Charlize Theron took the world by storm in [Mad Max: Fury Road](tag:41445) as Furiosa, badass driver of the War Rig and liberator of wife slaves. Although Tom Hardy did phenomenally as the actually mad Mad Max, Theron was perhaps the breakout star of the film, leaving people everywhere wanting more. And with the original sequel titled as Mad Max: Furiosa, could we see our favourite one-armed hero in Mad Max 2?
It's no secret that Mad Max has had a long road to the silver screen. Thanks to market crashes, budget cuts, and numerous relocations, we're seeing Fury Road an astounding 15 years later than its first conception. And with all that time to mull over plots, George Miller came up with not one, but two films.
"In order to tell this story, we came up with two others. We’ve written the screenplay of one and the novelization of another, but it’s a very rough novel. We kept working on them while we were working on other things."
The initial title has been changed to The Wasteland, casting Furiosa's appearance into doubt. But with an epic backstory conceived but not totally revealed, there's plenty for Charlize Theron to play with in subsequent films!
The road to Furiosa: originally a wife
A veteran of Hollywood, Charlize Theron is not one to take a relaxed approach to playing a character. Furiosa's story and personality was carefully crafted by both Theron and George Miller. In a tantalising interview, Theron revealed canon plot details that were not explicitly featured in the movie...
We talked about backstory, about how she ended up with no arm and that she was discarded. She couldn’t breed, and that was all that she was good for. She was stolen from this place, this green place that she’s trying to go back to. But she was kind of embedded in [the Citadel] for one thing, and when she couldn’t deliver on that one thing, she was discarded—and she didn’t die. And instead… she hid out with those war pups in the world of mechanics, and they almost forgot she was a woman because she grew up like them.
So here are our answers: Furiosa was kidnapped in order to be one of Immortan Joe's captive wives. But along the way she lost her arm and was eventually discarded, perhaps because she was infertile. A sequel could definitely explore the details of Furiosa's road to revolution: how she shaved her head and became her own kind of war boy.
If we squint, all this is evident in Fury Road. According to Theron, Furiosa's backstory rippled out from decisions about her look, how best to portray her character through costume and image. The first step, of course, was to shave her head to make her look similar to Joe's army. But most interesting are the hints we get about her origin story: instead of wearing one-piece shirts like Max and the population of the Citadel, Furiosa's torso is wrapped in some very familiar looking bandages...
Fans have theorised that this choice was deliberately made to show Furiosa's link to the wives, and Theron's interview seems to confirm this. But as clever as these visual hints are, there's still so many unanswered questions! How did she get the title of Imperator? What did she mean when she said she had done this trip "many times", and why is she seeking redemption in Fury Road?
Prequel comic: no hope for sequel film?
However high our hopes are for Furiosa's appearance in The Wasteland, at this point it may be unlikely. Although Tom Hardy has officially signed up to appear in at least two more films, there's been no word that Charlize Theron's contract is extended. And with Furiosa's eponymous prequel comic just released, could this mean this is as far as George Miller is willing to take her story?
The comic has left fans divided, as it explores Furiosa's relationship with the wives and seems to contradict a lot of what was revealed in the film. Without going into it in too much depth, criticisms have most focused on Furiosa's attitude towards the wives: instead of the distant yet caring hero we know from the film, Furiosa frequently berates the wives and even hits one of them. For many fans, accepting this as canon is difficult, and disappointing if this is the only continuation of Furiosa's plotline within the canon.
And although the Mad Max films usually use Max as a tool to tell others' stories, there has never been a character that has appeared in subsequent movies. Should Furiosa be the one to break this tradition? Considering her role in Fury Road's success, her immense fan following, and the potential for more of her history to be told, it would be great to see her story expanded. Rumours have been flying about a potential dual sequel: one for Max (The Wasteland) and one for Furiosa.
But perhaps it's time for Max to move on, and we can be content with our final view of Furiosa: wounded yet victorious, being raised into the Citadel to herald a brighter tomorrow.