Warning this article contains spoilers for Mad Max (1979), but if you are reading this, you have probably already seen it!
When Mad Max Fury Road came out earlier in the year there was lots of speculation about how it fits into the continuity of the other three Mad Max movies. Ultimately there are too many things that don’t fit with the second and third movies so it has to be a reboot or reimagining of some kind. It could follow the original film or it could be a totally new timeline. This got me thinking about the character of Max and how he was shaped by the events of the first movie. The voiceover at the start of Fury Road includes the declaration from Max that he is “A man reduced to a single instinct; survive”. But what would have happened if things were different?
The original film, Mad Max (1979) set in a crumbling society described as being a few years from now, begins with escaped convict The Nightrider (Vince Gil) running for his life in a stolen police car (1972 Holden Monaro). He is chased by a two police pursuit vehicles (both Ford Falcons). Eventually he comes face to face with The Interceptor, aka Max Rockatansky. After losing a game of chicken, The Nightrider crashes and dies. His friends, a biker gang led by The Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne – who also plays Immortan Joe in Fury Road) seek revenge. They kill Max’s wife, Jessie (Joanne Samuel) and their child, as well as his best friend Jim Goose (Steve Bisley) . Max steels what becomes his iconic car, a V8 1973 Ford Falcon GT. He kills the bikers and disappears into the wasteland.
The second film Mad Max 2 aka Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981) sees a world that has descended further and is little more than a wasteland populated by societies looking for hope, war parties trying to take it from them, and loners like Max who are reduced to the survival instinct. But what if things had been different on day one, what if The Nightrider had been shot trying to escape, or had crashed before he reached Max? The world would still have descended into madness but Max’s place in it would be very different. Was he still working for the police when things finally fell apart? Would he have developed his cold survival instinct? Would he still have a family to protect, and give him something to fight for? Would he ever have found his way to Thunderdome? What would The Toecutter and his gang done had they survived?
And what is the point of all this? The scenarios within the Mad Max universe are endless. A sequel (or prequel) Mad Max: The Wasteland with Tom Hardy reprising the role has been announced. The idea of a Furiosa movie has been suggested. As much as I would like to see more Charlize Theron and the character Imperator Furiosa, we have already seen her story. She, not Max is a the primary character of Fury Road and the events of the movie are the most significant of her life, the redemption she has been seeking. There are two films I would like to see: An action road movie starring Hardy set at a time somewhere between the first and second movie. The other; thirty years after the events of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) Max (a returning Mel Gibson) struggles to find a place in a recovering society but is the only hope when marauders emerge from the wasteland.
Whaterver comes next, I am onboard as long as George Miller is at the helm!