Optimism in Mad Max: Fury Road

Updated on December 10, 2019
satomko profile image

Seth Tomko is a writer, college-level educator, and adventurer.

Among the many conflicts in Mad Max: Fury Road, the optimistic belief in the possibility of a future is the underlying source of tension between the most active characters: Furiosa and Immortan Joe.


There will be spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road.

Movie poster for Mad Max: Fury Road, likely owned by Warner Bros.
Movie poster for Mad Max: Fury Road, likely owned by Warner Bros. | Source


There are a number of characters who don’t believe there will be a future. For instance, during the chase to capture the escaped War Rig, the Bullet Farmer says, “all this over a family squabble. Healthy babies” and spits his contempt for the whole situation. Similarly, the People Eater only thinks about costs, calling Immortan Joe’s runaway wives “assets” without much regard for their identity or ability to secure any kind of future. He’s a grotesque bean counter who literally steps on others, prioritizing his own comfort and keeping his ledgers more than anything else.

Max introduces himself by saying “I exist in this wasteland. A man reduced to a single instinct: survive.” The diction suggests there is nothing beyond day-to-day living, which precludes a rich or developing life in the future. While he does eventually work and sacrifice to secure a future for others, he walks away from it, likely believing himself to be too damaged to rejoin a society striving for a future that is more than seeing the next sunrise.

While all different, what each of these characters share is the sense that there is no future. They and the world are so battered and degraded there can be no hope for anything better over the next horizon. They all seek to endure while a tacitly accepting that their struggle against entropy is futile.

Furiosa aims a gun at an off-screen attacker in a screenshot owned by Warner Bros.
Furiosa aims a gun at an off-screen attacker in a screenshot owned by Warner Bros. | Source

The Future Belongs to the Mad

Furiosa reaches for better life, risking everything to help Immortan Joe’s wives to search for the Green Place where they can raise their children with a future of less destruction. They ask “who killed the world?” and run away, claiming their “babies will not be warlords” because they see no future for themselves or their children other than violent death. Furiosa not only believes she can help them achieve this goal but also states she hopes to find redemption, which is a moral and optimistic possibility in a post-apocalyptic world of murderous scavengers. She has reached a point where the ethical cost of being in Immortan Joe’s society is untenable while believing there can be a better, less debasing alternative. This belief in a positive future is what give her the strength to act, throwing away her glory and station in the Citadel to help others and then putting herself at risk again to fight for a better life. Her hope can appear to others as verging on delusional just like the Many Mothers toting around a bag of seeds for the dim and still unrealized possibility that they can find soil and water to support them.

Immortan Joe driving a pursuit vehicle.
Immortan Joe driving a pursuit vehicle. | Source

Rev It Up for The Immortan Joe

Immortan Joe is, perhaps surprisingly, another optimistic character. He believes is there will be a future. While other characters are content to endure the status quo, Immortan Joe demands to triumph over the horrific setting. To that end, he enslaves everyone he possibly can to work toward his vision of the future. This situation is absolutely vile in that he intentionally scrapes away the humanity and dignity of others, hoarding it for himself. He even says, “That’s my child. My property.” His wives—who are sexual slaves, branded with his mark—are the means by which he will find a way to have healthy sons. What he believes in isn’t “a future” but “his future.” His egomania leads him to paranoia and an unquenchable thirst to crush and consume anyone to make his vision a reality. He sacrifices others for his vision of a future for a healthy son to continue his work, whereas Furiosa sacrifices of herself for a future for others.

Witness Me

Therein lies the thematic drive of the film because the two characters who are optimistic enough to work for a future are diametrically opposed in their vision of what that future looks like. While most characters appear to be in a holding pattern, waiting out the end time, Furiosa and Immortan Joe are ambitiously optimistic about trying to create a future. It is the difference in their imagined futures that leads them into conflict.

© 2019 Seth Tomko


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • satomko profile imageAUTHOR

      Seth Tomko 

      5 months ago from Macon, GA

      Sam Shepards, you are correct in that several philosophical perspective could take that viewpoint in abstraction as a statement of liberation. The context of the movie, however, suggests the basics of survival are not enough to create a life worth living, especially since the setting is barren and hostile.

    • Sam Shepards profile image

      Sam Shepards 

      5 months ago from Europe

      "there is nothing beyond day-to-day living", depending how you interpret this there can be enormous freedom in it. :)


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, reelrundown.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)