Maximillian "Max" Rockatansky started his apocalyptic adventure as a Main Force Patrol officer who fought for peace on the decaying roads of Australian civilization. Max served as the last line of defense against the reckless marauders terrorizing the roadways, driving a V8 Interceptor. With the world about to crumble, Max said little and paid little awareness to his ever growing reputation as the cop that successfully put away the gangs due to his outstanding, and increasingly ruthless, driving skills. In fact, the audience is introduced to Max as he joins the pursuit of the man calling himself "Nightrider," the self-proclaimed "fuel-injected suicide machine." In order to stop Nightrider's rampage, Max rammed the man's car at top speed, sending it wheeling out of control, unto total destruction.
Max, as a symbol of civilization, was a very emotional figure whose range soared as high as laughter and comedy with friends and family, right down to fear and depression when he realized he was becoming no better than the ruthless, vicious gangs terrorizing the roads. It is through the eyes of Max Rockatansky that the overall theme of the film series, the Darwinian concept of "survival of the fittest," is classically illustrated.
Resigning from the Force Patrol, Max left with his wife, Jessie, and infant son, Sprog, for a life of solitude in the quiet countryside. But the gang, led by the cunning "Toecutter," stalked the Rockatanskys. Ruthlessly, they ran down and murdered both his son and wife before his eyes, deaths which had an obviously psychologically shattering effect on Max, transforming him into a bitter being full of hatred and anger. With his lighter emotions vanquished, Max embraced his darker side; he broke out his MFP leathers and commandeered a supercharged black Interceptor prototype called the Pursuit Special, thereby forever more becoming "Mad Max." As Mad Max, he carried out bloody revenge killings of those responsible for his family's deaths -- Toecutter and his crazy gang. Having been reduced to a shell of a man as a result of those deaths, Max then permanently left behind what little was left of this ever crumbling civilization and drove off into the desolate wasteland, apparently never to return.
The Road Warrior Approximately five years after the events of Mad Max, we find Max surviving the wastelands in solitude with the sole companionship of a dog he picked up along the way. By this time we are led to believe that all major cities and urban centers have fully fallen as Australia, serving as a microcosm of the world, has become a complete dystopia. As such Max's Pursuit Special has become his home as we watch him scavenge the wastes of the Outback for water, oil, and petrol as his daily ritual of survival. One day Max happens upon a mysterious-looking craft, an "autogyro" or "gyrocopter," sitting desolate alongside the road. As Max investigates the lonely gyro, presumably for petrol and anything else at all useful, he is surprised to be ambushed from below as a man called the Gyro Captain cleverly emerges from a depression in the ground.
This decoy-ploy worked momentarily as it seemed the Gyro Captain had outwitted Max and was about to steal his car and belongings. That was until Max's pet, "Dog," jumped the Gyro Captain, giving Max the advantage. In order to preserve his life, the Gyro Captain told Max that he knew of a place where he could get all the petrol he wanted, explaining that there was a little compound refining it straight from the ground. The Gyro Captain led him to the wasteland plains, where Max discovered the besieged group of settlers and life changed drastically again for him. With a fortress constructed out of an old oil refinery, these civilized people were constantly terrorized by a tribe of heavy metal barbarians, led by The Humungus, self-proclaimed "Lord" of the barbarians trying to overrun the wayward compound.
Abiding by the major mythological themes of good and evil, of light and dark, the compound dwellers were garbed in white and light gray, while the clothing of the post-apocalyptic horde was predominantly composed of black leather, as well as spikes and chains.
Joseph Campbell, one of the world's foremost masters of mythology, spoke of such themes variously over the years:
"One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light." - The Power of Myth
"The modern hero-deed must be that of questing to bring to light again the lost Atlantis of the coordinated soul." -The Hero with a Thousand Faces
As Max and the Gyro Captain staked-out the refinery, they witnessed several vehicles leaving the compound in an effort to escape the horde of Humungus. All of the vehicles were destroyed quickly and abruptly. Max and the Gyro Captain witnessed the occupants of one vehicle beaten, the woman raped, and the man shot with steel arrows. Max wastes no time in pouncing upon this event, seizing it as an opportunity to gain trust, entry, and especially fuel from the refinery's occupants by rescuing the injured refugees. Unfortunately, Max was able to rescue only the man, Nathan, who had been shot with arrows. Max and Nathan made a deal that if Max saved his life and returned him to the refinery, Max could fuel up and get supplies. However, upon Max's delivering the refugee to the compound, Nathan died before he could convey the pact to the settlers' leader, Pappagallo, revealing thusly, "If you had a contract, it was with him. And it died with him."
Having no bargain, the compound dwellers, suspicious of Max, treated him as a spy and an enemy, and handcuffed him to some piping. Whilst he was there, Max witnesses a confrontation between Humungus and the compound dwellers, wherein Humungus attempted to reason and bargain with them, telling them that if they walked away from the refinery no one would be killed. Of course, Pappagallo refused to believe those words, but there was internal strife among them, with some wanting to take Humungus up on his offer. Again, seeing an opportunity, Max told the compound dwellers, "Two days ago I saw a vehicle that could haul that tanker. You wanna get out of here? You talk to me." Thus, Max made a bargain to go for the tanker in exchange for all the fuel he could carry as well as some supplies.
Under cover of darkness, Max trekked across the wild outback occupied by the barbarians, at one point using a distraction by The Feral Kid to make it safely. Eventually, he got to the tanker and drove it back to the compound. However, Wez, and a few of his cohorts attacked the tanker and infiltrated the compound. The refinery dwellers, led by Pappagallo and the Warrior Woman, fought back, repelling Wez and his fellow barbarians, but Pappagallo was injured during the skirmish.
Max, having fulfilled his part of the bargain, stocked-up his Pursuit Special like a true mercenary out only for himself with the full intention of leaving. Pappagallo attempted to convince Max to stay and drive the tanker for them, to get back some of his lost humanity, but Max refused. Instead, he screamed off into the wasteland in an attempt to escape the barbarian horde and put this episode long behind him. Wez refused to allow that, though. He and other members of the gang chased Max down and attacked him, causing him to wreck the Interceptor at high speed, killing his dog and nearly killing Max, himself. His Pursuit Special was totalled and exploded into a ball of fire, thanks to the little bomb Max had booby-trapped to the tank.
Fortunately, Max had a guardian angel of sorts as the Gyro Captain, spotted a smoke tendril on the horizon. He checked it out and found Max wrecked and injured. He piloted Max back to the compound where the dwellers patched him up. At this point, with nothing in the world left at all of his ability to survive on his own, Max agreed to drive the tanker; indeed, he insisted on driving the tanker.
Mad Max in the tanker, spearheaded the escape, along with those able-bodied men and women from the compound to serve as warrior-escorts of sorts. The horde of Humungus gave chase after the tanker in a thrilling and savage rolling thunder of a battle which saw the deaths of many of the main characters from both sides to include Pappagallo, Humungus, Wez, and Warrior Woman, not to mention nearly killing Max as well. At the conclusion of this savage "road war" the tanker was wrecked and, as Max learned, proved to have been filled with dirt rather than fuel -- the daring blockade run had all been an elaborate decoy to allow the rest of the refinery dwellers to escape, having hidden the precious fuel in their vehicles, wherein, presumably, they could find a new refuge and begin the task of rebuilding society.
Max, disillusioned at having been so deceived and used in what appeared to be for nothing but a pile of dirt, was left a broken man once more; appropriately left on the blood-stained road to drift into the mists of memory merely known as the road warrior.
Beyond Thunderdome Thirteen years past the events in The Road Warrior, we find the desolate wasteland had changed Max almost completely physically, hair long, clothes reduced to scraps and shreds, and leathers battered. Max eventually ended up wandering into Bartertown.
In quick order Mad Max finds himself in trouble with Aunty Entity, the ruling Dominatrix of Bartertown. Like the running theme of George Miller's dystopian trilogy, Barter, or making deals, is the primary form of currency. Aunty Entity offers Max a deal he can't refuse -- fight Blaster in the town's arena, kill him and go free. See, Aunty Entity has a feud with the being known as "Master Blaster," actually two humans in one with Master being a little person and the brains of the Bartertown methane operation, which provides vital power to town, and Blaster, his brawny bodyguard who carries him around on his back like Luke did Yoda.
"TWO MEN ENTER! ONE MAN LEAVES!" is the bloodlusty chant that greets these neo-gladiators -- Mad Max and Blaster -- as they enter the ominous and infamous Thunderdome, Thunderdome is fittingly a no-holds-barred arena in which the famous line "Two men enter. One man leaves!" sums up the rules of battle, or specifically bloodsport created to settle differences between individuals. After all, "It's the law!" Max must honor his deal with Aunty Entity and kill Thunderdome's reigning champ, Blaster.
The two men wage a fierce fight in which blades and pikes and even chainsaws are employed as weapons, which culminates with Mad Max gaining the upper hand over his much larger opponent. However, as Max is about to fulfill his end of the bargain he realizes that Blaster is an overgrown child, a man who has been afflicted with Down Syndrome, really an innocent who has been used to nefarious ends. Max, despite his anti-hero shell, abides a higher code than "Two men enter! One man leaves!" and spares the innocent from the evil plot.
As punishment, Max was subjected to the "Wheel of Fortune" or misfortune as the case may be, and ended up being exiled into the desert for his busted deal. It was in this desert wasteland where Max was saved by a tribal settlement of lost children who believed him to be their legendary savior Captain Walker who will whisk them off to Tomorrow-Morrow Land on his large, metal bird. Max quickly dispels their cobbled myth when he explains, despite the uncanny resemblance to a crude drawing, that he was NOT this prophetic hero, Captain Walker, and that their Tomorrow-Morrow Land was nothing but a figment of their imaginations. Instead Max reveals the cold, hard truth of the dystopian state of the world, a harsh and brutal world he has struggled mightily to survive, essentially telling them they had it better in the little oasis they inhabited.
Despite Max's brutal, if not well-intended, honesty some of the older children led by Savannah Nix trek out into the wastelands in search of Tomorrow-Morrow Land. When Max is informed of their flight he leads his own group after them and just in time as his band comes across the first, wayward group while they are battling to survive quicksand. Max rescues the children, but at this point they are lost in the wastelands and closer to Bartertown than to their oasis.
At this point Max realizes that the best hope for the children, for the future of mankind, is not to allow the children to remain isolated in their oasis to eventually die off, but to help them make it to their fabled "Tomorrow-Morrow Land" where they can rebuild society anew. But in order for this to happen Max also realizes that there is someone important, much more important and useful than himself, that can help them. Thus Max, with the aid of his lost kids, venture back into Bartertown to rescue Master.
Max and company rescues Master from the evil clutches of Aunty Entity in a heart-thumping chase, yet another road war, which crescendos into a close call, yet with Max left behind to face the hard and uncertain fate of a woman scorned. But the unusual end of the trilogy should be especially noted for a couple reasons:
First, despite Mad Max's anti-hero persona, that of the rogue mercenary only looking out for himself, time and time again he ultimately abides the higher, nobler cause, whether he likes it or not, by risking his neck for others, and by being the hero. But the audience knows who Max really is, which is where the unforeseen twist appears . . .
Secondly, the ending is remarkable because out of this dystopian future that most visionaries conceive, to especially include the genius of George Miller, there is an ultimate hope for humanity. That hope is cleverly disguised in the fact that the scorned Aunty Entity, the film's main villain, allows Max to live despite his betrayal of her and despite his freeing of Master, the brains behind her operation. The optimist would say that deep down she sees Max's heroic deed as necessary for the greater good of mankind, which is where the extraordinary ending resides the villain embraces a greater good.
And once more the raggedy man, Mad Max is left to the swirling dust of the road and the distant memories of those he saved, only to be passed down in legend by the lost children and the inhabitants of the oil refinery he had rescued years before, albeit contrary to Tina Turner's smash hit song, the world needs its heroes if even they are sometimes dark.
Fury Road It is unclear where in the Mad Max canon the events of Fury Road take place, although presumably it takes place after Beyond Thunderdome.
In Fury Road, Max is heavily traumatized from past events and is left with some severe psychological issues. He hears voices in his head and is heard speaking to himself. Outwardly Max does not speak and appears almost feral. When Max does speak to others it appears strained.
Max has a solid skill with firearms, and can aim and shoot in quick succession, for example when killing members of a biker gang while driving the war rig. Max is also capable of utilizes the surrounding environment to his advantage, taking out the Bullet Farmer with a knife and tank of gas.
Max's Age Although disputed among the fan community and even George Miller himself, canon follows what Miller has said in interviews Mad Max - About 23 years old (based on Mel Gibson's age at the time). Mad Max: Road Warrior - This occurred two years after the events of Mad Max, placing Max's age at about 25 years old. Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome - This takes place fifteen to eighteen years after Road Warrior making Max about 40 years old.
Appearance One of the most iconic cult classic characters and one that sports outfits and clothes recognisable by so many, the character of Mad Max changes drastically over the years. The first film was shot on an extremely tight budget, all MFP uniforms were constructed of vinyl with plastic shoulder-caps, with exception to Max and Goose's outfits (which were made entirely out of leather)
The once immaculate MFP uniform he wore throughout the second film consists of fine, tough leather with armoured plates attached to much of the outfit. As the years progress so does the wear on the uniform. It becomes dusty and ripped in places and is missing the right sleeve where Max supposedly cut it off to help bandage the broken arm given to him, along with a shattered knee, at the end of the first film. A metal leg-brace that helps Max walk from the leg injury is seen in the second film. This brace was actually constructed of tail-gate hinges from a pickup truck, with an attached kneepad and leather straps. Eventually, Max's hair grows wild and the jacket shows evidence of even more usage. He also adorns a robe and cloak to shield himself from the desert sands.
Equipment During the first two films, Max makes use of a V8 Interceptor: a limited 351cu version of a 1973 Ford XB GT Falcon Hardtop, though he drives a different vehicle (an MFP Interceptor) earlier in the first film which is a 4door version of the XB Ford Falcon. In the third movie, after the destruction of the Pursuit Special, Max acquires a custom built 4 by 4, but having no fuel to power it, its powered by a pair of camels, which he later loses.
Max is armed with a Smith & Wesson model 28 .357 magnum revolver (as his main sidearm, which he never uses or even draws) this is the standard issue sidearm of the Main Force Patrol. Once Jessie and Sprog are killed he favours a sawed-off double barrel shotgun. The exact model is unknown, but it may be a Savage/Stevens 311A or a VG Bentley. Unmodified Bentleys are carried by other members of the MFP. The shotgun is his weapon of choice (though he gains several more during the course of his time in the wasteland) until it is confiscated upon his arrival in Bartertown. A different model of shotgun appears in each of the three movies, however, they all seem to be modified pre-1950 hammerless boxlock-action shotguns. In the second film, he is also armed with a Vietnam War-era Gerber combat knife, which he pulls several times, once on the Gyro Captain. Max is also briefly seen carrying a model 1912 Winchester early in the film.
In the third film, he is shown to have a plethora of weapons hidden on his person, including a different older sawed off double barrel shotgun, a Mauser C96 Broomhandle (very likely taken from a dead Bubba Zanetti) and several other pistols, a crossbow, and a collection of knives, all of which are confiscated.
Abilities Without any doubt, Max's natural skill is driving. He was once considered the "top pursuit man" in the MFP. These abilities later lend themselves to driving offroad, evading gangs and wreckages easily and outdriving or ramming them off the road. Max even drives a large truck despite being severely injured. He is a very capable hand to hand combatant in good physical condition.
Max's reflexes are lightning quick by the second film as he manages to capture a snake before it bites him. In the third film, Aunty Entity chose him to kill Master Blaster due to being the only one surviving her "audition".
Mechanic skills enable Max to perform minor repairs on his vehicles, and even to rig one to explode - like his Pursuit Special.
It is worth noting that a number of "Hero rules" don't apply to Max. Gunshot trauma to his left leg during the events of Mad Max is still apparent in Mad Max 2, as he walks with a slight limp and wears a leg brace, and still even wears a bandage on the knee in Mad Max 3. He has also had multiple near-death experiences almost all of which occur due to car crashes. Director George Miller had been a medical doctor prior to a film-maker, many of the injuries shown in the films are based on car-crash trauma he had treated in real life.