We who love these movies love Furiosa because she’s a great action hero by any standard. She has all of the qualifications. She’s tough and stoic, she looks cool, she knows how to climb across fast moving vehicles, or what to do when dudes on motorcycles keep jumping over the truck dropping grenades. She has a mysterious past. She works for the bad guys, but she’s changing that. She risks everything to do the right thing. She seeks redemption for unspecified sins and revenge for an implied wrong. She steals the movie from the iconic title character, because she’s the one that makes the move, gets the ball rolling, starts the revolution. For the first section of the movie we barely see Max’s face or hear his voice, he’s helplessly strapped to the front of the car while she does the work. When he gets away they go toe-to-toe, and she holds her own. At the end she kills the bad guy and collects the reward for it.
In the world of FURY ROAD these are not male traits. They are survivor traits. But yes, that Furiosa happens to be a woman and Immortan Joe a raping scumbag makes it all the more fun to root for her. It’s great action movie wish fulfillment, like Django fighting slavers or the Basterds killing Hitler or, for some people, Rambo retroactively winning the Vietnam War. It also subverts the paternal trope of the male rescuer or protector. Max isn’t their savior, he’s an obstacle. He has to get with the program, and then he helps out.
His biggest move, actually, is not more “male violence,” but medical care and blood donorship, something it’s hard to imagine crusty old Max doing before the inspiration of all these women. That Furiosa is a woman also makes it more meaningful that the two earn each other’s trust and respect, and say goodbye with a badass nod. They don’t fall in love like a normal male and female lead.
Because I believe in the legitimacy of action movies, I believe that the creation of great action characters is a worthwhile accomplishment. These are two iconic action heroes, one male, one female, and they are equals. If that’s not feminism, fine. But whatever it is I’m for it.
–Outlaw Vern deconstructs Fury Road.
Incidentally, if you want to know how to actually respond to criticisms made by feminists of your favourite things, go read this essay and learn how to fucking do it. Spoiler alert: no doxxing or threats are involved, and your readers will actually feel smarter for having read your stuff, and not like they want to take a shower in a stream of flaming bleach. Amazing!