So it turns out that Mad Max: Fury Road is way better than Jurassic World.
In this corner we have Indominus Rex. The Indominus Rex is a genetically engineered dinosaur (technically all Jurassic World dinosaurs are really) designed to draw mass appeal by being bigger and scarier than other dinosaurs. Unfortunately, it also develops super powers and goes on a rampage around Jurassic World, killing people in its path.
And in Fury Road we have Immortan Joe, a God-King obsessed with breeding the perfect human being. Immortan Joe has an army of mutant War Boys and a fortress called the Citadel from which he rules. He’s forced to lead out his army to recover his lost wives.
The thing is, Indominus Rex is actually the victim of Jurassic World. She was created by scientists to be monstrous solely for the entertainment value. She was then locked up and isolated from the world for her entire life. It’s not her fault that she’s exactly what her creator’s wanted her to be, in that sense she’s a tragic character. The movie plots her rise up to freedom and revenge, then follows her being beaten down and killed by other dinosaurs. In retrospect Indominus Rex has more in common with the heroes of Fury Road than the actual heroes of Jurassic World. She’s a character struggling for agency in a world that has imprisoned her and our heroes must beat her down.
Jurassic World is about a world that is thrown out of whack and the desperate struggle back to the status quo. Immortan Joe, on the other hand, IS the status quo, and it’s about the desperate struggle to break out of it. So in a way the two movies are opposed. By the end of Jurassic World, the park is abandoned, but the forces that created the park are still very much in place. By the end of Fury Road, God is dead and his corpse is strapped to the hood of that truck. Things will never be the same.
In Jurassic World there’s Claire who is superficially analogous to Furiosa. Claire is the executive who runs Jurassic World, serving the wealthy Masrani in a way not dissimilar to how Furiosa is the Imperator of Immortan Joe.
Only there’s one immediate and vital difference: Claire never rebels against Masrani and the forces behind Jurassic World. She’s content in her role and in Jurassic World. The only problem Claire has is somehow integrating in her family in such a way to please her sister. Claire really isn’t the Furiosa of the movie because, it turns out, Idominus Rex is Furiosa. Claire simply isn’t furious enough.
Claire also suffers as kind of the butt of the jokes throughout the movie. She abandons her post as the head of the park to go rescue her nephews (which she really doesn’t succeed in doing), which kind of renders the human “villain” of the movie into a much more positive light. The only thing she really seems to acquire by the end of the movie is (a) a boyfriend and (b) a newfound respect for the concept of family.
Whereas Furiosa breaks free of a monstrous system, rescuing people as she does so, and then, later, turns around and takes the fight back to that system. It would be as if Indominus Rex managed to escape the island, but then goes back to free the island from humans.
#3. The Maxes
Owen is probably the closest thing you get to Max in Jurassic World. Objectively, Owen is kind of a smug self-satisfied guy who harasses Claire and trains velociraptors. It’s kind of funny that it’s Owen who talks about trust and respect in relationships with velociraptors, but doesn’t respect Claire at all. Owen is an ex-military velociraptor trainer. He gets to be the guy in the movie whose warnings get dismissed out of hand by the people in power, then he’s the guy who gets to do cool action hero things in the movie.
Max, on the other hand, is a former policeman who has been adrift in the Wastes. All he wants to be is left alone. He’s an incredible jerk at the beginning of the movie, clearly willing to let people die (though it’s important to note that the one person you’d think he’d 100% kill is Ucks and he doesn’t), but later comes around to helping them fight for freedom and redemption.
Both Max and Owen start off their movies as kind of outsiders and antagonists. But whereas Max is redeemed through his actions, Jurassic World thinks Owen is just fine. I suspect that the people who gave the initial outcry about Fury Road and it’s feminist agenda would have found Owen and Jurassic World to be much more satisfying. Owen is basically always right (or so assumes the movie) even when he’s wrong. Owen also, like Claire, is happy in the world he lives in. He also serves as a romantic interest for Claire, but I didn’t really buy into that throughout the course of the movie.
Max isn’t a love interest, and you get the sense that Max can never be a romantic interest for anyone. Owen is a good guy in a way that’s easy to be the good guy. He doesn’t lose anything by being the good guy and he gets the girl! It’s much harder for Max to be a good guy, and he does it for much less. All Max gets by the end is the satisfaction in knowing that hey, maybe he’s a little redeemed.
By that I mean that Owen doesn’t have to fight himself. Owen doesn’t have to fight the world. All Owen has to do is fight rebellious dinosaurs that will, at worst, kill him. Max has to fight his desire to survive and he has to fight against all of what remains of civilization in his world. What awaits Max is at best death, but probably a long torturous existence that he can never escape. At the end of the movie, Owen gets to go home and hang out with his girlfriend. At the end of Max’s movie he has less than he started with at the beginning of the movie.