Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth installment of the Madmax franchise stars Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky and Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa. Set in the post-apocalyptic world, the film pits Charlize’s Furiosa against an overbearing cult leader Immortan. The film was critically acclaimed by fans and critics across the board for its glorious set pieces and high-speed chase sequences. The avant-garde George Miller production won Multiple Oscars in 2016 and a nomination for the best picture. Simply put, it is one of the greatest action films ever made.
The ingenious film however was a subject of contentious debate for its lead character. There was a chasm in between the viewers where a section of the audience believed it was about the titular character Max Rockatansky while a major faction considered Furiosa as the headlining character.
Furiosa supporters had strong reasons for their side of the argument.
First of all, In most films, Max never has a story of his own. Except for the first installment, Max pretty much becomes a part of someone else’s troubled life and makes it his own purpose to get them out of it. He is just a gypsy who helps people with their problems and leaves for his next adventure.
And secondly, the character of Max Rockatansky in Fury Road was written with Mel Gibson in mind. However, Tom Hardy was finalized for the role since the director wanted Max to look younger for this particular role. Mel Gibson’s character carried a lot of weight as his stature was that of the wasteland wizard who knew everything about the post-apocalyptic world. Considering this, he could have been a more dominating character as compared to Furiosa. But when the makers bought Tom Hardy on board, the character arc was changed bringing Max’s character on an equal level as that of Furiosa. In fact, Furiosa’s character eventually went on to gain more weight, and hence she had a bigger claim of being called the protagonist of the film. That is what even Brendan McCarthy suggested of the story.
But in the grand scheme of things, this outlook is not resounding enough to dissipate the eminence of Max’s character.
As for Furiosa, she does have a new-fangled role in the franchise. Her caliber and potential are the closest to Max himself, no doubt about that. But how can we forget the title says Mad “Max”. Furiosa’s character can be considered an important one but to think of her as superior to Max somehow seems like stretching it a bit too far. She still needs Max to get fight the villain. It’s Max who helps her complete her quest of bringing balance back to the terrorized wastelands. Max makes the plot rise above the platitudes of survival and adventure and shows what it’s like to become a part of something bigger than oneself. At it’s core the film is about the indomitable spirit of Max. So yeah, Charlize’s Furiosa is kickass and all but the protagonist is the one and only Max Rockatansky.