Mad Max series legacy and influence in popular culture

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The Mad Max series of films has had a significant impact on modern popular culture. Mad Max references are deeply embedded in popular culture; references to its dystopian, apocalyptic, and post-apocalyptic themes and bizarre landscape and desolate wasteland imagery have inspired some artists to emulate the look and feel of some aspect of the series in their work.[1]

Mad Max[edit]

  • Manga author Buronson cites Mad Max as an inspiration for his series Fist of the North Star, illustrated by Tetsuo Hara.
  • James Wan and Leigh Whannell credit the film's final scene, in which Johnny is given the option of cutting off either the resistant chain or his own foot to escape, for inspiring the entire Saw series.[2]
  • The music video for the 2001 single "Addicted to Bass" by Puretone was heavily inspired by the opening chase sequence in Mad Max featuring a Pursuit Special. Two Falcon XB coupes were used in the video - one painted in the livery of the MFP vehicles seen in the film.[3]
  • In 2009, artist Shaun Gladwell showcased MADDESTMAXIMVS at the Venice Biennale. The exhibition brought together numerous works of art inspired by the Mad Max film series, including a video art piece that displayed a sculptural replica of Max's Pursuit Special.[4]
  • Pop singer Ke$ha noted that the vibe of her Get $leazy Tour (2011) was "very heavily influenced" by the Mad Max series. Several of the costumes she and her friends wear throughout the show are very reminiscent of characters throughout the Mad Max franchise.[5]
  • Games Workshop sponsored rock band D-Rok make reference to numerous characters from Mad Max in the song King Hibited, including Johnny and the Toecutter, though they refer to the Acolytes as "the Apostles".
  • A lot of Early Queens of the Stone Age and The Desert Sessions' songs titles are references to the first movie.

Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior[edit]

  • Filmmakers Guillermo Del Toro,[6] David Fincher,[7] and Robert Rodríguez[8] have cited Mad Max 2 as one of their favorite movies. James Cameron also credits the movie, along with Star Wars, for having a major influence on him.[9]
  • Game designer Hideo Kojima has said that Mad Max 2 is one of his top 5 favorite movies of all time and has inspired him a lot in his game franchise, Metal Gear Solid. His favorite aspect of the film is how it tells a lot about its characters without explaining it through words.
  • Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin, creators of the comic heroine Tank Girl, describe her as "Mad Max designed by Vivienne Westwood"[10]
  • Waterworld co-writer David Twohy cited The Road Warrior as a major influence on the film. Both films share the same cinematographer, Dean Semler.[11]
  • The music video for Phil Collins' "Don't Lose My Number" features a sequence inspired by Mad Max 2.[12][13]
  • In the episode of Nickelodeon's Rugrats "The Sky is Falling", there is an end of the world scene which parodies Mad Max 2. They are heading down a road in the desert toward an abandoned city. Their vehicles are engineered out of other things (cribs, tricycles, etc.). One of the characters, Chuckie, is piloting a Gyrocopter and is dressed very similarly to the gyro captain (leather cap, shirt, tan colors, et al.).[14]
  • In the episode of Disney's Recess "The Fuss Over Finster" chaos breaks loose on the playground. A "bike gang" consisting of four children on bicycles wearing costumes based on those worn in The Road Warrior makes several appearances.
  • In the level creator downloadable content for Portal 2, Cave Johnson, the narrator says "Cave Johnson here. Just a reminder that the core goal of Aperture Gas-Finding Science is to find gas, so make sure you let us know if you see any. If we meet our quarterly gas-finding target, I promise you we will don our bondage gear, fuel our death cars, and drive around in circles, whooping it up and shooting arrows at people. Who is ready to rule the wasteland? All right, start looking."[15]
  • The Fallout series of videogames, which has a post-apocalyptic world as their setting, lists Mad Max as one of its influences.[16] For example, in the first and second games, one of the first available armors is a one-sleeved leather jacket that closely resembles the jacket worn by Mel Gibson in the film. Also, in the series the player character can acquire various companions that will accompany the player and help him in his quest; one of the companions in the first game is a dog that resembles the one that follows Max in Mad Max 2. A secret location in the second Fallout game allows the player to find the dog character again, and a nearby companion will remark that he'd seen it hanging around with a tough guy wearing black leather. The second Fallout game also features a driveable car that resembles Max's Pursuit Special.
  • Other videogames inspired by Mad Max or its sequels include Twisted Metal, Carmageddon, Borderlands and Rage.[17]
  • Nikki Sixx cited the Mad Max films and Escape From New York as a major inspiration for the early stage shows and costume designs of Motley Crue in the band's tell-all book, The Dirt. Blackie Lawless from W.A.S.P. cited the film as having a huge effect on the visual theme they were to employ in their 1980s stage shows.[18]
  • Ian Livingstone's book Freeway Fighter from the Fighting Fantasy series was inspired by the film.
  • Mad Max 2 is referenced multiple times in South Park. A poster for the film (as "The Street Warrior") is seen frequently in Stan's room in the later seasons. In the episode Proper Condom Use, there is a climatic gender battle between the children of the town with various visual nods to the film. Butters is even dressed up as 'Lord Humungus' and quotes his "just walk away" speech. Another episode of the show, Eat, Pray, Queef, features a female senator demonstrating a queef called "The Road Warrior" that consists of her queefing Lord Humongous' speech to Wez.
  • Professional wrestling tag team The Road Warriors (also known as The Legion of Doom) were heavily inspired by "Mad Max 2", both in their name and their attire, which saw them wear spiked shoulder pads and face paint to the ring. Road Warrior Animal would later adopt Max Rockatansky's look from the film for his singles run in the WWE, going by the name of The Road Warrior.
  • Another professional wrestling tag team, Demolition, debuted in the WWF in 1987 as their version of the Legion of Doom. Their look was based on Lord Humungus from the film as they wore leather studded outfits and leather hockey masks to the ring.
  • The wrestling character Lord Humongous in the Memphis territory, played by a variety of men over the years, was based on the movie villain.
  • Professional wrestler Chris Jericho often referred to himself as "The Ayatollah of Rock 'n' Rolla", a name that Lord Humungus refers to himself as.
  • Professional wrestling tag team The Ascension, heavily influenced by The Road Warriors, sport a look even more heavily inspired by the film's marauders, with Konnor bearing a striking resemblance to Wez.
  • Mortal Engines author Philip Reeve stated that the film was an influence on the creation of his particular post apocalyptic universe.[19]
  • The Discworld book, The Last Continent, features a character known only as "Mad", and who is clearly an expy of Max Rockatansky. Mad is a dwarf clad all in black leather, who races through the XXXX (Discworld's version of Australia) desert in a very fast and heavily-customised cart, while being pursued by gangs who are after his fuel (i.e. hay).

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome[edit]

Mad Max: Fury Road[edit]

  • In Tyler, The Creator's music video "Fucking Young", a sequence takes place at the end which shares the same aesthetic of the movie.[24]
  • In the video game Wasteland 2, the War Rig is seen in a level.
  • In a music video by the South Korean Pop Group Big Bang, entitled "Bang Bang Bang", numerous costumes and props are similar to that of the Mad Max films. The back-up dancers are reminiscent of Fury Road's War Boys mechanics, while the use of flame throwers, outlandish dress, dust and grease smeared sets, and also the extravagant performances, are also references to the franchise's most recent film.[25]
  • Conan O'Brien spoofed the film in an opening sequence for the show's 2015 Comic-Con special. [26]


  1. ^ Hartman, Matthew (14 May 2015). "Maximized Entertainment: A Look At the Legacy of George Miller's Mad Max". High-Def Digest. Internet Brands. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  2. ^ McDonough, Maitland. "Not Quite Hollywood: the Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!". Film Journal International. Vol. 112, no. 8., Aug. 2009. p.73
  3. ^ "Mad Max References Puretone - Addicted To Bass". Retrieved 10 January 2014. 
  4. ^ "Shaun Gladwell: MADDESTMAXIMVS / Australian Pavilion / La Biennale di Venezia 2009". Vernissage TV. 29 July 2009. Archived from the original on 11 April 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  5. ^ O'Donnell, Kevin (11 February 2011). "Ke$ha Talks U.$. Tour: "It's an Epic Dance Party"". Spin Magazine. Spin Media. Retrieved 11 February 2011. 
  6. ^ "Five Favorite Films With Guillermo Del Toro". 
  7. ^ "David Fincher's Favorite Movies of all Time". 
  8. ^ "The Reformation of a Rebel Without a Crew". 
  9. ^ "James Cameron Interview". 
  10. ^ Fashion Talks: Undressing the Power of Style
  11. ^ Den of Geek: Looking back on Waterworld
  12. ^ Barra, Allen (15 August 1999). "FILM; A Road Warrior Is Still on a Roll". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). p. 2. Archived from the original on 17 May 2015. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  13. ^ Pareles, Jon (2 November 1986). "HOME VIDEO; Recent Releases Of Video Cassettes: Photos and 'White Suit'". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2015. 
  14. ^ "Mad Max References: Rugrats". 
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^ Roaming The Wasteland: 5 Video Games Inspired By 'Mad Max'. Tech Times
  18. ^
  19. ^ Reeve, Philip. "Philip Reeve Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015. 
  20. ^ Gangbanging 101 lyrics
  21. ^ Venable, Nick (1 February 2014). "The Voice Channels Mad Max With New Trailer". 
  22. ^ Wilson, Elliott (April 2005). "XXL". Pop Shots (Harris Publications). pp. 131–135. 
  23. ^ Chin, Mike (31 October 2008). "The Importance of…10.31.08: The Importance of the Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal Match". 
  24. ^ Youtube Retrieved 7 June 2015.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ Seoul beats Retrieved 1/10/2015.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help); Check date values in: |access-date= (help); Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)