The Mad Max story created by George Miller can be a bit confusing. There are retcons, contradictions, and a big gap between the third and fourth movies, where Mel Gibson who played the lead character gets replaced by Tom Hardy.
Mad Max: Fury Road even had a prequel comic that kind of started things over but didn’t match everything from before. However, George Miller talked about these changes. Originally, they wanted Mel Gibson back for the fourth movie, but things didn’t go that way. As a result, they had to cast Tom Hardy as the lead character.
The final Fury Road movie is a bit like a reboot, and a sequel, all mixed up. This makes the whole Mad Max story more like a legend than a simple tale. Even with these issues, we can still make a timeline and try to watch the movies in the right order.
As you wait for Furiosa and Mad Max: The Wasteland, you can watch the other movies in the franchise that are already released.
Mad Max Movie Order
So far, we have four Mad Max movies and two more are on the way. The timeline is a bit complicated, so buckle up as we take you on a wild ride.
1. Mad Max (1979)
The first Mad Max movie came out in 1979. Right in the beginning, we see a road sign dated December 1984, suggesting the story is in the mid-80s, probably 1985. The world, including Australia, is in chaos due to fighting in the Persian Gulf, causing a big drop in oil production. This messes up the global economy, leading to martial law in many places.
In this messed-up time, violent gangs control Australian highways. The Main Force Patrol (MFP) and Officer Max Rockatansky try to keep things in order. Unlike other movies in the series, some parts of society still exist. There’s law in society, stores are open, and Max and his family even go on a road trip. Sadly, it ends in tragedy.
During the movie, Max’s family is brutally killed by a gang, making him seek revenge. He hunts down each member, driving his cool Interceptor car. By the end, it’s clear the world is in bad shape, but there’s still some order. There’s a visible divide between the civilization and wasteland.
2. Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981)
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior happens about three years after the first Mad Max in the late 1980s. It gets a bit confusing when we talk about the timeline because, in the original plan, The Road Warrior’s story comes before a big global nuclear war. There’s societal breakdown and the wasteland we see in the movie is just more decayed.
But in the Mad Max: Fury Road prequel comics, things change. Now, the nuclear war happens between the first and second movies. No matter how you look at it, society has fallen apart a lot in just a few years since the end of the first Mad Max.
As Max roams around the wasteland in search of gasoline, there are still some forms of civilization left. We see Max join a peaceful tribe. The movie also introduces warlords, like Humungus, leading a gang of bandits trying to attack weaker communities and take gas from them. This sets the theme for a new world where the strong and tough rule by force.
3. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is the third movie in the franchise, where we see Mel Gibson as the lead character for the last time. Released in 1985, the movie turned out to be a critical success, after which, the franchise was paused for more than 30 years. In 2015, George Miller once again revived the movie series with Mad Max: Fury Road, starring Tom Hardy in the lead role.
In the third movie, Max is taken to a place by a group called the Lost Tribe, and there’s a mark saying the pilot left in 1999. Since The Road Warrior was around 1988, Captain Walker, the pilot, has been gone for a few years. But there’s a problem with the timeline because of Mad Max: Fury Road. Beyond Thunderdome is set after the nuclear war, but in the comics for Fury Road, the war happens after 2015, contradicting the 1999 date in Thunderdome.
Thunderdome’s story is way after the nuclear apocalypse. Bartertown is the first real attempt at rebuilding society with trade, rules, and social order. The movie shows the world turning into a wasteland with nuclear war destroying most of the remaining greenery. It ends with kids trying to build a new civilization in Sydney, but Fury Road hints that it didn’t go well.
4. Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
Mad Max: Fury Road is kind of tricky to fit into the timeline of the original movies. It’s supposed to happen after Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, as shown in the prequel comics. Tom Hardy’s Max in Fury Road looks more primal, suggesting some time has passed. The fourth film probably takes place around 2050 based on hints in the movie.
But even if we ignore dates from the earlier movies, Max seems too young in Fury Road. In the first movie, he has a son, but in Fury Road, there are flashbacks with a little girl. Max’s tattoo marking also suggests he would have been born after the apocalypse, which contradicts the first movie.
Fans find it difficult to explain these contradictions. Others suggest that Tom Hardy and Mel Gibson play different characters with the title “Mad Max” passing between them. Some even think Hardy’s Max could be the feral boy from The Road Warrior. George Miller, the director, isn’t clear on the timeline, so there’s no definite answer. The open nature of the series allows for speculation, and Fury Road shows the world getting worse as Furiosa talks about the green place, only to find it’s all gone.
5. Furiosa (Not Released Yet)
The next Mad Max story is going back in time. It’s a prequel about Furiosa, played by Anya Taylor-Joy this time, before she became an Imperator for Immortan Joe. We don’t know exactly when it happened, but it’s before Mad Max: Fury Road and after Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. George Miller said it would cover many years, not just a few days like Fury Road.
Since Taylor-Joy is much younger than Charlize Theron, who played Furiosa in Fury Road, the prequel might be set around 2030 or even earlier. We don’t have a lot of details about the story, but Furiosa is supposed to come out on 24th May 2024.
6. Mad Max 5: The Wasteland (Not Released Yet)
After the huge success of “Mad Max: Fury Road,” a sequel called “Mad Max: The Wasteland,” was announced, featuring Tom Hardy as Max Rockatansky. According to Mark Sexton, the film aims to expand on the previous one, with a focus on Max and a more serious tone.
Fans can expect Max’s V8 Interceptor to make a comeback, but Furiosa won’t be in the movie. However, Max is expected to appear in the planned Furiosa prequel or sequel. Despite no casting news, George Miller reassured fans in 2022 that there’s another story in the works, though it’s still in progress.
If Mad Max: The Wasteland becomes a reality, it’s likely to follow immediately after Fury Road. This aligns with Tom Hardy portraying a thirty-something Max. The iconic Furiosa, played by Charlize Theron, is also expected to return in the sequel. Anya Taylor-Joy’s prequel adds depth to her character, offering more insight while fans await the film’s release. In short, the franchise is not finished yet, we still have more to come.
Is The Watch Order The Same As The Mad Max Timeline?
The Mad Max timeline is a bit tricky, but if you want to watch the movies in order, you can go with the order they were released. This helps us understand the story, even though there might be some confusion.
George Miller made the movies so you can jump in at any point and enjoy them on their own. For example, The Road Warrior wasn’t initially presented as a sequel in the U.S. because people here didn’t know about Mad Max.
Now, with the upcoming Furiosa movie, things will change. It’s the first prequel in the franchise, so you should watch it before Mad Max: Fury Road, where Furiosa is introduced as an adult. There’s also talk about Mad Max: The Wasteland continuing the story after Fury Road, but it’s not confirmed yet.
So, the order for watching Mad Max is:
- Mad Max – It is available on Tubi.
- Mad Max: The Road Warrior – You can watch it on Max.
- Mad Max: Beyond The Thunderdome – You can rent it on Apple TV.
- Furiosa – It is not released yet.
- Mad Max: Fury Road – It is currently streaming on Hulu.
- Mad Max: The Wasteland – It is in the making.
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