Because of Mad Max: Fury Road's decent but not stellar box office haul, some thought it was all over for the Mad Max franchise even if its fourth installment was considered to be the best action movies in decades. Fury Road may have shattered expectations by winning six out of ten Academy Awards nominations, but in Hollywood, money determines sequels. Losing to Pitch Perfect 2 at the box office doesn't help Fury Road's case.
If reports are accurate, audiences will be returning to Valhalla sooner than expected. Should things pan out for director George Miller and Warner Bros., the Fury Road follow-up and Furiosa-centered prequel currently called Mad Max: The Wasteland may begin shooting later this year.
Return Of The Road Warriors
According to the some reports from Australian sources and other movie websites, George Miller and his crew are scouting for set locations in Bunker Hill, Australia. Bunker Hill was originally set to be Fury Road's shooting ground, but unforeseen rains turned the normally barren landscape into a lively field of green. This forced Fury Road to relocate its shooting to Namibia.
The Wasteland is said to be a prequel about Furiosa's life. If true, this signals a shift for the Mad Max franchise. Even if the four Mad Max films share the same protagonist, they have close to no continuity connections. Each Mad Max entry can be seen as an episodic adventure starring Max, but a Furiosa-centered The Wasteland could breathe new life into the enduring action franchise.
Rumors originally said George Miller will direct a smaller picture before returning to his post-apocalyptic world, but it seems like he had a change of heart. Miller previously said that he wants to make at least two more Mad Max movies and if given the chance, explore more of Furiosa's character. Thankfully, these hopes may come to fruition in the near future.
George Miller: Her backstory is really interesting. We only allude to it in this movie because this movie is on the run; people don’t have much time for recreational talk. But you pick up, you have a sense of her having gone through stuff. That’s what the film is trying to do. You’re trying to put a lot of iceberg under the tip, I like saying.
Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron are expected to return for their second trip in the nuclear devastated deserts of Mad Max as Max and Furiosa, respectively. Even though they initially said that they will not return for another Mad Max movie given how demanding the shooting was, the lead actors of Fury Road have expressed interest in reprising their roles.
How exactly Max will fit into Furiosa's story has yet to be seen. His character could be used as a framing device to get The Wasteland started, or the prequel could even show how he first met Furiosa since it was never explicitly said that the two never met each other prior to the events of Fury Road.
The Raggedy Prequel Blues
Before word of The Wasteland even came up, insight into Furiosa was already revealed. Thanks to the Mad Max: Fury Road prequel comics from Vertigo comics and various creators, people were able to learn more about Furiosa and what convinced her to aid The Wives in their escape from Immortan Joe.
Thing is, most critics considered Furiosa's arc to be the weakest of the four prequel stories due to its "half-assed" depictions of rape and sexually abused victims. Some even went as far to say that the Furiosa tie-in comic undid everything the character stood for in Fury Road - which says a lot since Furiosa is considered to be one of the best characters in the film.
Jess Zimmerman: [The tie-in comic] 'Furiosa' takes the movie's complex, human, vibrant female characters and flattens them down to a few drab, crummy tropes, notably by fixating on the wives' (and, it is revealed, Furiosa's) rape and mistreatment at the hands of Immortan Joe.
Questionable scenes in the comic include: the Wives (and by extension all women in Fury Road) being shown as nothing but victims, Immortan Joe depicted as a benevolent abductor/rapist, and a scene where Furiosa backhands the Wives before telling them that they should be grateful that Immortan Joe gives them a lot of material wealth despite his being their abductor/rapist.
It should be noted that Miller and Fury Road scribe Nico Lathouris did not write the prequel comics and only served as story consultants. How the guys who went out of their way to talk and consult with feminist icon/activist Eve Ensler to depict the women of Fury Road respectably let writer Mark Sexton degrade the movie's strong female characters is a mystery. At the very least, the blame is not theirs.
If Fury Road is anything to go by, those disappointed or even disturbed by Furiosa's tie-in comic can expect her prequel to be more graceful when it comes to gender politics and overall humanization if Miller returns to guide the story.
Furiosa Is Shiny And Chrome
Fury Road is praised for many things, chief among them its empowering depiction of women despite being in a movie genre commonly associated with men and raging testosterone. Not once is Furiosa's gender or disability brought up or seen as an issue since it was her actions and choices that defined who she was. Despite being a hardcore driver with her own squad of fanatical War Boys, Furiosa was always in tune with her emotions and never denied herself vulnerability when the moment called for it. It should also be noted that Fury Road is the rare action movie to not have an egregious amount of fan-service.
Long story short: Furiosa is Max's equal in pure badassery and humanity, and no one can say otherwise. For some, she even surpassed the titular character of the Mad Max franchise.
Furiosa is regarded as one the best female characters ever written for an action movie, and it would be an insult to her legacy and admirers if The Wasteland's creators choose to rely on stereotypes and negative misconceptions to depict her story. We live in different days where the gender debate is taken more seriously than ever before, and Mad Max is the unexpected ally of this progressive movement. In a time when the lackluster Ghostbusters reboot was unjustly attacked simply because of its female cast before it even hit cinemas or when Fifty Shades of Grey continues to glorify an abusive relationship, movies like Mad Max: Fury Road that beat the crap out of these demeaning stock female interpretations by means of high-octane vehicular manslaughter are more than welcome.
Whether or not The Wasteland will be focused on Furiosa, the fifth Mad Max film should do all it can to continue its predecessors' feminist statements and shatter more barriers along the way. Eve Ensler described Fury Road as a "feminist action movie," and it's about damned time we got more of that.