The whole idea of canon in the Mad Max movies is a muddled one. They're sigils of a time long before when audiences weren't desperately pasting together a coherent continuity for fear that they might not be viewing an unbroken timeline. And of course, with the overwhelmingly pleasant reception of [Mad Max: Fury Road](tag:41445), fans have been retroactively stapling together the old Mad Max movies to appease our modern, canon-obsessed sensibilities.
The thing we have to remember about the old Mad Max films is that they were never under pressure to carry on a legacy. They were growing with each movie, with several years between each production. George Miller was free to make isolated movies that just happened to be united by the same characters and concepts. The only problem now is that, after Fury Road, everyone is expecting a worthy followup. Are we at risk of seeing Mad Max 2: The Wasteland play into a new Fury Road canon? What would that even look like? Here are a few elements that may be carried over!
An epic tone
The early Mad Max films dealt with serious stories and high stakes, but they never seemed to have that grandiosity and epic scale that Hollywood always aims for. That all changed with Fury Road, where suddenly we weren't fighting for just water and guzzoline, but for dignity, the right to rule, and the sanctity of human life itself. Those are some deep concepts that Fury Road gladly drove into, and Mad Max 2 would be hard-pressed to top that! It's almost a shame, for if The Wasteland decides to lower the stakes, and play with a much smaller story, it will be seen as a frivolous detour; Fury Road's goofy younger brother, if you will.
One big car chase
It's funny how a really good movie can sometimes ruin your conception of what other movies should be like. The older Mad Max movies have long swathes of staying in one location. The chase in Road Warrior only comes at the end, and the entire point of Thunderdome centers around one static place. That said, Fury Road does that epic, drawn out car chase schtick so brilliantly, it's hard to imagine anything else working anymore. If Mad Max 2: The Wasteland saw Tom Hardy's Max Rockatansky bedding down and getting embroiled in some post-apocalyptic political intrigue, I'd be like "what is this snail of a movie? Get moving!" I know it's an unfair reaction to have, but hey, Fury Road was so good, it sullied me.
A fight against oppression
One of the most pleasantly surprising things about Fury Road was the solid emotional core it had. There was the sense that these characters really were running from a sinister oppressive force that we could all relate to. The gendered reading of the film was the most prevalent and interesting of discourses, so I can only wonder if Mad Max 2: The Wasteland is at risk of simply being the same thing without the compelling gender politics.
You don't get much better villains than a literal embodiment of the patriarchy, so where else is there to go? Should Max help out with people fighting against racists? Or maybe poachers. Why not just cast that dentist who shot that lion as the main villain? Then have him blown up at the end of the movie. I'm sure the internet wouldn't mind that one bit!
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