Even Charlize Theron wants a Furiosa movie after Mad Max: Fury Road, but a prequel isn’t the answer. A sequel is.
Mad Max: Fury Road remains one of the best movies in recent years, especially because of its amazing characters, the most remarkable of which is Furiosa. Charlize Theron’s epic portrayal of the ruthless but noble Imperator has had us clamoring for more ever since.
But despite hopes that we would see her again in the upcoming Mad Max movies, director George Miller has stated in the past that she probably won’t appear in the sequels. That hasn’t stopped fans from having hopes, though, and rumors about a Furiosa movie being in the works have been floating around for a while.
Even Theron herself recently said in an interview that she would “love to” be a part of a Furiosa origins movie. “There were three scripts. They were written as back stories to Max’s character and to Furiosa’s character. But at the end of the day, this thing lives and breathes with [director] George [Miller]. I think Warner Bros. knows that. We are all waiting for him to show us the way.”
But while knowing that Theron herself is backing the project has fans excited everywhere, I don’t want a Furiosa prequel at all; I want a sequel.
We don’t need to see Furiosa suffer
Beyond the innovative stunts and cinematography, what made Fury Road so remarkable was the gaze behind it. In a genre that’s so beset with misogyny, the lack of a male gaze when filming female characters, and the tact used when referencing the suffering they went through in their pasts, was unexpected and refreshing to see.
With the story so focused on women fleeing sexual slavery, it would have been easy for Miller to do what most filmmakers have done: introduce the characters to us through their suffering to make us root for them. But instead, Miller steered clear of scenes of abuse and introduced us to Furiosa and the escaped Wives mid-escape. It was a powerful statement, and evidence that women don’t need to be beaten or raped on screen for us to have compassion towards them. It also made the characters much stronger, because they transcended their past and were introduced to us as people.
Which is why it would be strange to see a Furiosa prequel. We already know the suffering she went through, from being kidnapped from the Green Place and losing her mother, to presumably either becoming the Immortan Joe’s slave for a time or going straight into the life of a warrior, losing her arm in the process. It wasn’t a happy time at all. It was something that profoundly shaped her in the most painful way possible, and which resulted in the more taciturn, ruthless and cynical Furiosa we meet in Fury Road.
A comic about Furiosa was released in 2015, and caused much outrage because of the way it approached Furiosa’s character and her motivations, as well as the graphic way it depicted the suffering of the Wives — basically undoing everything that was done so skillfully in the movie. It just goes to show us how carefully Furiosa’s story needs to be tackled, because of the heavy themes involved, and how easily it can all go awry.
So what would be the purpose of a Furiosa movie set before Fury Road? Instead of being an inspiring tale of hope and redemption, a prequel would just make us experience an unending barrage of suffering, only to conclude when the interesting part is just beginning.
The Fury Road was about redemption
We know that Furiosa’s rank as Joe’s finest Imperator can’t have been given lightly, especially when she was a woman in a society ruled by men, where women were little more than ‘breeders.’ To become deserving of so much respect in such a violent society, she must have done particularly horrible things in Joe’s name.
In Fury Road, we see Furiosa grappling with her own sense of hope and duty. She has very little hope, after everything she’s seen, and even that hope isn’t really for herself. It’s ultimately her desire for redemption that drives her. Like Max, she’s weary of the world and its pain, and that desire is probably the only thing keeping her alive. By the end of Fury Road, Furiosa finds redemption, but it’s really only the beginning.
By going back to her life before Fury Road even happened, we would be looking at a much more frightening and tragic version of the Furiosa we know. We would be following the woman Joe saw, the one he elevated to the position of Imperator, and seeing the crimes she committed in his name to survive in the Citadel.
Instead of it being an empowering story, it would be the story of a woman who is tortured to a point that she loses who she is… to such an extent that it takes her around 20 years to get around to escaping to the Green Place again.
Miller himself has stayed mostly quiet about Furiosa’s past, not even revealing more than guesses at what might have caused her to lose her arm. It’s been a great approach, because her vague past has made her character even more appealing. Whether it involved violence, sexual abuse, all of it or something else entirely, that’s all in the past — and we can all find ourselves in Furiosa now, as a strong woman who finally gathers the strength she needs to emerge victorious and find her redemption. Why should we see her at her worst, when we can see her at her best?
There’s potential for a much better story
Furiosa’s journey towards redemption only begins with Fury Road, and indeed her journey with the Dag, Cheeto, Capable and Toast to reconstruct the Citadel doesn’t even begin with the end of the movie. There’s yet a much bigger challenge ahead of them: how do you change a society that’s based on such fundamentally cruel values? How to cure wounds inflicted over the course of decades by Immortan Joe and his predecessors?
If there’s a story about Furiosa that needs to be told, it’s the story of the immediate aftermath to the Fury Road. The story of how they seek to rebuild the Citadel, the politics of it, the balance of power, and the setting of a new standard when it comes to violence and equality is a fascinating one because it’s clearly such a difficult challenge for all the characters. Furiosa is now presumably the leader of the Citadel; how does that affect her identity? How does she shift from warrior to leader? And how does she steer clear from becoming like Joe?
From what we have seen, Furiosa has been a very lonely figure for the past 20 years. The other survivors of the Citadel are likely equally scarred, although in different ways. This could be an excellent opportunity to build the healing friendships between her and the other women, and to show us more of the society of the Citadel — what is Corpus’s role as Joe’s only surviving child? What happens to the Milk Mothers now? What about the Wretched? Will Max ever return?
A sequel would be a story of redemption, of healing and forgiveness, and of finding the strength to lead a society to change for the better, even when it seems impossible. Fury Road already gave us a glimpse of this deeply rooted desire to heal the world, and to heal ourselves: “Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves?”
And that’s the story we should be telling.