George Miller Wanted The Road Warrior To 'Overcome All The Mistakes' Of Mad Max

"Mad Max," George Miller's feature-length directorial debut, is a labor of love made on a shoestring budget. The director's story of a policeman driven to madness at the start of an apocalypse would end up spawning a franchise of five movies and even a video game, with a spin-off slated for 2024. Miller made the first trilogy of films in relatively quick succession, between 1979 and 1985. Still, the 30-year gap between "Beyond Thunderdome" and "Fury Road" led to a significant difference between the films, both aesthetically and story-wise. This separation of quality wasn't the first time that happened in the series though. Perhaps one of the most impressive sequels ever made, "The Road Warrior" would become the new gold standard for "Mad Max" films, improving over the original film in many ways.

In an interview with Los Angeles Times in August 2022, Miller said that — doing better than what you did before — was the only reason he made the sequel to begin with. However, as the director pointed out, the relation of the quality of the film to its scope or size isn't mutually exclusive:

"You're striving to make each film better but not necessarily more. You're not looking for more; you're looking for it to be as good as it can be. You're definitely looking not to repeat what you've just done, and you are looking to make it, if you like, uniquely familiar. It's got to be its own thing."

Only thing in common was Mel Gibson

"The Road Warrior" continued the story of Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson), turning the character into a post-apocalyptic legend. While Gibson's character still maintained that same humanity and tragic world-weariness, Max was elevated by the larger-than-life situation the sequel put him in. With expertly choreographed vehicular combat and a more detailed dystopia, "The Road Warrior" would prove superior to the original in every way. As it turns out, that was George Miller's one condition for making a sequel, something he initially had no intention of doing:

"After I made the first 'Mad Max' all those years ago, I didn't want to make another 'Mad Max' film. Then I made a second one. And for me, personally, it was on the condition that I was able to overcome all the mistakes that I thought I learned from the first film. So the second film had to be different from the first. So it was a different film in tone, style, and everything. The only thing really in common was that it was Mel Gibson."

Miller's "Mad Max" series would turn into something similar to an anthology, exploring a different corner of the post-apocalyptic wasteland with each new entry. Thanks to the mythic nature of Max, which was first established in "The Road Warrior," there wasn't a need for a cohesive narrative between films. Max wandered through the wasteland, coming upon different tribes and leaving his mark in a way only Miller could convey with insane vehicular action.

Doing a remake would be foolish

Interestingly enough, George Miller also told the LA Times that people had been telling him to make "Fury Road" more like "The Road Warrior." As great as that first sequel is and could still be considered the gold standard of action films, Miller isn't one to redo a movie. Just as each "Mad Max" film had been incredibly different from the one before it 30 years ago, so would "Fury Road" in 2015. More importantly, the director felt that all the advancements in how movies are made and what stories audiences expected to see drove him to make this next "Mad Max" film unique:

"I thought, 'Well, wait a minute, that was 30 years ago. Everything's changed. Not only have I changed personally, the world's changed. Cinema has changed, the way we read cinema has changed, and the way we make cinema's changed. If we were just to go back and I'm doing a remake of that film, we'd be fools.' So it had to be different."

It's admirable to see a filmmaker as talented as Miller is humble enough to see and learn from "mistakes" in his work. Beyond the director's recognition that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better, Miller's apprehensive nature about follow-ups and ensuring each sequel is wildly different from the other has helped turn "Mad Max" into a long-lasting franchise.

With Miller currently in post-production on the "Furiosa" spinoff, audiences can have faith that it'll be unlike anything the director has made up to this point.