Mad Max Updates: Some fans were offended by George Miller’s claim that Furiosa could become a despot, but Beyond Thunderdome already proved this in Mad Max’s wasteland.
Many fans were offended when George Miller said that Furiosa might end up as a dictator like Immortan Joe before her, but the director already proved this in Beyond Thunderdome.
With the critically acclaimed sequels The Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome, and Fury Road, director/creator George Miller have taken a left turn into more over-the-top, post-apocalyptic sci-fi territory with the Mad Max franchise, which began in 1979 with the violent and gritty revenge thriller Mad Max.
The Road Warrior increased the scale of the series and introduced more impactful action scenes, given the fact that the original Mad Max was praised upon release for its effectively sparse production.
The Furiosa introducing Fury Road, the fourth film in the series, was also critically acclaimed, leaving only the third installment, Beyond Thunderdome, to receive a warm response from franchise fans. Although, this underrated Mad Max film based on ideas that Miller’s comments on Fury Road’s Furiosa have since reinforced.
It caused controversy when he claimed that Furiosa had a 50/50 chance of becoming a despotic ruler like her aggressively misogynistic predecessor, corrupt former general Immortan Joe. However, the director’s point — that power corrupts regardless of who wields it — was already made in the forgotten third film of the Mad Max franchise.
Before Furiosa (soon to be followed by a prequel film), the surprisingly complex villain of Beyond Thunderdome has already proven that George Miller has a point about the need for a balanced breakdown of control in any sustainable society.
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Beyond Thunderdome is a lighter film than any of its contemporaries, just as The Road Warrior is far campier and less brutally bleak than Mad Max. It’s the first Mad Max film to avoid murdering the antagonist, who in this situation is Tina Turner’s Aunt Entity.
Aunt Entity is the unquestionable ruler of Bartertown, the setting for Beyond Thunderdome, and she quickly establishes herself as the series’ most sympathetic Mad Max antagonist. Whereas Toecutter, Immortan Joe, and Lord Humungus are murderous, insane gang leaders with varying levels of power, Aunt Entity seems sincere in her declared goal of bringing order to Mad Max’s wasteland.
Immortan Joe holds an iron hand as well, but his world is cartoonishly inhuman and unequal to its people. Lord Humungus, the Road Warrior’s less powerful counterpart, doesn’t claim to be a just dictator and instead acts much like a mob boss demanding insurance money, while Toecutter, the pre-apocalypse criminal, is more like a typical low-life who takes advantage of social chaos to exploit.
Although Aunt Entity’s methods are brutal and exclusionary, Beyond Thunderdome does not portray the franchise’s only female villain as an unredeemable monster.