Why Mad Max: Fury Road's Main Character Had To Be A Woman, According To The Director

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. 

Dirk Libbey
Content Producer/Theme Park Beat

CinemaBlend’s resident theme park junkie and amateur Disney historian, Dirk began writing for CinemaBlend as a freelancer in 2015 before joining the site full-time in 2018. He has previously held positions as a Staff Writer and Games Editor, but has more recently transformed his true passion into his job as the head of the site's Theme Park section. He has previously done freelance work for various gaming and technology sites. Prior to starting his second career as a writer he worked for 12 years in sales for various companies within the consumer electronics industry. He has a degree in political science from the University of California, Davis.  Is an armchair Imagineer, Epcot Stan, Future Club 33 Member.