Welp, I suppose I should preface this post with a "spoilers ahoy!" warning....if you haven't seen Mad Max: Fury Road, then maybe go hop in your spike covered desert buggy and catch it. Oh, and bring some water ;)
Ok, everyone else still reading that's been to the box office and back......
OH MY GOD CAN WE JUST TALK ABOUT FURIOSA NOW?
I'd been looking forward to this movie for quite some time. The trailers were amazing, the reviews were solid, and I was happy to see a lady thrown in there, as an added bonus she didn't appear to be in 6 inch heels and a metallic bikini, so, yeah.... cool, cool.
About halfway through Fury Road I realized just how low my bar had been set for female action heroes, trained by years of either stiletto-ed eye candy, or a female character who overcompensates masculinity so that the "like a man" seal of approval implies toughness and strength. Two stereotypes that both end up kinda boring, one dimensional. Imperator Furiosa is neither of these things. She's a human being, and something Hollywood has failed to give viewers in a very long time. Furiosa has the dichotomy of vulnerability and strength that makes a heroes journey interesting. Would Indiana Jones be interesting if you hadn't seen him freak out over snakes, or seen the whites of his eyes every time he's hanging from a ledge? It's these types of things that make the danger seem real, it causes us to empathize with the hero. If he'd yawned and read a newspaper while flying down the rails in a minecart, he'd have come across as a douche. Yet that's what most female action heroes are written like. Why? Perhaps the faulty logic is in play that fear (or any emotion really) is attributed to weakness, so writers and actresses err on the side of caution when using it for female character development. Through the course of the movie, we see Furiosa experience fear, we see her visibly tear up at loss, we see her put on her "game face" when initially bluffing her crew, when negotiating passage through the canyon, and we see what's beneath all that when she's with the Many Mothers. She's the perfect foil for Max, who trusts no one, and his situation reflects that. I believe this movie is intelligent enough that the contrast is deliberate. One could argue that Furiosa's "people instincts" are her strength. She's a risk taker, but an intelligent one, and in the end that's what saves them all. There is no doubt she is a fully realized person existing within the Mad Max universe, there is no magic here, no waif with the strength of a linebacker. Her fight with Max is one of the most brutal and compelling bits of fisticuff choreography I've ever seen. Both parties use every tactic available, including assists from bystanders. I've seen plenty of movies where villains fight the hero, and politely wait in a single file line to do it. Yeah, that rule gets broken here, by both parties...and the fight is all the better for it. Yass. Please do more of this movie fight choreographers, it's awesome.
When Furiosa reaches the Many Mothers....well that was shock number two. I have never seen the likes of this in scifi, action, fantasy.....ever. Grandma snipers on motorcycles bragging about headshots is what the world has been missing. Old broads are the first casualty in all fictional universes, and this movie shows what a shame that is. I would have been less surprised if they had come across a herd of unicorns in the desert and completed the movie riding them back to town. I've just grown accustomed to this... movies & games where the crew is always a spectrum of all ages for male players, but the one token female is a 18-23 year old. We're living in a world where Maggie Gyllenhall is told she's too old to play the wife of a 55 year old, and I know this isn't going to change overnight, but come on, stop crafting universes where the female spectrum of existence is missing after 30. It's kinda creepy Hollywood, just stahp.
The massive box office success of Mad Max: Fury Road proves marketing departments across America wrong. You're underestimating the male audience. It isn't that male audiences wont accept female protagonists....they just won't accept poorly conceived ones. Stop pandering and get on board. What a lovely day that will be....................