Mad Max fans may be saddened to hear that current series star Tom Hardy could leave to be the next 007, but this could be good news for the franchise.
Fans of George Miller’s high octane series Mad Max may have been saddened to hear that current series star Tom Hardy is looking likely to be the next 007, but this could be good news for the franchise. Since beginning in 1979 with the sparse, brutal revenge thriller Mad Max, the series has survived four dramatically different cinematic outings, all of which were directed by George Miller – the same man who is otherwise known for making family-friendly films Babe and Happy Feet. Miller’s diverse range has come in handy throughout the Mad Max franchise, as the series swung from a bleak, grounded revenge thriller, to a more fantastical post-apocalyptic adventure.
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Most recently, 2015’s critically acclaimed Fury Road was a hugely successful post-apocalyptic chase thriller that introduced audiences to Tom Hardy’s jittery iteration of the title character. Ranked by both fans and critics as the best Mad Max movie ever, Fury Road left audiences desperate to see more from Hardy’s version of the eponymous madman. However, the recent news that Hardy may be playing James Bond once Daniel Craig retires from the iconic role could leave the Mad Max franchise at a loose end.
Or so it would seem, at least. The news that Hardy may be busy playing the role of James Bond in the near future could be great for the Mad Max franchise, despite how enjoyably unhinged the Bane actor’s performance was in Fury Road. Without Hardy’s Mad Max at its center, subsequent movies in the series can focus on other characters from the franchise like Charlize Theron’s Furiosa, not to mention potentially bringing in a new actor to take on the role (or better yet, bringing back a familiar face for the part of Max).
Fury Road Was Furiosa’s Movie
The news that the Mad Max franchise may soon be missing its title character isn’t a cause for concern the way that, say, a Wolverine movie without Hugh Jackman or a Deadpool installment sans Ryan Reynolds would ring alarm bells among the fandom. Already Fury Road was a Mad Max movie that where the title character took a literal backseat, a strategy that paid off well for the franchise. Fury Road barely used Max as more than an audience insertion persona, and the movie’s massive success proves that the fourth film was better for this approach.
Audiences and critics alike loved Furiosa, as well as the movie’s sprawling mythos, and it’s clear that fans want to see more from Miller’s world even if Max is absent. Already Furiosa has been granted a spin-off movie with The New Mutants standout star Anya Taylor-Joy in the main role, and the possibility that Hardy may not be able to return as the title character doesn’t mean that the series can’t continue to delve into its mythology for more stories.
This Could Mean More Spin-off Movies
If Hardy does take on the role of Bond and his fuller slate means that the actor’s version of Max is officially out of commission, this could provide more room for Mad Max Extended Universe stories. The aforementioned upcoming Furiosa movie proves there’s sufficient interest, but between Immortan Joe, the denizens of The Road Warrior, and even the original film’s pre-apocalypse outback thriller setting, there are countless stories that could come from a more immersive and less singularly focused Mad Max series.
The original 1979 Mad Max is drastically different in style and tone from later movies in the series, as it is set before the end of the world and as such has a more grounded, naturalistic feel than the later installments. Dropping Max himself as the focus of the movies could allow Miller to return to this more realistic setting and offer a less fantastical story still set in the Mad Max universe. It could even allow the series to finally depict just how its apocalypse occurred onscreen, something only ever hinted at somewhere between the events of Mad Max and The Road Warrior.
Or Another New Max
Outside of further spin-off films, there’s also always a chance that Miller can replace Max’s actor again. Countless stars would no doubt jump at the chance to take on the iconic role, particularly when Fury Road like the original Mad Max was met with universal acclaim, and the vast difference between Gibson and Hardy’s wildly divergent versions of the character means there’s room for further interpretation of just who Mad Max is as a character.
The possibilities of recasting Max are endless, as a younger actor could pick up from after the first film’s action but before the events of The Road Warrior, with the likes of The Guest’s Dan Stevens having the right combination of fresh-faced charm and simmering intensity to pull off Max’s descent into vengeance-fuelled madness. Meanwhile, an older actor could continue the role from after the events of Fury Road, and between The Punisher’s Jon Bernthal and The Leftovers’ Justin Theroux, Hollywood isn’t short on grizzled action stars who could make the role their own as Hardy has and push the character even further into darkness. And speaking of older actors…
Or the Return of Mel Gibson
Of course, just because Tom Hardy may be busy as Bond doesn’t mean that the original Mad Max himself isn’t available. It may seem unlikely since the actor is in his 60s, but the original trilogy’s Mad Max Mel Gibson is still able to take on the role and could be just what the series needs. Admittedly, a string of high profile flops and higher profile controversies mean that the Passion of Christ director/Lethal Weapon star may be a somewhat risky reacquisition for the Mad Max franchise. But if there’s one thing that Fury Road being an almost-dialogue-free two-hour chase sequence proves, it’s that Miller isn’t interested in playing safe with this franchise. Similarly, the gruesome and unsparing Dragged Across Concrete from Bone Tomahawk director Craig S Zahler proves that Gibson has still got it as an action star and is happy to take on risky roles, while the upcoming Fatman proves that (if nothing else) he certainly doesn’t take himself too seriously to reconsider returning as Max.
Gibson could be an unexpected and reinvigorating presence in the franchise, particularly when his second film as a director, 2007’s Apocalypto, is itself a masterpiece of pulse-pounding chase cinema which proved he has serious skill as both an action actor and director. Bringing the dynamic duo of Miller and Gibson back together in front of and behind the camera may be a golden opportunity for the Mad Max franchise, and would bring the series full circle from its first film through to the modern-day.
More: Fury Road: Tom Hardy’s Mad Max Backstory Explained (In Canon)
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