Mad Max: Fury Road is set to be one of this summer’s biggest blockbusters, but not a lot of people know what it’s actually about or that it’s a continuation of a popular 1980s movie franchise.
We here at Hypable think that’s quite a shame, so we’ve written you a short guide on the craziness that is the Mad Max series. You won’t learn much (if at all) about Max’s backstory in Fury Road but this article should give you a relatively substantial background on the classic character (and franchise)!
What are these movies about?
Inspired by the very real global oil crisis in the late 1970s and early 1980s, the Mad Max movies, are, first and foremost, fun action films. But they’re more than that; they also serve as social commentary, especially since their dystopian reality is not that improbable given the context in which they were created. They were all the rage in the 1980s and still hold up as a great action franchise today. (Hence, the reason for Mad Max: Fury Road!)
In a dystopian future Australia, there’s a terrible energy crisis that causes society to falter. The Outback has essentially been reduced to just a few major cities and some small communities that are few and far between.
Because of the crisis, life is anything but peaceful. Oil becomes the currency of the land and cruel motorcycle gangs rise, terrorizing the population and scavenging for oil. (After all, if a motorcycle gang wants to remain a motorcycle gang, they’re going to need gas for their bikes.) Though there’s a police force created to oppose the gangs and uphold justice, they’re out-run and out-matched.
Basically, this dystopian Australian Outback is a wasteland that’s home to turf wars and cool-looking, souped-up cars, trucks, and motorcycles. That’s where Mad Max (portrayed then by a young Mel Gibson, now by a rugged Tom Hardy) comes in.
So who IS Mad Max (and why is he mad)?
Mad Max, or Max Rockatansky, is (you guessed it) the franchise’s main protagonist. Its hero. Also known as “The Road Warrior” or “The Man With No Name,” Max is a quiet and reserved man who doesn’t care much about what others think about him.
At the beginning of the series, he was a Main Force Patrol officer who fought to keep peace on the Australian roads. After his wife and daughter are killed by a fierce biker gang, Max becomes overwhelmed with grief and rage and kills every one of the biker gang members. From then on, he adopts his Mad Max sort of persona and journeys out into the dystopian Australian wasteland, abandoning what’s left of “normal” civilization. And that’s only in the first movie.
It comes as no surprise then, after everything he has been through, that Max has trust issues. Over the course of the next two movies, Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior and Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome, Max struggles with helping others while still yearning to remain isolated.
Though he demonstrates his ability to care for humanity once again in both movies, he resists forming bonds with the people he comes across and helps. Max instead sticks to his goal of remaining isolated, physically and emotionally. The last time we ever see him (before Mad Max: Fury Road, that is), he’s just wandering through the desolation alone, scavenging for what he needs to survive.
What’s the deal with all of the cars and weird-looking people?
They’re cool. That’s what the deal is. The tricked out vehicles and dystopian punk-looking characters are the franchise’s unique aesthetic. It’s what the movies are really known for. These elements demonstrate exactly how cruel and ruthless the world has become since the energy crisis and how far people have fallen from society.
Plus, as we mentioned above, oil is the name of the game in this dystopian world. It’s what rules over everything. So what better way to demonstrate how much oil means to these people than by making them crazy and tricking out their automobiles? After all, the gangs with the most tricked-out cars and trucks are the ones who are going to get to the oil first (by both speed and force).
How does ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ fit into all this?
In Mad Max: Fury Road, Max (now played by Tom Hardy) is still wandering the desert and once again finds himself aiding those in need (albeit because it’s his only chance to escape as well). Max puts his life on the line to help a group of female captives who are running away from the fascist leader of a territory called “The Wasteland.” As you can imagine (and probably saw in the trailers), chaos and car chases ensue.
Fury Road is written, directed, and produced by the same man who created the original three movies, George Miller, which means that this continuation is in the best hands possible. There’s no doubt that this fourth movie will continue and expand on Max’s internal struggles and the danger-ridden wasteland in a way that will make it a great new addition to the series.
While it’s improbable that we’ll see any sort of change in the dystopian Australia’s status quo or environment, Mad Max: Fury Road is sure to be a fun ride!
‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is in theaters now! Go see it!