A long time before The Walking Dead came along and depicted a post-apocalyptic future where both fuel and ammunition are increasingly scarce, George Miller's Mad Max trilogy did it first, and with a lot more style. Set in a barren, brutal landscape where survivors cobble together whatever they can find to make clothes, weapons and vehicles, the Mad Max films followed Max Rockatansky (originally played by Mel Gibson) along his journey from family man and police officer to hardened survivalist and wanderer.
The lengthy development of the fourth film in the franchise, Mad Max: Fury Road, means that the movie won't arrive in theaters until almost a full thirty years have passed since the release of Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome. In a partial reboot of the story, Tom Hardy will take over the role of Max and star alongside Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa. Hugh Keays-Byrne, who played Toecutter in the first film, is returning as new antagonist Immortan Joe, and Mad Max: Fury Road will also star Nicholas Hoult, Zoë Kravitz and Josh Helman.
The first set of official stills from Mad Max: Fury Road were recently published in Entertainment Weekly, and the Comic Con 2014 issue of the magazine has now offered a new look as Hardy, Theron and Helman in their respective roles. Helman, who most recently played a young William Stryker in X-Men: Days of Future Past, looks almost unrecognizable under his heavy make-up as he rides a tied and muzzled Hardy on the hood of a post-apocalyptic vehicle, and Theron can be seen sporting Furiosa's heavy-duty prosthetic hand.
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Based on what we've heard about the plot so far, Mad Max: Fury Road seems to be a partial reboot set not long after the events of the first movie, with Max still dealing with the traumatic loss of his wife and child. He crosses paths with Furiosa, who is trying to make the long journey to her childhood homeland, but whose footsteps are being dogged by Immortan Joe. Of the three previous Mad Max movies, Fury Road looks most reminiscent of Mad Max: The Road Warrior, with its story of survivors seeking a better place to live and the grim image of a living person mounted on the hood of a vehicle.
Miller reportedly relied more on storyboards than a traditional screenplay, since the film doesn't feature a great deal of dialogue, but Theron said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly that she felt very well prepared for her role: "I had the longest pre-production rehearsal with a director—talking about what it was all supposed to be—that I've ever had in my entire career."
Miller has certainly had a long time to make up his mind about what kind of movie he wants Mad Max: Fury Road to be. Let's hope it manages to be the follow-up that Mad Max fans have been waiting for when it arrives in theaters.
Mad Max: Fury Road is scheduled for release on May 15th, 2015.