Mapping the Future of the ‘Mad Max’ Franchise

George Miller has kept his sequel ideas close to the vest, but he’s spilled a few clues here and there.
Mad Max Fury Road
Warner Bros.
By  · Published on July 28th, 2019

The last time George Miller was in the news for Mad Max movies, it wasn’t for positive reasons. Since 2018, the director and Warner Bros. have been butting heads over unpaid bonuses Miller is allegedly due for keeping Fury Road under budget. When court battles happen, working relationships mostly fall apart. Afterward, movies don’t get made.

The lawsuit is still ongoing, but Miller hasn’t ruled out making more Mad Max movies with the studio. Speaking to Indiewire, he said that there are plans for more sequels, as well as a spinoff chronicling the adventures of Fury Road‘s breakout female character.

“There are two stories, both involving Mad Max, and also a Furiosa story. We’re still solving, we’ve got to play out the Warners thing, it seems to be pretty clear that it’s going to happen.

The sequels have been in development for years now. In 2011, Miller told Financial Review that he hoped to make two more installments after Fury Road. In 2015, he told Digital Spy that the working title for the Fury Road sequel is The Wasteland, while also teasing a story where Max and Furiosa’s paths cross again.

“[Furiosa’s] not in the Mad Max [sequel] story, but in one of the stories there’s an interaction between [Max and Furiosa]. I can’t really say more than that because it’s still in progress.”

Miller shared more news about his plans in 2016. Appearing on an Entertainment Weekly podcast, he confirmed that a Furiosa spinoff was on his agenda, which could delve deeper into her backstory.

In fact, the Furiosa movie is currently the only planned film that offers any indication of what the story might entail. In Fury Road, she briefly returns to her home — The Green Place — and reunites with her old tribe, the Vuvalini. It’s a brief exchange, but it’s one that invites further exploration. She also takes over the Citadel after helping dispose of its patriarchal regime. There are options here.

Miller already abandoned plans for a Furiosa movie back in 2009, when Fury Road was stuck in development hell. He envisioned an anime companion film based on the character, but the project never made it past the concept design stages. Furthermore, given that some of the film’s ideas were included in a poorly received Mad Max: Fury Road comic book series about her time in the Citadel, it’s unlikely the spinoff will incorporate them into proceedings.

That said, due to the overwhelmingly positive response to Charlize Theron‘s portrayal of the Imperator, the future of Furiosa appears to be in a live-action format — and it still might be a prequel. According to actress Joy Smithers, who played one of the Vuvalini in Fury Road, she read a script for a movie which features her old tribe prominently.

Her solo film may revisit Furiosa’s past — way before she joined the Citadel. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine a movie in this particular franchise revolving entirely around an origin story after already introducing us to the character. A story that takes place in the present while filling in some life gaps seems more likely.

Perhaps she’ll try to spread the Citadel’s resources throughout the post-apocalyptic land in an attempt to rebuild the world. Alternatively, now that she’s in control of the base, she might become a sitting target who’s forced to thwart off a new batch of enemies.

Max’s future, meanwhile, is harder to predict. Miller and co. have kept pretty hush about the lone crusader’s upcoming adventures, only promising that they’ll be “tangentially linked” to each other. Of course, all a Mad Max movie needs to be is an anthology tale featuring our hero stumbling into a crazy situation and saving the day. He’s a vehicle to explore the imaginative and unpredictable world these stories take place in — anything is possible.

With Fury Road, Miller continued to portray Max as a nomad. Therefore, the future sequels will probably see him wander into fresh uncharted territory and encounter trouble. In the previous movie, we see hints of the buried cities and dusty regions that encompass the sandy terrain of the Wasteland, but the film alludes to a bigger world out there, waiting to be discovered. Who knows what kind of horrors dwell there…

The comics did give readers a taste of the Wasteland — it’s a place of sunken cities, savages, and more gladiatorial combat taking place in Thunderdomes. Maybe the sequels will bring some of these ideas and locations to the screen, but I doubt Miller will want to adapt established material. He’s spent years realizing this universe and has no shortage of ideas at his disposal.

The beauty of the Mad Max franchise is that all four movies have been different from each other, but have still managed to maintain some semblance of continuity. They’re akin to folk tales and pulp stories about wandering heroes who help the helpless. Whichever directions the sequels take, this tried and tested formula shouldn’t change.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.