When the final trailer for “Mad Max: Fury Road” dropped back in April, I questioned if George Miller was secretly giving audiences a feminist action movie.

There’s nothing secret about it. “Fury Road” is two hours of high octane action that is also a giant middle finger to every sexist action movie trope that has come before it. From the moment Imperator Furiosa takes a hard left into the desert to the second the end credits rolls, Miller is not interested in the status quo whether it comes to stunts, storytelling, or stereotypes.

It is the most subversive action blockbuster in existence and it is glorious.


#1. It’s a story about escaping sexual slavery with zero sex in it.

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

I’ll be honest. When I first heard the plot of “Fury Road” involved five women escaping from Immortan Joe’s harem — and that the film was rated R — I considered skipping it. To me, it was obvious shorthand for “We’re going to abuse women on screen for your entertainment.” And in a lesser movie, that would’ve been the case. But not for George Miller. Miller skips the preamble; audiences don’t meet the Wives until they are free of Immortan Joe. Everyone is left to use their imagination as to what it would be like to be the “prized possession” of a man like that — locked in a gilded cage and on-call for breeding against their will. The concept is horrific enough by itself; no one needs it spelled out with cowering women crying in a corner.


#2. The Wives being supermodel attractive makes narrative sense.

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

Nothing is more irritating than watching a dystopian movie where all the men are covered in grime and somehow the women are still cat-walk ready. In the trailers the Wives seem to fit this mold, but the reality of their lives at least gives context to their luscious locks and baby-smooth legs. They are the coddled and “beloved” pets of their master, Immortan Joe. They’ve never been subjected to manual labor or even excessive amounts of sunlight. In a world where the War Boys can figure out Mad Max’s blood type, surely there is a fleet of slaves at the ready to wax, primp, and wash the Wives for Joe’s pleasure. In fact, the Wives are such a rarity in this harsh new world that at one point a character exclaims in disbelief, “This one still has all her teeth!”


#3. George Miller opts for “show” over “tell.”

Image Credit: Warner Bros.

The amount of lore about gender packed into “Mad Max: Fury Road” is so dense it’s practically a singularity. Immortan Joe’s misshapen brothers and sons (note that Joe is clearly not interested in girl children) run his little fiefdom, lording over the irradiated and deformed masses. There’s the Mother’s Milk that sustains the elite instead of water. There’s an entire religion based around gasoline, cars, and Valhalla. There’s a matriarchy surviving in the wastes, Miss Giddy covered in tattoos, the roving bands stealing healthy girl children for breeding, the day-to-day rituals in a world gone rotten. There’s Furiosa’s insanely cool mechanical arm. On and on it unfurls. And yet…there’s no narration. No voiceover. No character is holding the audience’s hand and vomiting exposition. No, George Miller trusts the audience to connect the dots. And if they don’t? Too bad for them.

Mom. Wife. Geek. Gamer. Feminist. Writer. Sarcastic. Succinct. Donna has been writing snark for the Internet in one form or another for almost a decade. She has a lot of opinions, mostly on science-fiction, fantasy, feminism, and Sailor Moon. Follow her on Twitter (@MildlyAmused) for more of all these things.