MAD MAX Public Service Announcement

Its has come to my attention that multiple acquaintances of mine had no idea there were 3 original Mad Max films. I don’t know how this is possible and would not have believed there was such widespread unawareness if I had not seen it with my own eyes.

SO! Here’s a quick run-down for peeps interested. None of the first ones are quite like Fury Road (it’s its own beast), but budding Apocalypse/Dieselpunks and fans of the aesthetic or concept of Mad Max will likely enjoy the original trilogy.

The original Mad Max films starred Mel Gibson as Max. They were all created, written, and directed by GEORGE MILLER. Yep, same guy. Mad Max is his creative offspring.

The first movie was released in 1979 and is titled Mad Max. It was filmed in Australia and some Aussie accents got dubbed over for whatever reason, so if you can find an un-dubbed version I recommend watching that one. This movie takes place towards the start of the collapse of society and you see how Max became the kind of person he is.

The second movie is called Mad Max 2 aka Road Warrior and was released in 1981. This begins the individual self-contained Max stories. At this point, the order of films is not of great consequence. Each film is a self-contained story. Think of Mad Max like the character of Sherlock Holmes. He’s like a legend and people tell stories of this fabled person. Each movie is one of the stories that make up the Legend of Max.

Third movie is called Mad Max Beyond the Thunderdome and was released in 1985. This is where we start really seeing some really powerful women, which goes on to be a major theme in Fury Road. We also get some more insight as to what happened to the world.

Please note that characters (aside from Max) and storylines don’t really carry over from one movie to the next. It is Max, and it is set in the same world, but they are separate. If George continues this successful trend (and by the looks of the ending of Fury Road, I think he might), the next Mad Max film will not be about Furiosa. I know I know, sadface. But I personally would be more excited to see what new, creative scenario and characters he could come up with, rather than wring these ones dry.

Hope y’all enjoy OG Max because honestly he’s always been pretty rad.

Random other note for new Mad Max fans and apocalypse punks, there’s an annual event out in the California desert called Wasteland Weekend where folks dress up like marauders and build wacky rusty vehicles and basically the whole thing looks straight from a Mad Max movie (or Borderlands game or Fallout game). With the success of Fury Road I am betting this year’s event is gonna be extra grand!

Ok, I’m officially convinced.

1) The fist Mad Max film presents Western society on a decline, but not post-apocalyptic.  There are cities, lawyers, a police force, a court system, all very recognizable in clothes and style, etc etc.  It’s pretty much our world but resources are growing scarce, and criminal gangs have taken over the open roads between cities (this is a common device in 80s dystopia.  Street crime had been on the rise for a while then [thanks primarly to two faced coin of certain drug cartels and the “war on drugs”], and the idea that it would continue on that same trajectory unabatted to a dystopian conclusion was a common one in fiction).

2) Sometime between the first and second film, a global nuclear war happened, and now humanity is struggling to find a way to survive in the immediate aftermath.  We end with a more tribal vision of the future, in which “the Road Warrior” has become a culture hero of myth.

3) In Fury Road however, only the very old remember civilization at all, and society is more like the glimpse of the future we got at the end of Road Warrior, though a more negative specific case thanks to the triple-alliance of Immortan Joe, People-Eater, and the Bullet Farmer.

So how is Max in his 30s in Fury Road?  How was he a “cop” according to his own narration.

Biggest clues that were staring us in the face…

 - Gibson’s “Mad” Max was Angry - not mentally ill.  Hardy’s Max is clearly an unstable unreliable narrator.

- The visions of a girl’s death that plague Hardy’s Max do NOT fit the backstory from the Gibson films.  Max lost his wife and infant SON.

- Max’s protected music box

- His resistance to giving any name at all - as though he has none, only to almost seem to PICK Max at the climax of the film.

Conclusion:  That’s not Gibson’s Max.  It’s the feral boy from “Road Warrior” all grown up, and internalizing the mythic figure who saved him as a child.