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Last summer, Mad Max: Fury Road won over audiences and critics alike with it’s non-stop action and refreshing characters. Most of the accolades have gone to Charlize Theron’s character, Furiosa, who carved a place for herself among the greatest action hero characters with this single film. A great deal was made about the fact that the lead character of the film was a woman, but according to writer/director George Miller it had to be that way. When what is being fought over is women, it needs to be a woman who does the fighting.
Miller says that Furiosa was born simply out of the way the story went together, and that he was interested to explore the idea of how women would survive in the post-apocalypse of the Mad Max universe. This idea led to the captive sister wives being the source of the film’s conflict. Miller tells Deadline that from there the movie only had one direction it could go:
An initial idea was to see, if the film was an extended chase, how much could people pick up on the run? And the notion being that what was in conflict was to be human, and it was five wives escaping a tyrannical warlord, and needed a female road warrior. It couldn’t be male. So there was Furiosa, and the rest followed.
The oft-repeated question of Mad Max: Fury Road is, who broke the world? The question is not hypothetical. It has an answer, and that answer is men like the warlord Immorten Joe. If that’s your villain, then it only makes sense to have a woman as your protagonist. The story doesn’t work any other way. She’s trying to do her small part to put the world back together by saving the women that Joe is keeping as slaves. The film just wouldn’t have been the same if Max had been the one doing the saving, and it’s clear that Miller had this particular message in mind while making the film.
The film has seen some, fairly minor, backlash for making women so prominent in what a small minority view as the "male" territory of the action movie. Those upset with Max’s secondary status have apparently never seen any of the other sequels to the original film, as Max is frequently cast more as witness than hero.
Furiosa is a fantastic addition not only to the Mad Max movies but to cinema as a whole. She is an able and dynamic hero, and kicked everybody's ass even without the requisite number of limbs.