The Mad Max: Fury Road Comic-Con panel was one of the biggest question marks of Comic-Con 2014. It’s been decades since the last installment. It took years for the reboot/sequel to get made. It was a new Mad Max, but the return of the series’ director, George Miller. And how do you bring one of the most memorable visions of the post-apocalypse into the 21st century? These questions made me eager to get a first glimpse at the madness. But the fourth Mad Max doesn’t look mad. It looks fucking insane in all the best ways.
Hit the jump for the Mad Max: Fury Road Comic-Con panel recap.
We open with a video message from Charlize Theron, who tells us that “working with George Miller” is like winning the lottery. She doesn’t say much more than that, but that’s okay because once the video ends, the bass starts booming, the room starts rocking, and the side screens bear the words “Blood Fire Oil” and then “Comic-Con Belongs to the Mad”.
We then get a retrospective for the Mad Max movies to help get us primed for the new installment. The tagline is interspersed with footage and reads , “Over three decades ago, director George Miller broke every rule.” We then hear the narration from Mad Max 2: “I remember the Road Warrior. The man we call ‘Max’.” We then get a barrage of the crazy vehicles, wasteland, costumes, explosions, violence, etc., and now we are pumped for the fourth go-round.
- George Miller then takes the stage. He says it was interesting to return to the world.
- On working with Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron: “They say 75% of your job is done in your casting. I was waiting for someone like Tom Hardy to come along. And for Theron, when you see the movie, you’ll see there are characteristics that exactly fit the character of Imperator Furiosa.”
- On coming to Comic-Con for the first time: “I was always the kid who got into trouble for drawing cartoons, and reading too many comic books, and seeing too many movies, and I never dreamed that people would come from all over the world to a place like this. This is like a spiritual homeground.”
- Miller says they decided to board the film as a long comic book rather write screenplay. There are 7500 storyboards, and not much dialogue. They’re telling the story mostly in pictures, and that’s what the film looks like.
- How has the process changed since 1979? The initial idea was to tell a simple allegory kind of like “Westerns on wheels,” even though it’s set 45 years in the future. It’s like Westerns in its sparseness. “You can get away from all the clutter. And I also love wrecking cars.”
- “And who knew Mel Gibson would literally turn into Mad Max?” quips moderator Hardwicke. Miller is a bit at a loss for how to respond, but is able to redirect in terms of actors needing charisma but also having an element of danger. “I’m simplifying it,” he notes, “but Tom has that quality. It’s like watching a big, wild animal. You don’t know what they’re going to do next.”
- Was he surprised when the film came to the states and it was a huge success? “I’m always surprised when you put a movie out there and it’s well received.” He also says he wouldn’t believed it at the time that he would be making a new Mad Max movie 30 years later.
- All of the vehicles would be ones you could recognize today. They could only base the vehicles on real vehicles and ones that could conceivably survive (i.e. ones that don’t have too much technology).
- Has he taken a different approach to this one having considering what he’s learned over the past 30 years? “I hope I’ve matured,” says Miller. He says he’s fascinated with how the world has evolved, and some of it is fascinating, some of it is scary, and you try to get that into your work. He looks back at his previous movies and he was making them mostly out of instinct. But this one where you’re filming for months in African, crashing vehicles, “and you kind of lose sense of yourself and work from instinct and gut.”
- Miller says he was definitely able to make the movie I wanted to make. “I’ve been making movies with Warner Bros. since the first Mad Max. They allow filmmakers to have their process.” This is as close to as fully realized to the movie he had in his head. And also, he notes that the world has radically changed, especially compared to the $400K budget of the first one. “We waited a week to see our dailies, but now you can see it immediately.” Also, as an audience, we can perceive cuts much faster. “If you look at movies like music, the tempo has increased.”
- Tonally, how does Fury Road fit within the original trilogy? “Closer to Mad Max 2, simply because it happens over a short period of time. A few period of days, and there’s an extended chase,” says Miller.
- Where are they in the process of making the movie? After taking his Comic-Con memories back home, he’ll get to work with Tom Hardy on ADR. They’re also working on the music and Junkie XL is doing the score. Then they’ll soon be mixing it all together, and “tidying it up.”
- As for any other characters, “there are a lot of characters,” but he points out the character with the gas mask was Imorden Joe is played by Hugh Keyes Burns who played Toecutter in Mad Max 2, and died at the end of that movie. “I figured if you wear a mask, people won’t know it’s a different character.”
- There’s not much in the way of plot. We get the idea that Mad Max is captured by bad guys who are led by a guy with long hair and a gas mask with giant scary teeth painted/embedded into it. Max manages to escape along with Nicholas Hoult’s character, and then they team up with Furiosa, who has rescued some innocent young girls.
- This footage is really more of an assault of images. It’s a mind-blowing demolition derby. When a vehicles crashes, it gets absolutely destroyed in the most glorious fashion. But I believe the footage can be best summed up this fact: There’s a tornado made of explosions. Max and Hoult’s character are chased into a dust storm, and storm is filled with lightning, and one of the pursuers’ vehicles is sucked into a tornado, and the tornado alights in fire.
- This kind of lunacy pervaded all of the footage. The crazy vehicles are back, but they’re now on steroids. They have drums, spikes, people who are tied to poles, and other twisted elements. One of the vehicles has a guy with an electric guitar, and when he strums the guitar, flames shoot out the end of it. The footage managed to keep topping itself, and I can’t wait to see how it all comes together.
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