the steering wheels became religious artifacts and things like that.”
– George Miller [Director/Co-Writer]
As a result of work spanning more than a decade trying to get this film made Miller ended up with a tremendous amount of potential material, more than enough to lay down the framework for a sequel, or two!
“We ended up with two scripts, without really trying. We’re talking to the studio [Warner Bros] about it as we speak, but which one of the two stories will happen next, I’m not so sure.”
The overwhelmingly positive response to Mad Max: Fury Road surprised even Miller, perhaps as a result of how long it took to claw the film out of development hell and into the light. And what a light it brought with it. Whether you like beautifully choreographed car chases and stunts with minimal CGI, compelling crafted characters, new heights in post-apocalyptic landscapes or just want to see stuff blowing up in a 2-hour long car chase, Fury Road had it all, setting a new standard for the modern action flick.
One of Fury Road’s most highly praised aspects was the treatment of Charlize Theron’s character Imperator Furiosa. You know it’s going to be good when you get an action film being lambasted by the wildly fanatical Return of Kings, and Furiosa and the Brides managed to live up to this hype by being pretty fantastic characters, Furiosa in particular.
Miller’s response to Furiosa’s popularity as a legitimately well-written female action hero was refreshing too, when asked if he intended for Mad Max: Fury Road to contain feminist overtones he responded: “there was never an agenda, it arose purely out of the mechanics of the story.” Which is great. We shouldn’t still be at the point where well-written female characters are something to crow about, but sadly we still are – at least when it comes to Hollywood films.
That’s not to say that Tom Hardy’s Max was sidelined by any means, rather the two shared the screen quite neatly, never quite on the same page but not always at odds either.
The writers did manage to shoehorn in a romance, but thankfully not between Max and Furiosa, rather focusing on the bond that develops between Capable (Riley Keough) and Nux (Nicholas Hoult), through which they reclaim the War Boy’s “witness me” as Nux sacrifices himself to save the Brides during the climactic road battle.
It does seem unlikely though that Furiosa and the Brides will appear in any followups that do come to pass as Fury Road ended with Max disappearing in the crowd of the Citadel, presumably not staying to join in the celebrations in the wake of warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne)’s death. Theron herself has said that she’s not currently on board for any sequels,
This could be a good thing though, whilst Fury Road was primarily concerned with Max bumping into Furiosa and the Bride’s mission to flee Immortan Joe and his oppressive regime, we didn’t really learn that much about the titular character.
Who exactly is this iteration of Max Rockatansky and how does he gel with the Mel Gibson version we saw in the first three films? Whilst Beyond Thunderdomewas concerned with Max regaining his humanity after twenty-years wandering the wilderness, Tom Hardy’s Max marks a return to the wild-man trope at the outset of the film: a snarling man of few words who eats lizards and abandons pregnant women to die in the desert. Obviously his character does develop a little in-between explosions, but where he goes from here is a story that is just begging to be told.
When Will It Happen?
Not for a little while yet it seems, Miller has said that before returning to Mad Max he’d like to do something a little less intense first, which I suppose is fair enough.
“I want to do a small film without special effects before I do any of that, just to do it quickly. We shot Fury Road for eight months… that’s a lot. Every day in the heat and the dust, doing these stunts, it’s very wearing. We’ve got two more planned, but at some point in the future.”
So whilst they may not come to fruition for a while yet, it does look like we’re going to get two more films to round out the new Mad Max trilogy, and if they can keep up with the high-octane presence of Fury Road that’s a very exciting thing indeed.
The first sequel will be entitled Mad Max: The Wasteland, and currently has an unknown release date.