Max Rockatansky

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Name: Max Rockatansky, Mad Max
Occupation: Road Warrior
Relationships: Jesse Rockatansky (wife; deceased), Sprog (son; deceased)
Fandom: Mad Max
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Max Rockatansky is the eponymous hero of the Mad Max series. Originally played by Mel Gibson, Tom Hardy took over the role in 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road.

In Canon

Like “Mad Max” is essentially just a catchy franchise title, and the movies follow him because he’s a recognizable starting point. He literally tries to quit his job in the first movie. He never wants to be the protagonist. Leave him alone.[1]

Movie one is him realizing being the main character sucks, and every movie after that is him just being like “I don’t want to be here I don’t want to be here CAN I PLEASE LEAVE NOW.” Which, tbh, makes him the most relatable male action movie protagonist ever.[2]

Mad Max has always been an argument against toxic masculinity. Max tries desperately to conform to that kind of masculinity because it would be easier for him. He could just worry about himself without feeling much of anything for others. But as these movies always play out, Max is proven not to be that kind of person. No matter how hard he tries, he can’t change the fact that he’s a good person at heart.[3]

For as most folks who have seen prior Mad Max movies know, Max just sort of wanders into these weird enclaves, fucks around, and then wanders out. He is the traveler, the witness to their stories. ...Max is not the hero. He’s the witness. Just like the war boys yelling at one another “Witness me!” he is the one who goes on, who drags on. He is that wandering 80’s apocalypse male hero, tied to nothing and no one. He has to be, so he can wander off at the end – as he inevitably does here – and leave the real heroes to deal with the messy business of mopping up and governing a new world. --Wives, Warlords and Refugees: The People Economy of Mad Max[4]

Max wins nothing for all his troubles. His only win is seeing a wrong made right. -Wives, Warlords and Refugees: The People Economy of Mad Max[5]

Fury Road

Max seems to be suffering from PTSD: he has nightmares and flashbacks, and is uncommunicative through much of the movie. Although he initially wants to just run away, both from the hellish Citadel and then from Furiosa and the war party, he does join Furiosa and finds "some sort of redemption" in helping her and the other women.

In the first Mad Max movie, we see a Max choosing to throw away his humanity for revenge and become a beast, chaining Johnny by the ankle to a vehicle rigged to explode. In Road Warrior, we see a Max who eats dog food and chains the Gyro Captain to a dead tree, essentially leaving him for dead. In Thunderdome, we see a Max who is willing to kill a man to get back some stolen camels. And finally, in Fury Road, we see a Max who is literally a beast of a man, chained and faceless until the moment he completes one unselfish act, volunteering to reconnect the gas pod. For Max, choosing to become an amoral beast becomes a hard habit to break and his brief willingness to let his friends die shows that he backslides into his bad habit. Perhaps it is to tell us as the audience that revenge while briefly satisfying, can have long-term consequences that stain us with a burden of guilt that is hard to shed.[6]

Max is not the protagonist. He’s the helper. He’s Obi-Wan and Gandalf and the (good) Terminator. He’s in this story to assist Furiosa on the way to her destiny. She’s the one with the verbalised backstory, the one with a dream they are heading for, the one who is bowed but unbroken before the mighty final act. Max is Santa Claus, handing out practical gifts of swords and healing cordial to the Pevensie children just before shit gets real. He’s not the hero – he doesn’t even want to be the hero. But he recognises something in Furiosa and her quest to find a good life and safety for the wives, and he decides to help her attain it before he goes back to his grizzled angry life as a barely-hanging on survivor who doesn’t care about anything but his occasional angsty flashbacks. -Mad Max as Feminist Ally[7]

Max's willingness to support Furiosa and defer to her judgement as well as his respectful treatment of the other women in the movie make many fans interpret him as a feminist hero.

We need more protagonists like Steve Rogers, who accept rejection with grace, instead of treating flirtation like a sales transaction to be haggled over. We need more protagonists like Wade Wilson, a man in his mid thirties who thinks getting hit on by an woman nearly half his age is awkward and disturbing, instead of sexy, and who genuinely respects and admires his age-appropriate girlfriend who does sex work. We need more Fury Road version Max Rockatanskys, more Finn (Damerons), more Peeta Mellarks, and more Raleigh Beckets. I by no means want to devalue the importance of calling out problematic male behavior. On the contrary – it’s important to show that even well meaning men can unintentionally cause harm. But there’s no point telling men and boys “what not to do” if we’re not also showing men and boys what they should be doing. -On Building Better Male Protagonists[8]

He is also a badass feminist ally. He doesn’t mean to be, at first. He is completely out for himself. He starts out entirely selfish and only gradually becomes invested in the survival of the women who have – with Furiosa’s help – already rescued themselves. He doesn’t bother to stop and view them as sexual objects because he has more important things to worry about. He is never a sexual threat to these women, and I was never for one second afraid that he might be, despite their early vulnerability and the fact that it took them a long time to accept that about him. -Mad Max as Feminist Ally[9]

In Fandom





  1. ^ I KNOW, RIGHT by just-a-storyteller. Posted June 3, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2016.
  2. ^ “He literally tries to quit his job in the first movie” by Screech Posted June 3, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2016.
  3. ^ I’ll tell you how. It’s actually pretty simple by The Mad Max Planet. Posted June 3, 2016. Accessed June 18, 2016.
  4. ^ Wives, Warlords and Refugees: The People Economy of Mad Max by Kameron Hurley. Posted May 18, 2015 . Accessed October 14, 2018.
  5. ^ Wives, Warlords and Refugees: The People Economy of Mad Max by Kameron Hurley. Posted May 18, 2015 . Accessed October 14, 2018.
  6. ^ 160 Days of Guilt Posted August 31, 2015. Accessed March 29, 2016.
  7. ^ Mad Max as Feminist Ally by Tansy Rayner Roberts Posted May 26, 2015. Accessed April 2, 2016.
  8. ^ On Building Better Male Protagonists Posted March 2016. Accessed March 28, 2016.
  9. ^ Mad Max as Feminist Ally by Tansy Rayner Roberts Posted May 26, 2015. Accessed April 2, 2016.