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On 'Mad Max: Fury Road' and its post-apocalyptic feminism

This article contains spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a great action film. Actually, you know what, scratch that—Mad Max: Fury Road is arguably one of the greatest action films ever made. Australian auteur George Miller returns to the genre he helped redefine (beginning with Mad Max in 1979) with a landmark piece of action cinema featuring death-defying stunts, vibrant colors, and a “two hour chase scene” format that leaves you breathless from its opening scene.

But amidst all of the amazing action and economically linear storytelling, Mad Max: Fury Road is also a boldly feminist action picture featuring one of the genre’s newly definitive cinematic heroines: Imperator Furiosa (played with calm yet raging intensity by Charlize Theron).

There are many aspects of Fury Road that immediately stand out to the viewer: from the awe-inspiring car chases to the wonderful use of practical effects. But without a doubt, Furiosa (with her shaved head, metal prosthetic arm, and completely badass leadership) is a character that not only stands out but ends up stealing the film. Despite the film‘s title, Max (Tom Hardy) is really a supporting character in Furiosa’s story. It is Furiosa’s journey that Miller takes both Max and the audience on.

We first meet Furiosa, sent on a mission by the diabolical Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne) to retrieve guzzleline (gasoline), preparing to drive her own big-rig trailer. Joe’s given Furiosa orders to follow, but she has other plans. She quickly veers off course and starts her own mission to send Joe’s wives to a safe haven—it is in this respect that she drives the main narrative of the film. Miller places Max within Furiosa’s mission as a matter of coincidence. Max is experiencing the film’s insane world (a combination of post-apocalyptic Western and the savagery of the Middle Ages) through Furiosa’s actions, and his character is very much secondary to her story.

Hardy and Theron go out of their way to portray Furiosa as Max’s equal, and they brilliantly succeed. Just like him, she only speaks when necessary, and most of her character work is displayed through action. We learn about the characters by discovering what they’re capable of. In fact, a brutal fight scene between the two shows that Furiosa will not tolerate Max risking her mission to protect the Wives. She will fight to the death to see her mission accomplished, no matter the consequences.

Miller is dealing with a lot of weighty issues in Fury Road: Aside from creating this vision of a devastated wasteland in a fully fleshed-out manner, he’s tackling notions of feminism in an age of savagery, portraying acts of rebellion against a patriarchy. All of Miller’s primary characters are permitted acts of rage, leadership, and vulnerability. At one point, Furiosa is reacquainted with her clan members, and the remaining survivors join Furiosa and the Wives to spearhead a mission against the wicked patriarchy of Immortan Joe, who is explicitly using his wives for the sake of breeding and extending his male bloodline. Furiosa’s decided to lead the charge against Joe by rescuing his wives from his tyranny and delivering the women to safety and the prospect of a better future at the “Green Place.”

Rebellion against the patriarchy is an all-systems-go necessity the moment Furiosa steps on her big rig and makes her fateful deviation. She’s seeking redemption amidst a brutal wasteland. Theron and Immortan Joe engage in a deadly battle, and despite having been stabbed, Furiosa lives to take the Wives back to Joe’s Citadel. While she hasn’t delivered on her original plan for freedom, she’s delivered nonetheless.

Miller deals with the theme of redemption through several characters, including Furiosa and Nux (an unrecognizable Nicholas Hoult). Furiosa is looking for it, while Nux finds his way there during the course of the film. He starts out as one of Joe’s War Boys, who are being brainwashed into believing that Valhalla awaits them when they die. When he joins Furiosa’s team, he gradually has a change of heart, an epiphany: Joe’s ideals weren’t right. He seeks redemption by helping the women reach the Citadel. Nux is a part of the group by the end; driving the rig at times, spitting gasoline into the main engine.

Max is crucial to the story despite being sidelined by Furiosa; although he is a supporting player, his character stays true to Miller’s original trilogy starring Mel Gibson as the iconic Road Warrior. He has a strict moral code. Once he joins Furiosa and the team, he agrees to help them on their perilous quest. Hardy’s Max has a deep respect for Furiosa. He sees her as his equal, and instead of going for a clichéd romantic arc between the two, their story is about camaraderie and an indelible bond between two strong road warriors. Max’s respect for and faith in Furiosa makes for a compelling relationship between the two.

Mad Max: Fury Road is a fully formed feminist action picture (Miller brought in Eve Ensler as a consultant), a quality that it weaves through the beautiful symphony of madness that Miller orchestrates.

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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