In the roar of an engine, he lost everything. And became a shell of a man, a burnt-out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past, a man who wandered out into the wasteland. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again...
Mad Max is a series of films that constitute the most famous things to come out of Australia since kangaroos and sexy women with accents. Created by George Miller, and starring Mel Gibson in his Australian accent as the title character "Mad" Max Rockatansky.The first film, Mad Max, is set "A Few Years From Now" at a time where scarcity of oil is beginning to cause the collapse of civilisation — law and order is barely holding on within the towns while the highways are controlled by the outlaw gangs. Max Rockatansky is a Main Force Patrol cop, held in high regard by his boss and peers, with a happy home with his wife and young son — until run-ins with the motorcycle gang led by the villainous charismatic Toecutter cause his life to fall apart. Max famously goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge at the film's climax, but by the end he has lost everything. Made with practically no money and released in 1979, the film was surprisingly successful in Australia — however, it was barely noticed in America, where it was only given limited release and all the characters' voices had been dubbed with American accents because distributors thought the audience wouldn't understand what they were saying.The second film, Mad Max 2 (retitled The Road Warrior in America), follows Max into the Wasteland that used to be Australia, where a few years later he is now Walking the Earth with his Post-Apocalyptic Dog in his Cool Car. He runs into a small ragtag group of survivors occupying an isolated oil refinery, who are surrounded and terrorised by a vicious gang of biker bandits led by the mysterious masked Lord Humongous. After at first resisting their pleas for him to help them, Max ends up assisting them in their plan for escape to the north, exorcising some of his own personal demons. Released in 1981, the film is almost unanimously regarded as better than the first — in America, where it was renamed so that people wouldn't realise it was a sequel, it was a surprise hit. Mad Max 2, a.k.a. The Road Warrior, is the film that made Mad Max (and Mel Gibson) famous.The third film, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome, is the first one to be set unambiguously After the End in the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust. Max gets stuck in power struggle in a Merchant City, and ends up as a messiah to a tribe of children. Released in 1985, this film was an American co-production and a Dolled-Up Installment: the original idea centered around a man encountering a post-apocalyptic society of wild children, before George Miller decided to have Mad Max be that man.A fourth film — a prequel, set in the time when society was just starting to collapse, called Mad Max: Fury Road — has been in Development Hell for years. It was scheduled to begin filming by the end of 2010, but was delayed due to higher-than-normal amounts of rainfall, resulting in the area around Broken Hill being too green, which forced filming to be moved to Africa. An anime adaptation was announced, but nothing has been said since then and it is believed to be shelved. Being filmed alongside Fury Road is a fifth movie called Mad Max: Furiosa, which is either a direct sequel or a side story based on Charlize Theron's character Imperator Furiosa from Fury Road. A sixth movie has also been announced, but is still in the stages of early development.A video game "adaptation" is in the works by the developers of the Just Cause games. It was originally going to be a movie tie-in game for the upcoming Fury Road, but has been made a standalone story. The general plot is that Max's beloved V8 Interceptor has been stolen by marauders, with Max working with an "idiot savant" mechanic named Chumbucket while trying to find the Interceptor with a heavily customizable car called the Magnum Opus. The game is due to be released in 2014 on the Xbox 360, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4.
The Mad Max series provides examples of the following tropes:
All There in the Manual: Max's line "May, call The Dark One" after Jessie is chased through the woods and the man they take Cundallini's severed hand to after they find it hanging from the van. Originally, he was Max's partner and May Swaisey's husband (you can still see "M. Rockatansky" and "The Dark One" on the Interceptor's fender), but for whatever reason this was left out of the finished product.
The Bait: The big rig tanker Max drives out of the compound in The Roadwarrior turns out to be full of sand. The fuel is actually being hauled in 44 gallon drums in the bus, which escapes along with the rest of the civilians while the Vermin are busy chasing after Max.
Barbarian Longhair: Many of the bad guys have grungy hair-metal mullets and in the sequel.
Max's Holden Sandman's fan belt (though being stabbed in the radiator with a piece of the fence didn't help).
Cool Car: Max's Pursuit Special, "last of the V8 Interceptors."
Cooldown Hug: In The Road Warrior, Humungus "hugs" his lieutenant Wez as he is about to go on a premature, suicidal killing spree.
Cool Pet: Dog, proving that blue heelers are fierce (the dingo blood probably doesn't hurt).
Cozy Catastrophe: According to the second film's Opening Monologue, World War III began shortly after the first film, only semi-nuclear, destroying only what was left of modern industrial infrastructure, and people using up resources that they can't replace - mostly by fighting over the resources. The third is solidly After the End, 19 years in fact.
The bikers in the first movie have distinctly homoerotic overtones, but still find time to stalk Max's wife, and are strongly implied to have gang-raped both a man and a woman whose car they assaulted.
Some of the villainous gang in the second movie were also shown raping women, though Wez in particular had an androgynous guy riding with him who was implied to be more than just a friend, and they all were dressed in BDSM-style homoerotic clothing (cheekless pants, black leather galore, lots of chains and studs, leather facial masks, etc.).
In the third movie, a lot of the bad guys are still wearing that BDSM-style clothing, and when Max claims to the manager at the trading post (who's just concluded a deal with a trapper for a night in the sack with a real woman in exchange for an animal pelt) that he's got skills to trade, the manager replies "The brothels are full."
Max's boss reaches this after Johnny the Boy walks free:
From now on, you boys can do what you like out there, so long as the paperwork's clean.
Max himself after the bikers attack his family. It takes him up until towards the end of Mad Max 2 to regain some of his humanity.
It's heavily implied that, similar to Max, Humungus was a victim of this and chose to be bad; witness his "We have all lost someone we love" speech and the picture of himself and his wife (or, possibly his parents) that he keeps with his gun. Humungus was originally going to be Goose from the first film, having gone over to the dark side, but this was cut out of the finished script.
The Determinator: Rooper who insists on chasing the Nightrider in an increasingly wrecked vehicle. All he gets is his partner permanently disabled.
Dirty Coward: The Nightrider who opens the film leading the cops on a wild chase is ultimate shown to be this after all his bluster and bragging when he plays chicken with Max - only to find that Max isn't the incompetent pushover that the other cops were and breaks down in tears as Max chases him down.
Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: After his colleagues have had a mass pile-up, the Nightrider gleefully taunts Max over the radio as the audience is treated to a montage of Max calmly starting up his Pursuit Special.
The Dragon: Wez. Arguably the most evil and most dangerous character Max confronts.
Bubba Zanetti to Toecutter in the first film. It's somewhat understated, but the only time the bikers ever manage a decent attempt to kill Max is when Zanetti sets a trap, shoots him in the knee, and tries to run him down.
Early-Installment Weirdness: The series as a whole is largely remembered for being the Trope Codifier of the After the EndScavenger World setting, complete with its Desert Punk aesthetic. The first film, however, has at best only light shades of this aesthetic and takes place before society has fully broken apart, featuring a still functional (albeit barely) infrastructure, complete with police force, running economy, law system and even television.
Eat the Dog: The Gyro Captain in the second film raises snakes as a food source as well as guards for his vehicle.
Even Evil Has Standards: In the first film, Bubba Zanetti regards Johnny the Boy with disdain for being a drug-addicted little weasel who is implied to only be kept around as Toecutter's male lover. Meanwhile, Johnny freaks out and tries to refuse when Toecutter attempts to make him burn Goose alive in his crashed car.
More literally in the first film, all the patrol cars were Ford Falcons. The Pursuit Special was a Ford Falcon coupé with a massive supercharger blower and a fascia added to the front. However, they were not supplied by Ford, but bought used from the Victoria Police department (except for the March Hare, a taxi with a straight six, and the Pursuit Special).
Failure Is the Only Option / Pyrrhic Victory: At the end of each movie, Max has won the fight but lost everything he had. To really salt the wounds, in the second and third movie Max is left in the dirt while the people he's assisted go on to better lives. Whatever pleasure Max takes from helping others is left up to the viewer.
At the end of the third movie, even the villains no longer care enough about Max to bother killing him and just leave him in the dirt in the middle of nowhere.
Gory Discretion Shot: When Max rushes to see the Goose in hospital, we see Goose's charred arm slide out from under the sheet. The camera (fortunately) cuts to Max's face as he pulls the sheet back, and his horrified reaction says it all.
Heroic Sacrifice: In the second film, Max thought he really was driving the fuel truck and had no intention of being a decoy.
Hidden Depths: The Gyro Captain. He apparently has enough to become the leader of The Great Northern Tribe.
Hollywood Healing: Averted: Max's arm and leg in Mad Max 2, and his eye in Beyond Thunderdome. George Miller, the director, was a practicing emergency medical doctor before he became a director.
Implacable Man: Max, Humungus, and Blaster. This last is a subversion.
Impractically Fancy Outfit: Yes, 'Mad' Max is wearing black leather in the scorching hot Australian Outback. This is apparently supposed to help in crashes, but Max never rides a motorcycle.
It's implied that due to the shortage of MFP officers and poor funding, all those employed there rotate between driving the pursuit Interceptors and riding the police motorcycles. Also, a cut scene was to show Max and Goose having a friendly drag race, with Max on Goose's motorcycle and Goose in Max's Interceptor.
In the first movie, all the MFP officers wear the same leather outfits, even Fifi. It may just be the standard uniform in a culture where physical violence against the police is common.
The Lord Humongous must have a major case of sunburn.
In Name Only: The video game "adaption" drops the Australian accents, setting and the company has admitted to treating it as an entirely new story instead of a Mad Max game, resulting in something that appears so far as nothing more than a generic post-apocalyptic game rather than anything resembling the Mad Max series.
Thanks to the success of a recent petition, Max at least is going to have an Australian accent. Also, interviews have suggested that the story will be standalone, but still part of the Mad Max universe, making it accessible to people who have never seen the films.
Large Ham: Just about everyone in the second two movies save Mad Max himself. The Toecutter from the first movie as well.
Laser-Guided Karma: Not content to simply kill Johnny the Boy outright once he corners him, Max ankle-cuffs the sniveling little bastard to a wrecked truck (similar to what what he and the Toecutter did to Goose) where Johnny was stealing the boots of the dead driver (whom he may or may not have killed), sets the car to explode once enough gas builds up to the lighter and leaves Johnny with a hacksaw and two options before the car explodes - hack through the cuffs (which would take ten minutes) or hack through his ankle (which would take five minutes).
Lighter and Softer: Before you say Beyond Thunderdome, Mad Max 2 is this to the terminally grim Mad Max.
Locked into Strangeness: Over the course of the last two films, Max's sideburns become increasingly faded, presumably from the horrors he has witnessed or the great stress he is always under to survive. What with the apocalypse and all...
Made of Iron: Ironbar manages to survive falling off a bridge, an explosion, and a head on collision that completely obliterates his buggy.
Malevolent Masked Men: Lord Humungus and many of his gang who wear police helmets and other assorted masks.
Mood Whiplash: The Nightrider is reduced from psychotic glee to blubbering fear after losing his Game of Chicken with Max. Justified as he is high on drugs.
Narrator All Along: The narrator of The Road Warrior turns out to be an elderly, dying Feral Child, now leader of the Great Northern Tribe.
New Old West: All of the films have structures similar to Westerns, with motorcycle gangs and post-apocalyptic marauders taking the place of Western banditos.
No Name Given: His and Jessie's son is never called any name. He's just called "sprog", an Australian term for baby.
Pappagallo: What is it with you, huh? What are you looking for? C'mon, Max, everybody's looking for something. You're happy out there, are you? Eh? Wandering? One day blurring into another? You're a scavenger, Max. You're a maggot. Did you know that? You're living off the corpse of the old world. Tell me your story, Max. C'mon. Tell me your story. What burned you out, huh? Kill one man too many? See too many people die? Lose some family?
Pappagallo: Oh, so that's it, you lost your family? That makes you something special, does it? Do you think you're the only one that's suffered? We've all been through it in here. But we haven't given up. We're still human beings, with dignity. But you? You're out there with the garbage. You're nothing.
Oddly Small Organization: The MFP seems to only have about half a dozen officers patrolling the highways. They're implied to be a hugely underfunded police force, where officers are forced to use whatever weapons come to hand and restrain prisoners with shackles.
A split-second shot of Nightrider's bugged-out eyes as his car careens into an obstruction is an unusually disturbing example.
The Toecutter has time to rip off his goggles to reveal a similar look before being hit by a truck.
Max has a moment when he nearly kills an unmasked Blaster.
Wez wears a wide-eyed, fierce, almost haka face in practically every scene, but still manages to bug out his eyes even more when he is about to get crushed between Max's tanker and Humungus's speedcar.
A Black Comedy moment when the Gyro Pilot has a shotgun wired up in his face with Max's dog holding a cord to the trigger in its mouth. At one point the dog turns its head at the sight of a rabbit running past...Gulp!
In the same movie, the Vermin pursue Max right into the compound, but they manage to close the gate after only a couple of vehicles have gone through. The driver of the third vehicle finds himself looking down the muzzle of the gate flamethrower.
One Hit Poly Kill: The first shot Max fires during the climax of The Road Warrior takes out the driver of one car, which takes out another vehicle.
Only a Flesh Wound: Averted, and how! Max get shot in the leg in first film, rendering him into limping for rest of the series.
Only Known by Their Nickname: In the sequels, the vast majority of characters go by some pseudonym. Lord Humongous, Papagallo, Toadie, MasterBlaster, Auntie Entity, Ironbar, Pig-Killer...
A look at the cast list of Fury Road shows that the upcoming interquel will be continuing this same trend.
Peekaboo Corpse: Subverted in the second film, as Max doesn't even blink when the crashed semi's long-dead driver falls out of the cab.
Pop The Tires: In The Road Warrior, Wez shoots his wrist-mounted crossbow at the tires of the Mack truck supposedly carrying the precious fuel. Since it's such a huge and powerful vehicle, it doesn't accomplish much, and the truck keeps on going despite the flattened tires.
Ripped from the Headlines: George Miller has stated that the physical injuries he observed during his stint as a medical doctor would look more plausible if set in a post-apocalyptic setting. And co-writer James McCausland was inspired by his observations of the 1973 oil crisis on Australian motorists, who would resort to violence towards anyone who tried to jump the petrol queues.
Fifi: They say people don't believe in heroes anymore. Well damn them! You and me, Max, we're gonna give them back their heroes! Max: Ah, Fif. Do you really expect me to go for that crap? Fifi: You gotta admit I sounded good there for a minute, huh?
Running The Blockade: Road Warrior has Max try to drive through the siege/blockade around the oil refinery but is intercepted and almost killed. At the end of the movie he tries again, driving the fuel tanker.
Same Language Dub: The first movie was dubbed with American voice actors for the initial U.S. release, as the original actors' Australian accents were deemed too thick. Even Mel (who's American-born and moved to Australia as a teenager) re-recorded his lines in an American accent.
The original is now available, and it's not so much the accents, which aren't that thick, but the colloquialisms which many in the US audience wouldn't have understood at the time.
Sawed-Off Shotgun: Max's signature weapon. The original script reveals he made it by modifying one of the MFP's VG Bentley shotguns.
Roop makes use of one in the first film, fixing to kill the Nightrider with it. It's probably standard MFP procedure.
Toecutter: Quit toying, Bubba! Bubba Zanetti: Easy! I know what I'm doing. (Bubba Zanetti then gets a shotgun round to the chest when he finally circles around to finish Max off)
Still Wearing The Old Colors: Max starts off wearing his MFP uniform for most of the first film, donning it for his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, possibly in order to keep innocents out of his way and gain access to the MFP's equipment. In the second film, he continues to wear the uniform, though it's in tatters and his badge is gone. In the third film, it's damaged further and he loses the jacket in the final battle.
10-Minute Retirement: Subverted; Fifi says, "Again?" when Max hands in his notice, but on realising he's serious tells him to take a couple of weeks holiday instead. Max does return, but only to steal his car for a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
Trailers Always Spoil: In video releases, the packaging revealed that Max's family are killed in the first film, and the fuel was in the bus, not the tanker in the second film.
Two-Part Trilogy: The Road Warrior and Beyond Thunderdome are almost completely different from the first Mad Max film, to the point where the sequels are rarely ever labelled Mad Max 2 or 3, and if collectors edition of the trilogy are made, only the last two movies are included. Although the recent Blu-ray collection does indeed include all three movies.
Weapon for Intimidation: Max's shotgun for most of the second movie. He uses it to bluff Wez into retreating at the start of the movie and rigs it up to keep the Gyro Captain captured. It's only when he searches some of the bodies by the autogyro and finds a single shotgun shell that we discover that the gun has been empty all along.
Once Max quits the force around halfway through the first movie, Fifi, Roop and Charlie are never seen again. Their absence may be explained by a Deleted Scene cited on the Mad Max Movies page. One scene claims that Fifi, Roop, and Charlie get killed in an attack by the bikers on the MFP headquarters. However, this footage has yet to be found.
Contrary to popular belief, Max's wife doesn't die in the first film. If you listen to the medical staff talking during Max's Heroic BSOD, the male doctor says that she'll probably survive and advises a nurse to tell Max that his wife will be alright. Because we never see her after the attack and the film ends immediately after Max goes on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, her fate is left uncertain. She's certainly dead by the sequel, however.
She's nearly dead. She's in renal failure, has multiple organ trauma, a subdural hematoma, and looks to have lost an arm at least. We even see Max walking away from her grave in the into to the second movie. Caring for her as she slowly died may have been what finally burned Max out for good.
Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: All MFP officers carry a S&W .357 Model 28 revolver at all times. This could have been very useful to Max when he dropped his shotgun while facing the bike gang.
His gun hand has just been ran over and hitting someone with a shotgun is a lot easier (especially with your off hand) than with a revolver.
You Look Familiar: It is reported that Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played the Toecutter, is returning in Fury Road as another character, though similar rumors regarding Mel Gibson have been officially denied.