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How Mad Max Made The Post-Apocalypse Cool — Life Lessons

Warner Bros. Pictures

“I’m the guy who carries Mr. Dead in his pocket.” – Mad Max (Mel Gibson) in Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

Tom Hardy, the English actor who played Bane in ‘The Dark Knight Rises,’ is set to star as Mad Max in the upcoming franchise reboot ‘Mad Max: Fury Road‘. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the Mad Max films, they’re the movies that made a pre-controversy-courting Mel Gibson an international superstar. Those films, especially ‘The Road Warrior,’ also made the post-apocalyptic world seem pretty damn cool. 

Plenty of post-apocalyptic movies have been made since a young Mel Gibson stared in the original ‘Mad Max,’ way back in 1979, and it’s extremely successful follow up, ‘The Road Warrior,’ in 1981. The movies center on Max, a former cop wandering the wastelands of Australia’s outback after a nuclear apocalypse.

And what were Australians looking for, besides food and clean water, come the end of the modern world? Why fuel, petrol, juice or whatever you want to call it, so folks could drive around in their very dangerous looking motor vehicles. Max sported a suped-up 1973 XB GT Ford Falcon Coupe, which he drove around while searching for petrol, avoiding bad guys and doing his best to survive an extremely cutthroat and lawless world.

In the third film, 1985’s ‘Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome,’ Max encounters a ragtag group of leather-clad misfits, led by Aunt Entity (Tina Turner), trying to build a new civilization out of the dregs of the old one. Max comes along and mucks everything up, of course, but at least his heart is in the right place, more or less.

The reason these films still resonate today isn’t their post-apocalyptic setting, necessarily, but the fact that at their core, they’re classical Westerns. Max is the lone cowboy, driving a black Ford instead of riding a horse, moving from one desperate town or situation to the next. He’s just trying to survive in a cruel world, but deep down, he still wants to help others less fortunate than himself.

Max is the hero of the post-apocalyptic world, straddling the line between anarchy and civilization. He also gets into some pretty spectacular fights and amazing car chases, which make his wild ride that much cooler.

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