WTFAW: Mad Max

If you’ve read my blog for any amount of time or (god help you) had a prolonged conversation with me, you will know that I have a certain fondness for Fallout.

I don’t know why, but something about a post-apocalyptic environment appeals to me. Couple it with my love for science fiction and, in the case of Fallout: New Vegas, my weakness for old west weaponry, and you’ve got a match made in heaven

So with that in mind, I suppose it’s not really surprising that I really enjoyed Mad Max and it’s sequels. Even before I watched them (which was almost embarrassingly recently), I’d of course heard the name, and knew the general concept. And after watching them, I thought they were pretty good movies.

This lead to me even more recently watching Mad Max: Fury Road. And unsurprisingly, I really enjoyed it. Great action, good acting, memorable quotes, memorable characters and good writing. All this, plus the amazing attention to detail and the overall passion clearly going into making it results in making it one of my favourite movies.

Dave: And I’ve got a fan theory about that movie! Great, isn’t it?

Oh, sure. Absolutely fabulous! Really! Don’t let my sarcastic tone fool you. Nothing could possibly make me happier than hearing a fan theory about this movie…

Dave: Right! The theory is that Max in “Fury Road” is actually the Feral Kid from “The Road Warrior”!

Ok, I’ll bite. Tell me the arguments.

Dave: There are plenty of arguments to support this. When Furiosa asks for his name, Max just gives her a blank stare, and it’s only towards the end when he, hesitatingly, says “Max. My name is Max”. That could mean it’s not his real name, and he only then decided to appropriate it, inspired by the man he met in his youth.

I see.

Dave: Then there’s the flashbacks Max is suffering in the movie, being haunted by people we don’t know. It isn’t anyone we see in the previous movies. They don’t add up with the things we see in movies 1-3.

Uh-huh.

Dave: And, of course, there’s his limited dialogue. Most of his “dialogue” is done through grunting or growls. This is very similar to The Feral Kid, who didn’t speak.

Is that all?

Dave: Not quite. I have one last trump card left, but I’ll keep that in the unlikely event those arguments won’t be enough.

Right. Let’s go trough these in turn, shall we?

First off, you say that Max reveals his name with hesitation, like it’s not his real name. Are you forgetting the opening narration, given to us by Max? What is literally the first thing said in that narration?

My name is Max

There’s no hesitation, no doubt, no “my name does not matter”. He states his name is Max to us, the audience, through internal narration. His reveal of his name to Furiosa is not intended as him “accepting” the name or, as some suggested, as a dramatic reveal. It’s intended to signal that he opens up to someone else to the point where he reveals his name.

This also addresses his grunting throughout the movie. It’s clear to us throughout this movie that, due to unknown circumstances and misadventures, he has gone off the deep end, psychologically.

This means him revealing his real name could be seen as a sign of him getting closer to reality, sanity and humanity.

As for the hallucinations, all they tell us is that something traumatic has happened in the past for this person. It’s not like they make more sense if we assume the person having them is the Feral Kid than if it’s Max.

Then, of course, there’s the problem that we know what became of The Feral Kid in The Road Warrior. He grew up and never saw Max again, eventually becoming the chief of his tribe.

Dave: Well, many tribes will require their prospective leaders to go on spiritual journeys or pilgrimages to prove their worth. Maybe this movie takes place during that journey?

I suppose it’s true that some tribes do that. However, do you remember the tribe from The Road Warrior? Their whole point was that they controlled an oil refinery. They were into big guns, hockey pads and flamethrowers. They weren’t terribly spiritual.

Also, who took over the tribe after the chief died in that movie? The Gyro Captain. Truly the most spiritual and pure member of the tribe!

I’d say that covers most of it, apart from that “trump card” you mentioned. So I’m curious. What is it?

Dave: Right! Here’s the trump card. In The Road Warrior, Max gives the Feral Kid a handwind music box. In Fury Road, we see the music box again! The Feral Kid kept it! This proves he’s the Feral Kid!

Was that all? It’s not much of a trump card, seeing as it doesn’t work. You want to know why?

First of all, the music boxes look different, with the one in Fury Road having a wooden plate underneath it. Secondly, the music box given to the Feral Kid was played by turning the handle clockwise. The one in Fury Road was wound counter-clockwise. Thirdly, the first music box played “Happy Birthday”. The second music box is hard to hear, but whatever the melody is, it’s clearly not the same tune.

And of course, lastly:, who said the music box belonged to Max? We only see it once in the movie, used by Toast, one of the wives. There is no indication Max gave it to her. For all we know, one of the Vuvulini gave it to her, or she found it in the war rig, or she had it while in Joe’s vault.

All those sound more convincing, considering Max was captured, tattoed, had surgical tubing stuck into his neck and his car stolen and modified. I’m guessing whatever he had in his jacket or trouserpockets would be stolen as well.

So no, it’s not the Feral Kid. You see my reasoning?

Dave: Hmm… I suppose…

However, you might be right about one thing

Dave: I am? Really? What is it?

That it’s not the same Max.

Dave: What? But… you spent all this time explaining…

I’ve explained why it’s not the Feral Kid. I also said that he calls himself Max. But “Max” is not a unique name. Somewhat uncommon, perhaps, but not unique. Just because his name is Max doesn’t mean he’s THE Max.

Dave: Are… are you suggesting that someone else, with a Ford Falcon, named Max, is also driving around the wasteland?

Sure. I don’t see why not. The Ford Falcon was very common in Australia before the end of the world. It was the standard pursuit vehicle of the MFP. Modifying one would be tricky, but not impossible. And seeing as the original BLEW UP in the second movie, I think it’s safe to say that it’s not the same car.

Dave: Wait a minute. I thought you hated fan theories!

What!? Of course not! I have nothing against fan theories! I’ve even constructed a fan theory of my own about The Hobbit! If I went out and said I hated all fan theories, that would make me an enormous hypocrite!

What I dislike are LAZY fan theories. I dislike when people don’t put effort into them.

I’ve explained the formula for a bad fan theory before. A bad fan theory twists facts to suit its purposes. A good fan theory adheres to facts and changes accordingly. If you create a theory that doesn’t add up, I will talk about it. But if you put effort and care into it, I won’t argue with it.

With this theory, there is of course the problem with Max referring to himself as a cop, and the credits referring to him as “Max Rockatansky”, but I maintain that, with the facts presented in this movie, it cannot be the same Max in Fury Road as in the first three movies.

Dave: Why not?

Well, in the first movie, while they never specify his age, Max cannot be younger than 20. Seeing as Mel Gibson was 23 at the time of its release, I’m going to say Max was in his early 20’s.

When Max is captured in Fury Road, they tattoo information onto his back. His blood type, his mental state (which is categorized as “psychotic”) and the status of his genitals, eyes and limbs.

And at the very top, they write “Day 12045”.

12.045 days. That’s just under 33 years. Specifically, it’s 32 years, 11 months and 20 days. Since it’s unlikely they’d be able to tell Max’s age to the day, we can assume that this is referring to the day he was captured. And we can also assume that this is counting from when the Citadel was established. Either that, or it’s counting from when the world ended in nuclear destruction.

Director George Miller, in the art book for the movie, suggested it takes place roughly 45 years after the end of the world.

Whatever the case, it would mean Max would be about 55 years old in this movie (or 68, if we were to take George Millers word as gospel). Since he’s not, this cannot be the same Max as in the first three movies.

Be it someone else named Max and this is a coincidence, someone taking up the mantle like a post apocalyptic Batman Beyond or just Max Rockatansky in a separate continuity, it is not possible that it’s the same Max in all four movies.

Either that, or Max has become immortal and perpetually in his late 30’s. Not that it would surprise me. That tribal shaman magic is freaky shit…

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