Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

For any discussions at all relating to the movies

Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby Taipan » Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:34 pm

I was watching Mad Max 2 again lately and I paid particular attention to one scene that was generally overlooked:

Papagallo's confrontation with Max. That is the last time we get to see Max being emotionally exposed and vulnerable. Papagallo forces Max to confront his way of living and they touch upon a subject of moving on and that everyone was hurt in the apocalypse which makes Max nobody special. It really exposes Max and shows his vulnerability, you can clearly see Max reflecting on his choices, especially after punching Papagallo. After that he's just standing there being scolded like a school boy, he's very uncomfortable.

And that's the last time we Max behave this way! I was wondering why the rest of sequels didn't feel like they had that depth of Max's character. In MMBT he was running around after kids, in FR - despite it being visually and conceptually packed, Max was reduced to an animal. I know that this is part of his journey as a man that gradually becomes feral, in MMBT he's more pissed off than anything, in FR he's really freaking pissed off, but nowhere again is he seen confronting his past. In MMBT there was only one scene that was cut out (the nightmare he had), in Fury Road they found a weird way to do that with flashbacks but that didn't work well for Max's depth, he was basically hallucinating, don't even get me started that they gave him instructions to protect his head and not get himself killed in the next 20 minutes. I'm going off my point:

You see, the thing is that in RW Max was shown still as a human being that's really struggling with what happened 2-3 years prior. That shadow of the past is all over that movie, it's a theme: Papagallo says they've all lost someone, Humungus says the same thing and Max reflecting on his actions gives us a direct link to the pre-apocalypse times. It really helps to relate and makes the post-apocalypse that much more compelling. Now, in MMBT it's all mentioned as a throwaway thing, Auntie says she was a nobody, now she's somebody, anyway you want some fruit?
The kids in the Crack in the Earth show Max pictures of the old world, Max basically says it's all gone now and we gotta live right here now, let's move on. Immortan Joe talks about raising everyone from the ashes of the old world, the Vuvalini talk about the satellites and nobody seems to care about any of it. Fury Road might as well take place in some fantasy land, there's no relation. And no amount of 'found objects' made it that more compelling to me.

Which brings me to the main point: in Road Warrior Max's behavior and confrontation with his past gave us not only a deep and complex character but also built a more compelling post apocalypse that became relatable. That thing is gone from the rest of the movies and they feel somewhat empty. It reflected in Max's character in later movies, he feels more disconnected from his tragedy with each one. I wish that emotional connection to Max's past makes a comeback in The Wasteland and not in a gimmicky way, no flashbacks, no throwaway lines about the past. The past is what made Max, if he's going to ignore that he might as well stop wandering the wasteland and join society already because there's no point to his suffering. I think we really need another look into Max's psyche and his struggles like in the Road Warrior that did it without being too preachy or packed with exposition.

Anyway, that's just my little ramble, if you think there's some merit to this idea feel free to discuss.
At last the Vermin had inherited the Earth
User avatar
Taipan
 
Posts: 1480
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 9:14 am
Location: The Wasteland

Re: Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby Turbofurball » Tue Jan 26, 2016 12:48 pm

Interesting point, though if he were to go through the same emotions in every film it would mean zero character development - in FR I didn't so much feel he was being angry, more making the long slog through mental illness ... like you say, in BT he was mostly angry at the world (and the kids), and it was only at the end he seemed to gain a little humility about that.

MM2 always gives me the feeling that above all he's weary of surviving (while also hiding from his issues), but can't seem to let go. Which feels like an organic development from his fears about enjoying the MFP circus of death in MM1, and subsequent fall from grace.
Whoever they send here, we're gonna catch 'em, we're gonna cook 'em, and we're gonna eat 'em!
User avatar
Turbofurball
 
Posts: 388
Joined: Sat May 16, 2015 5:05 am

Re: Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby Taipan » Tue Jan 26, 2016 1:02 pm

No I think it would really add to the character and made his arc and choices more transparent. Just a few days ago on Reddit someone was asking why Max decided to help the kids in the first place - that discussion is still alive because we really don't know why. If Max had some kind of moment of reflection, I don't mean a monologue to the wall in the middle of the night, just something very tiny like in the Road Warrior, we would pick up on that easily and the character would grow. I think that part of Max is missing from the rest of the movies.

I think he is going through the same emotions regardless but it's guesswork in MMBT and FR. That kind of behavior stripped Max of this very important aspect of his personality and what made him.

Another point, a really great one that you made - if he were to go through the same thing in every movie. That's an excellent point because I think Max's stay out in the wasteland is way long overdue. Brendan McCarthy knew that when he wrote Fury Road - Max was supposed to finally return. Well, now that they pumped new blood into the franchise Hardy's Max can stay tormented for another 30 years.
At last the Vermin had inherited the Earth
User avatar
Taipan
 
Posts: 1480
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 9:14 am
Location: The Wasteland

Re: Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby Turbofurball » Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:30 pm

I have to admit that in BT I always thought Max's choice to help the kids (ie. when he goes out into the desert with all the water they have to hand) was from a dogged feeling of obligation - he still seemed to have an angry air to him, right through to the decision to get off the plane.

As for FR re-jigging Max's torment, it could go that way, or his return to humanity (voluntarily giving his blood and name to Furiosa) could pave the way for interesting directions for him to come full circle and become a cop for the wastelands (in a Judge Dredd kinda way), or something equally tangential :)
Whoever they send here, we're gonna catch 'em, we're gonna cook 'em, and we're gonna eat 'em!
User avatar
Turbofurball
 
Posts: 388
Joined: Sat May 16, 2015 5:05 am

Re: Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby mahenoguy » Tue Jan 26, 2016 2:48 pm

I don't know Taipan , I recon Max seems to have a bit of a moment while the kids are doing the "Tell " in MMBT .It is no where as obvious as the confrontation with Pappagalo in MM2 , but you do see max kind of squirming at the start , but by the end of the Tell he seems almost in awe of their history . Why Max helped the kids is( I feel ) the same reason he drove the tanker ,the same reason he didn't kill blaster or would feed a dog or a monkey....he is desperate to reconnect , but his madness and the brutality of the wasteland just push him further away every time he tries . To ignore the linear issues with Fury Road for a second , I think the most vulnerable we ever see Max throughout the whole franchise is while he's hold furiousa's head at the end ....against his own advise he is left with nothing but hope .
User avatar
mahenoguy
 
Posts: 178
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:00 pm

Re: Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby Taipan » Tue Jan 26, 2016 3:13 pm

mahenoguy wrote:I think the most vulnerable we ever see Max throughout the whole franchise is while he's hold furiousa's head at the end ....against his own advise he is left with nothing but hope .


Damn I completely forgot about that one. It's true, he is pretty exposed in that scene, he seems to recall who he is and has a moment of reflection/clarity. Well then, my whole theory just went to shit. Either way, There seemed to be more of that in Road Warrior and I'd like to see more of it in future Mad Max movies because the last thing we want is to turn Max into a generic action hero that goes around doing stuff without any motivation.
At last the Vermin had inherited the Earth
User avatar
Taipan
 
Posts: 1480
Joined: Mon Feb 09, 2004 9:14 am
Location: The Wasteland

Re: Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby Mad Serge » Tue Jan 26, 2016 7:46 pm

On the contrary, I found Max's behavior believable : he is moving on. By the way, the story is about building a new civilization who isn't about the law of the strongest like MM2. Don't forget the saxo scene who is subtle.
Mad Serge
 
Posts: 26
Joined: Tue Aug 19, 2014 12:16 pm

Re: Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby MWFV8 » Wed Jan 27, 2016 2:47 am

Great post Taipan :)

RoadWarrior seemed to hit the sweet spot for a character like Max. Because the film was built on such a solid story, it finds time to really hit that inner despair before setting up the final act. It's in that scene you describe that we finally come to terms with the concept that there is no winning in an apocalyptic world, there is just surviving physically while slowly dying emotionally. Everyone, even the antagonists, are just running from the madness brought on by horror. We have to remember that the scene with Pappagallo is appended by Max's interaction with The Feral Kid, who represents a whole new generation. After physically silencing his emotions from the past and choosing not to help the Compound Dwellers survive, he also shoos away The Feral Kid like a stray dog, and leaves. This is a huge moment because Max isn't being selfish like Pappagallo implies, he just doesn't believe there is any future for good people anymore. This in turn builds the emotional mechanics needed to get over how merciless, brutal, and seemingly unheroic the deaths in the final chase are - these are people fighting for a belief at any cost and with little to lose.

Thunderdome kind of repeats the same theme. Max turns his back on the generation lost at Barter Town and, after stumbling upon the Crack In The Earth and learning how determined those kids are to preserve the learning of their ancestors, sees some hope in them. This sets up his need to save them and lead them away from the influence of Auntie. Which he does badly by trying to use the fear of death to scare them, while also piquing their curiosity about Barter Town. But, since it's more of a movie, and Max is so much more vocal, it doesn't really get as dark, even when one of the kids slips through his fingers into death. In a way, this helps hammer home two opposed views about how society should be rebuilt - Auntie believes commerce and strict laws build a society, but we see that Barter Town is little more than a literal cesspit on which corrupt politics, injustice, and vices are built on. Max clearly counters that view by wanting to keep the children away from it. However, Max just doesn't get stripped back enough as a character. The story mechanics just aren't there to do it, the voice the contrasts his (Auntie) isn't present to help bring it out, his personal loss isn't highlighted, and he finds himself somewhere perfect. It's messy, and I suspect it's messy because I believe a lot was lifted from the earlier RoadWarrior concepts and the tone is all over the place.

Fury Road is a tough one to judge at this stage since it Max's story clearly isn't standalone. However you can see some of the mechanics there with the loss of the unborn child, Nux, and the War Pups. All of this effectively builds Furiosa as a saviour in Max's mind. If he can get her back to the Citadel, then she can use her strong moral compass, determination, and leadership to mother a new generation with the right values. I use the term mother since a key element shown in Fury Road is how the Citadel systematically strips the natural nurturing of mothers (breast feeding) from raising children. However, a lot of this is lost behind messages about the environment, dictatorships, and heaps of action. In my opinion, a key mistake was either making Nux too old or failing to show more of the indoctrination at the Citadel. It was also a mistake to show Max leaving Furiosa and The Five Wives for dead so early on, with no mechanics in place to justify it. I feel Fury Road would have worked better if, before the final act, Furiosa had reacted with complete anger and Max's emotions had flooded out. All he would have had to do is sit there and shed a tear - showing us he did hope Furiosa was right deep down. This could have caused some of the Vuvalini, The Five Wives, and Furiousa to draw more out of him about his personal loss. Furiosa could have then torn into Max, kicking him while he's down as she vents her own anger before effectively turning into him and roaming the wasteland. Max could have then, rather than negotiating and reasoning with her, chased her down, locked her in the hold of the War Rig with Nux and charged back toward Immortan Joe's army. While in the hold, and talking to Nux, Furiosa could have worked out Max's goal and realises that they are now the precious cargo.
"Wrong, we fight for a belief. I stay."
User avatar
MWFV8
 
Posts: 1089
Joined: Sat May 15, 2004 2:06 pm

Re: Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby mahenoguy » Wed Jan 27, 2016 4:56 am

Holy Crap MWFV8.....from trust to tears to anger to betrayal . Your max sounds messed up enough for another 10 sequels ! You make a good ( if subtle ) point in that mental health issues are not always a journey of healing....they usually tend to be more cyclic , especially when the environment doesn't improve .I don't know why we would expect Max to be recovering when his world is "Fire & Blood ". If I had to pinpoint my favourite thing about Fury Road , it is that Hardy's Max has digressed deeper into madness , a completely different direction to where Mel's Max was heading , perhaps suggesting he is in an endless cycle of recovery/tragedy/relapse .
User avatar
mahenoguy
 
Posts: 178
Joined: Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:00 pm

Re: Max a weaker character since Road Warrior?

Postby Turbofurball » Wed Jan 27, 2016 9:21 am

MWFV8 wrote:I feel Fury Road would have worked better if, before the final act, Furiosa had reacted with complete anger and Max's emotions had flooded out. All he would have had to do is sit there and shed a tear - showing us he did hope Furiosa was right deep down. This could have caused some of the Vuvalini, The Five Wives, and Furiousa to draw more out of him about his personal loss. Furiosa could have then torn into Max, kicking him while he's down as she vents her own anger before effectively turning into him and roaming the wasteland. Max could have then, rather than negotiating and reasoning with her, chased her down, locked her in the hold of the War Rig with Nux and charged back toward Immortan Joe's army. While in the hold, and talking to Nux, Furiosa could have worked out Max's goal and realises that they are now the precious cargo.

That would have been great, but maybe would have made for a 5 hour long movie ;)
Whoever they send here, we're gonna catch 'em, we're gonna cook 'em, and we're gonna eat 'em!
User avatar
Turbofurball
 
Posts: 388
Joined: Sat May 16, 2015 5:05 am

Next

Return to General Movie Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests