As Mad Max: Fury Road to Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, and so it makes me wonder if Mad Max: The Wasteland is going to be Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The Road Warrior was a chase movie, whereas I’d describe Beyond Thunderdome as more like a Yojimbo movie. From what I recall, and what I read from wikipedia, Thunderdome has Max coming to a place called Bartertown. I think there are fewer vehicles in Thunderdome because it’s set a decade or more after The Road Warrior so there’s much less gasoline. But honestly it’s been years, I really need to just watch all the movies.
So Bartertown is kind of how I imagine Gasoline Town (in Fury Road) would be like. It’s a community built around a methane refinery and ruled by an uneasy alliance between The Master and Aunt Entity. Max wanders in and becomes at a pawn that Entity can use to defeat The Master. But Max reneges on their deal and is exiled into the desert to die.
This part actually reminds me of Fury Road: Max finds a community of children who have been growing up alone in the desert. They worship the messianic Captain Walker character (the captain of the airplane that carried the children) who left long ago promising to return. They mistake Max for their messiah. This exploration of religion and its forms really reminds me of Immortan Joe who uses religion as a tool, where as “Walker-ism” is a more organic religion spawned by fundamental misunderstandings. It’s interesting to me that Max attains a somewhat legendary quality about him in the sense that he’s obviously almost a mythical figure to the people he influences.
Max and the Children end up breaking The Master out of Bartertown and damaging the methane refinery, before the Children leave on an airplane, while Max remains behind, fighting the forces of Aunty Entity. Later in the future we see that the Children have founded a civilization in the ruins of Sydney, Australia.
It’s weird, I don’t remember liking Thunderdome but I love Fury Road so now I want to revisit it. Fury Road really deviates from the pattern set by Road Warrior and Thunderdome. In the second and third Mad Max installment, the movies always end with a narration from the perspective of the distant future, of a people remembering Mad Max in their new civilization that they owe to him. Fury Road doesn’t do this, it ends with the birth of a new civilization (based on Furiosa’s leadership) and as she’s ascending she sees Max leaving.
I actually like the way Fury Road handles it. It’s similar to the other movies in that the leader of the new civilization thinks of Max, but I figure we don’t need the leap to the future. Not that it’s bad, but I think I don’t need to be shown twenty years in the future to know there’s hope, you can see it in the present. I think it also kind of depresses me knowing that Max is likely dead by the time of the future jump.
If the Max movies keep going as a pattern, then perhaps Max will find a city of people and get enmeshed in the politics of that city, which seems less viscerally satisfying as a giant chase movie, but George Miller has already surprised me once. I’m in. Just make the Mad Max movie and I’ll be there.