Mad Max: Fury Road

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Name: Mad Max: Fury Road
Abbreviation(s): MMFR, Fury Road
Creator: George Miller
Date(s): released May 7, 2015
Medium: Movie
Country of Origin: USA
External Links: imdb, Wiki
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Poster for Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max, Fury Road is the award-winning fourth installment in the Mad Max film series, released many years after the other films. This film is notable for provoking massive outcry among male action fans (resulting in a MMFR fan creating the Furiosa Test), and being an enormous favorite of feminists and women action fans in general. Tom Hardy plays the ubiquitous Mad Max, but many fans claim that the main character is actually Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron.

Canon

After a nuclear apocalypse and series of wars over resources, the world has shattered into small, often brutal, societies. As he roams alone across the desert landscape, Max Rockatansky is captured by a gang of War Boys, young men who serve and obey a warlord named Immortan Joe, and then imprisoned so that the War Boys can use him as a blood donor. When Joe realizes that one of his high-ranking generals, Furiosa, has freed a group of young women called The Wives who were being held to bear his children, Joe sends a war party out to reclaim them. Tethered by IV to a War Boy named Nux, Max is dragged along until he's able to fight against Nux and Nux's partner Slit. Max eventually join Furiosa and the other women, and their initial distrust of one another is overcome as they race from Joe's forces and attempt to find Furiosa's home, a lost oasis in the wasteland called the Green Place, where women, called "the Many Mothers," live in safety.

When Angharad, the unspoken leader of Joe's wives, falls off the rig, the group makes the difficult decision to continue on their journey. Nux is invited into the group by Capable, another wife, and with his help, the rig is able to outrun the war parties and make it to a haven where Furiosa's tribe, the Vuvalini, are living. They explain that the Green Place was too polluted to live in and that most of the tribe is dead; with no other option, the group decides to abandon their quest. Max suggests they turn around, drive through the remains of Joe's army, and take Joe's base for their own.

After a heated race and battle, Furiosa kills Joe and Nux sacrifices himself to end the chase. As the women reclaim their home and are lifted up into the base, Max leaves to return to the road.

Characters

Feminism

Aja Romano's tweet on MMFR

Fury Road received accolades for the depth and scope of female characters. The protagonists of the movie are primarily women: Furiosa, the five Wives, and the Vuvalini; Max and Nux are the only men. Furiosa is the catalyst for the plot, drives it forward literally and figuratively, and is the person to kill the big bad at the end. Needless to say, the movie quickly passes and then surpasses the Bechdel test.

In Fury Road, Immortan Joe is presented as patient 0 of a toxic masculinity epidemic. He’s infected an entire culture with his misogynist, dehumanizing spores. The male heroes are either immune to his influence, or (in Nux’s case) are cured of it through the aid of strong feminist medicine. Either way, by the time we get 1/3 of the way through the film there’s not a single trace of his sexism in either of their systems. -Why Fury Road’s Heroes Are Better Than Ur Fav[1]
What I actually want to do, the reason why I’m writing this monster of a post, is to celebrate an aspect of Fury Road’s feminism that I’ve yet to see talked about in much detail. Yes, this does run as a counter-point to the people arguing that this movie is barely feminist at all, but I want to make a positive argument as much as I can. I want to, hopefully, spotlight another thing we can talk about in our continuing (& so valuable) discussions of Fury Road’s gender politics: that this is a film where the female characters get not only a lion’s share of the narrative, but complete narrative arcs that are their OWN, independent of men. -Ride Eternal[2]
So: The action protagonist is a badass disabled lady. The person in need of healing and the healer is the guy. Who’s also an action movie badass, but honestly everyone in this is – even the wives, who’ve clearly been isolated to the point where they have no or almost no experience with fighting, have their moments of impressive action. They fight, they help, they’re brave, and despite not being the central characters of the film and not having many lines between them, they’re differentiated. --Mad Max Meta[3]
I convinced 6 middle aged women that professed to hate action movies to go see Mad Max: Fury Road. You know how I did it? I said “The main character is a woman and she’s not sexualized at all.” And that was it. I had a whole speech prepared and I said one sentence before they all agreed to go see it. And they LOVED it. One woman saw it twice so she could bring her teenaged daughter. All these years, all this industry moaning about how women don’t like action movies, and all it fucking took to change their minds was “The main character is a woman and she’s not sexualized.” -[4]
What’s so interesting about this, is that George didn’t realize he’d made a feminist movie, or feminist characters, because he just wrote what’s real. I’ve heard Charlize talk about this as well, saying the term “feminist” is a bit polarizing, because honestly women are just real people, and they want to simply exist and be written as real people. The fact that George did that, and it needs the label of ‘feminist’, when in actuality it shouldn’t need to be “special” or have a label. He just wrote human beings as actual human beings. It shines a bright light upon what writing should be for women, and how it should be the norm, not the exception. It shouldn’t take amazing insight to just write women as people.[5]
It shouldn't be groundbreaking for this many women to have roles in an action movie in 2015, but it is. But Fury Road as with most of its themes, is less concerned with preaching a philosophy of feminism to you than with letting the ideals of feminism speak for themselves. In this narrative, women aren't expendable, negligent plot devices; they're characters with just as much agency over the plot as any of the men.[6]
Furiosa is extraordinary. She’s action hero and maternal guardian rolled into one; if Max is the masculine feminist ally and Nux the reluctant but redeemable feminist ally, Furiosa is that even more important figure: a woman who is strong and powerful enough to transcend the sexist bullshit of her society, a woman who has shot and punched her way through the glass ceiling, and then stops to help other, less powerful women along the way. We need our male allies in feminism, but we need our powerful women to be allies too, and not all of them are. --Mad Max as Feminist Ally[7]

Despite the vocal and varied support of the movie, some people disgreed with calling it a feminist film. Most notably, Anita Sarkeesian took to Twitter to discuss her opinion on it, stating that "I’m not one to shy away from expressing unpopular opinions. So here goes. I saw Fury Road. I get why people like it. But it isn’t feminist."[8][9]

The movie also riled Men's Rights Activists, who were furious that a woman was the main character. They proposed a ban; in turn, a fan of Fury Road proposed the Furiosa Test as an addition to film critique methods of measuring a movie's feminist qualities: a film passes if it incites misogynists to boycott.

Fandom

Needs More Fandom: this article needs more fandom/fannish content. Please try to focus on how fans relate or interact with this subject or topic. See What Fanlore is not for more information.

Original Characters

The MM:FR fandom generated a lively and accepting online role playing community. It featured both canon characters and an unusual amount of original characters (OCs). War Boys and Polecats were notably popular as role playing OCs and have a distinct fandom subculture.

Other OCs were remarkable for their diversity and for their subversive role within the MM:FR universe: the Bullet Farmer's mother, Imperator Librarian, Wasteland philosophers, discarded Wives of the Immortan taking on new roles.

Role playing OCs spilled over into fanfiction and cosplays.

Common Tropes in Fanworks

As of October 2018, AO3 has 2463 works in the Mad Max category[10]; the vast majority of them feature characters from Fury Road. Alternate universes are popular genres, as are fix-its. Authors who stay within the movie's setting often do world building, exploring the foundation of Joe's cult or how the Citadel rebuilds after his death.

Ships

Due to the large cast, there are a wide variety of ships for this movie, including slash, het, femslash, and poly ships. Fans have also created ships for characters who identify as agender, and some characters have been written/drawn as transgndered. Popular het ships include Furiosa/Max and Capable/Nux; femslash ships include Furiosa/Valkyrie and Cheedo/Dag; and slash ships include Nux/Slit and Max/Nux. Portmanteaus are sometimes used for ships, such as Nuxable for Nux and Capable, and Suxable for Slit/Nux/Capable.

Awards

Challenges

Fanworks

Examples Wanted: Editors are encouraged to add more examples or a wider variety of examples.

Fanfic

Fanzines

Fanart

Meta/Further Reading

Fannish Resources

References

  1. Why Fury Road’s Heroes Are Better Than Ur Fav Posted July 2015. Accessed February 3, 2016.
  2. A War Rig Of One’s Own: A Very Long Post On Fury Road’s Feminism by wellntruly Posted June 1, 2015. Accessed February 3, 2016.
  3. Mad Max Meta by shadesofmauve Posted June 2015. Accessed February 3, 2016.
  4. I convinced 6 middle aged women that professed to hate action movies to go see Mad Max: Fury Road by Actually Joe Biden Posted May 31, 2015. Accessed February 3, 2016.
  5. George Miller on Mad Max: Fury Road by bassfamimation Posted February 2016. Accessed February 9, 2016.
  6. 'Mad Max: Fury Road' is everything you've heard and so much more by Aja Romano at The Daily Dot, Posted May 15, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2016.
  7. Mad Max as Feminist Ally by Tansy Rayner Roberts Posted May 26, 2015. Accessed April 2, 2016.
  8. I’m not one to shy away... Posted on May 19, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2016.
  9. Anita Sarkeesian on Mad Max: Fury Road Posted on May 19, 2015. Accessed February 20, 2016.
  10. Works in Mad Max Series (Movies). Accessed March 28, 2016.