Mad Max 5: A Furiosa Prequel Without Charlize Theron Is A Big Mistake
The news that George Miller is moving forward with a Mad Max: Fury Road spin-off focused on young Furiosa seems unfair to Charlize Theron.
The news that George Miller is moving forward with a Mad Max: Fury Road spinoff focused on young Furiosa seems unfair to Charlize Theron. It's been five years since George Miller's movie released, and while it was said to have incurred losses of around $40 million due to its massive budget, Mad Max: Fury Road was still a major success, winning six Oscars from 10 nominations, including ones for Best Picture and Best Director. It topped countless Best of the Decades lists at the end of 2019 and has already secured its status as one of action cinema's greatest achievements.
Miller has spent years trying to get a sequel or spinoff made, which is now happening with a prequel focusing on Charlize Theron's Imperator Furiosa. Rumors had been swirling for a while over this planned Furiosa prequel, and Miller himself confirmed that the prequel will focus on a younger version of the character, meaning that Theron will not reprise the role. The biggest names being shared as possible contenders for the part include Anya Taylor-Joy from The Witch and Jodie Comer, the Emmy-winning star of Killing Eve. Both are excellent actresses who certainly possess the qualities required of Furiosa in , and it’s certainly exciting for Fury Road fans to know that they will return to this incredible world that Miller created. Still, it remains undoubtedly disappointing that Theron will not get to return to the part she made iconic. Indeed, Theron is Furiosa and she cannot so easily be replaced.
Charlize Theron has never needed to prove her acting prowess over the past decade. She has an Oscar on her shelf plus a slew of other major awards to her name to pay testament to that fact. Still, there was something so primal and shocking about Theron's performance in Mad Max: Fury Road that made her seem like a whole new person. It’s a display of pure physicality, the rough and ready determination of a woman who has had to fight every second of her life to get somewhere. Furiosa fights not like a precisely taught martial artist but like someone who has been hardened by decades of strife. She scrapes and claws and uses every part of her oft-battered body to get the job done.
Theron has established herself in recent years as a true action movie force with titles like – one of the few actors able to effortlessly slide from prestige drama to rock ‘n’ roll explosion queen – but never have those two elements been more beautifully in tandem than they are in Fury Road. This is not a film of endless soliloquies or exposition. Indeed, dialogue often seems like an afterthought, and deliberately so. Theron manages to convey so many emotions, reveal an entire backstory of pain and resilience, with a mere clenched jaw or weary gaze into the scorching sun. Audiences understand everything about this woman just through the way Theron clutches onto the steering wheel or how she gazes with fear and hope at the women she is helping to save from Immortan Joe. The emotional stakes are so high and it’s Theron who forces the audience to remember that, even in a sea of over-powered diesel guzzlers and flaming electric guitars.
To put it bluntly, Theron already did the work to ensure that a Furiosa prequel is unnecessary. Part of the intense power of Mad Max: Fury Road is in how it eschews conventional notions of Hollywood storytelling while still filling in the gaps of world- and character-building through suggestion. It's known that Furiosa has suffered horribly and audiences don’t require Theron to give a tear-jerking monologue to emphasize that fact. Fury Road is impeccable as a story about female trauma that never lingers or leers over said trauma. Can a prequel offer that? Theron birthed Furiosa and her entire world. It would be a thrill to see more of her story, but a prequel feels not only unnecessary but detrimental to what made her narrative in the first film so compelling to begin with. Mad Max: Fury Road was a breath of fresh air, a much-needed wake-up call for an entire genre of cinema. Can a Furiosa prequel build upon that without undoing the precious work crafted before it? That remains to be seen, but for now, it seems safe to say that, at the very least, Theron deserves more.
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