I think one of the things I loved the most about Mad Max, beyond all the amazing way the film utterly destroys the typical portrayals of women in actions films, is Hardy’s portrayal of Mad Max. I haven’t seen the original films, so I don’t know if the way he played Max’s trauma was in keeping with the other films, but in Fury Road Max completely undermines all the typical ways of showing trauma in male action heroes.
Hardy’s Max isn’t cruel because he is traumatized. He isn’t cold and emotionless, he isn’t stoic, he doesn’t force everyone to do what he wants. He doesn’t ignore his pain (of course, the occasional broody stare into the distance or choked explanation of the character (inevitably a woman) who died because of his mistakes is allowed for the action hero, but nothing more than that).
Hardy’s Max is traumatized, he is twitchy, non-verbal, and is haunted by hallucinations/flashbacks. Despite this, he listens to the other characters; when the women decide to trust Nux, he trusts their judgement. He’s very obviously afraid. He is far more viscerally traumatized than anything you typically see out of male action stars.
The film completely undermines the male action hero, both by having the women be the true propelling force behind the film’s action, and by having a traumatized action hero who is actually traumatized.