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What to Remember From Mad Max: Fury Road Before Watching Furiosa

Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa in 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga'

Nearly 10 years after Mad Max: Fury Road secured its spot in the canon of all-time great action movies, Australian filmmaker George Miller has returned with a prequel that transports viewers back in time in the Wasteland.

With Alyla Browne and Anya Taylor-Joy playing younger versions of Charlize Theron’s character in Fury Road, Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, in theaters May 24, traces Furiosa’s ascension from a prisoner of the warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) to one of the fiercest road warriors serving under the tyrant Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme in Furiosa and the late Hugh Keays-Burne in Fury Road).

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Like Fury Road, Furiosa takes places in a post-apocalyptic Australia ravaged by a nuclear war fought over oil and other resources. Despotic rulers reign with an iron fist over the brutal remnants of civilization, while savage biker gangs roam the desert scavenging for fuel and anything else they can find. As lord of the Citadel, a fortress built on top of a natural aquifer, Immortan Joe rations out water to a desperate populace while he and his inner circle live luxuriously above the fray. His cult of “half-life” War Boys worship him like a god, ready to die on his behalf at any moment, while higher-ranking officers drive decked-out War Rigs across the Wasteland to trade water, crops, and other supplies for “guzzolene” and ammunition at the nearby strongholds of Gas Town and the Bullet Farm.

Furiosa explores how its titular heroine rose to the rank of Imperator and came to drive the War Rig she uses to smuggle Immortan Joe’s prized female sex slaves—his so-called “Five Wives”—out of the Citadel in Fury Road. Here’s what to remember from Fury Road and the Mad Max universe as a whole before seeing Furiosa.

Read More: George Miller Can’t Quit Mad Max

What do we already know about Furiosa?

Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa, Tom Burke as Praetorian Jack, and Chris Hemsworth as Dementus in 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga'

Since Miller had already developed an origin story for Furiosa while making Fury Road, the 2015 movie revealed a number of major details about her life leading up to that point in time.

“In order to tell the story of Fury Road we had to understand everything about what we see on the screen. Not only the backstory of every character, but every prop, every vehicle,” Miller said of his process at CinemaCon 2024. “We wrote the story of Furiosa in the 15 or 16 years of her life before we meet her in Fury Road, we wrote a story about Max in the year before he got there and so on. They ended up being a screenplay and one was a novella. We did it just for the actors and the crew so they could understand it.”

We know that Furiosa was abducted as a child from a hidden, matriarchal oasis known as the Green Place of the Many Mothers—a tribe of women also referred to as the Vuvalini. Furiosa’s mother died three days after she was kidnapped and Furiosa spent the next 15 or so years fighting to survive and return home. At some point during that time period, she lost the majority of her left arm and replaced it with a MacGyver-ed claw prosthetic.

In Fury Road, Furiosa makes her long-awaited break for the Green Place with Immortan Joe’s wives in tow, only to learn that the once-fertile land had soured and the majority of the Vuvalini were dead. Furiosa’s crew then battled their way back to the Citadel, killing Immortan Joe in the process and setting in motion a new era in the Wasteland.

As for young Furiosa’s relationship with her captor Dementus, Hemsworth told IGN that his character views her as a sort of replacement for his dead children. “We get a little insight into his backstory that he has lost someone as well at some point,” he said. “I think he sees a strength in her that is familiar [and reminds him of] his own children. In his eyes, he believes that he is preparing her for the Wasteland. He’s trying to ‘toughen her up,’ as he says.”

However, Furiosa doesn’t see things the same way, according to Taylor-Joy. “Does Furiosa love Dementus?” she asked rhetorically. “Nope.”

When is Furiosa set within the Mad Max universe?

Anya Taylor-Joy as Furiosa in 'Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga'

While the events of Furiosa directly precede those of Fury Road, given the timeline inconsistencies between Fury Road and the original Mad Max trilogy, the 2015 movie is meant to serve as more of a spiritual sequel to/reboot of the first three movies in the saga.

In 1979’s Mad Max and 1982’s Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior, starring Mel Gibson as the titular Max Rockatansky and set in the mid-1980s, Earth is still on the brink of total collapse. At the start of the first movie, a global oil crisis has sparked social and economic breakdown. In the second movie, society has crumbled, but the world hasn’t yet been decimated. It isn’t until sometime between the events of The Road Warrior and 1985’s Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, set around 15 years later, that the nuclear apocalypse takes place.

However, a Max Mad: Fury Road comic book prequel series released to coincide with the 2015 movie, which recast Tom Hardy as Max and is hinted to take place around 2050, retcons a number of aspects of the franchise. In the new timeline, the nuclear apocalypse took place right after the events of the first Mad Max, with Hardy’s Max having fled out into the Wasteland as fallout and contamination spread across the Earth sometime after 2015.

Going forward, Miller has said he’s interested in returning to the Mad Max universe with a film tentatively titled Mad Max: The Wasteland that would be “tangentially linked” to Fury Road.

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