One of the reasons Mad Max is so good in terms of feminism isn’t because women dominate the entirety of the story or ‘vilify’ men as a whole, and I really, really love that it doesn’t — look at the message. “We are not things”. The story never once lowers the lead men beneath the women narratively. Not once. They work together, are incomplete without the other. Max would be dead if not for them. They would be in the salt flats fighting to survive, if not for Max. Everyone has a purpose, everyone has a strength and weakness.
Both Nux and Max’s story arcs parallel the one with the Wives, but in different ways: Max is not just a muzzled blood bag. He’s a human being who is utterly complex and lost, but he is not just some medical instrument to help top people off. The transition from Max as a ‘nameless’, animalistic IV drip strapped to a car, to serve no other purpose but to die for the War Boys, is a direct example of the overall theme of the movie. By the end of it, we see Max has a quiet compassion for the people he actually cares for, we see him cautiously look for hope and redemption alongside Furiosa, we see a man with a name.
Nux is also not a thing. He’s not just a War Boy pawn mind-washed to serve Joe, not just some object to throw out there, to sacrifice alongside dozens and dozens of other War Boys for the sake of keeping women as objects. Nux is shown kindness and mercy, is told that he is worth more than just Joe’s role for him as a kamikaze pilot. At the end of the movie, he finds hope. Nux is not just a weapon. He is not just a thing.
That is why this movie is so good. Not because the women are risen above the men, not for a lady power-trip (though I do rather enjoy some of those, haha), but because both are treated with the respect they deserve in the story. All of them have a purpose and an arc, all of them fight and save each other, all of them have goals they’re striving towards, all of them have character growth that is wonderful to see side-by-side. Women rescue women, men rescue men, men rescue women, women rescue men — it’s so refreshing to watch everyone both grow and struggle together, as equals, fighting against a force that does not see a single one of them as its equals.
That is why the movie is considered feminist. Because it does what feminism is supposed to do. It provides a refreshing sense of equality between four complicated and wonderful character arcs, between Furiosa, the Wives, Max, and Nux. People who just see a ratio of men vs. women, or who think the women overrun everything and there’s an explicitly women-only message, well, they didn’t quite give it the thought that it deserved. ‘We are not things’ has a deeply important message for a lot of ladies out there due to a number of factors, but it’s also above all a universal message that defies gender barriers.. The Wives are not sexual pawns for you to use. Furiosa is not some heartless War Rig operator robbed of her humanity. Max is not a wild, mindless bloodbag. Nux is not a timebomb.
I just really love it okay.