Legacy and influence of Mad Max in popular culture

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The Mad Max series of films, which debuted in 1979, 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]

  • Mad Max and The Road Warrior were influenced by the 1975 post-apocalyptic film A Boy and His Dog, which was in turn based on a 1969 novella.[2] Another precursor was the 1973 post-apocalyptic manga series Violence Jack (1973 debut), which may have influenced Mad Max and/or Fist of the North Star.[3][4][5]
  • Manga author Buronson cited Mad Max as an inspiration for his manga and anime series Fist of the North Star (1983 debut), illustrated by Tetsuo Hara. Buronson cited Bruce Lee films and Mad Max as the two biggest influences on Fist of the North Star.[6]
  • 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.[7]
  • 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.[8]
  • 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.[9]
  • In Michael D. O'Brien's novel, Eclipse of the Sun, the semi-main character of Father Ron watches the "Road Warrior" for about twenty minutes, before turning it off. He describes it as well done, yet couldn't concentrate. This happens in Chapter 11.
  • Pop singer Kesha 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.[10]
  • The animated series Ben 10: Omniverse explores an alternate universe that strongly resembles that of Mad Max. In this universe, Ben Tennyson (known in this universe as Mad Ben) uses the Omnitrix to establish himself as a warlord and tyrannical master over the remaining people in a post-apocalyptic Bellwood, turned to a desert wasteland. He also has an Australian accent, similar to that of Max Rockatansky, the protagonist of the Mad Max series.
  • An episode of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) features an alternate universe in which Raphael loses his memory and tries to protect a girl that has a secret while finding his brothers on a trek takes inspiration from Mad Max.
  • A Breton chariot racer is named "Madmax" in the 2017 Asterix comic book Asterix and the Chariot Race
  • The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part (2019) features the city of Bricksburg turned into a post-apocalyptic wasteland called "Apocalypseburg", which parodies Mad Max in its tone, aesthetic, and costumes.

Mad Max 2[edit]

  • Filmmakers Guillermo del Toro,[11] David Fincher,[12] and Robert Rodriguez[13] and video game director Hideo Kojima 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.[14]
  • Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin, creators of the comic heroine Tank Girl, describe her as "Mad Max designed by Vivienne Westwood"[15]
  • Waterworld co-writer David Twohy cited Mad Max 2 as a major influence on the film. Both films share the same cinematographer, Dean Semler.[16]
  • The music video for Phil Collins' "Don't Lose My Number" features a sequence inspired by Mad Max 2.[17][18]
  • In the episode of Nickelodeon's Rugrats ("The Sky is Falling"), there is a post-apocalyptic scene which parodies Mad Max 2. The main characters are seen 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, etc.).[19]
  • In the level creator DLC 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."[20]
  • The Fallout series of video games, which has a post-apocalyptic world as their setting, lists Mad Max as one of its influences.[21] 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. (The same armor also appears worn by enemies in later games). Also, in the series the player character can acquire various companions that will accompany the player and help him in his quest; one recurring companion 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 again, and a nearby companion will remark that he'd seen it hanging around with a tough guy wearing black leather.
  • Other videogames inspired by Mad Max or its sequels include Max Payne, Twisted Metal, Carmageddon, Borderlands, Rage and Fuel.[22]
  • The animated series ReBoot features an episode titled "Bad Bob", which is heavily influenced by this film. One of the artists who worked on the episode was Brendan McCarthy, who would later go on to serve as co-writer and concept artist on Mad Max: Fury Road.[23][24]
  • 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 Mötley Crüe 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.[25]
  • Mortal Engines author Philip Reeve stated that the film was an influence on the creation of his particular post apocalyptic universe.[26]
  • Weird Science's climax includes many characters in costumes bearing strong resemblances to the styles seen in the Road Warrior. This includes Vernon Wells reprising his role as Wez.
  • The Road Warriors, a professional wrestling tag team, were inspired by the film's villains; their name is taken from the second film's subtitle.
  • Episode 8 ("Mad Tony: The Food Warrior") of season 2 of Anthony Bourdain's television series A Cook's Tour is set in Australia and features a Road Warrior theme. The final shot mimics the departing scene from the movie, with Bourdain standing in for Gibson.
  • In episode 16, season 5 of the TV series Cheers, Frasier Crane is detained after becoming involved in an altercation at a hockey game. Later, when describing the events to the bar patrons, he says "the next thing I know I'm in the holding cell of some north-end station house with the cast of The Road Warrior."
  • In the South Park season 5 episode 7 "Proper Condom Use" the boys and girls at South Park Elementary get frightened by the fear of STDs and face off against each other with the girls building a refuge like the settlers in Mad Max 2 and the boys trying to chase them out of it like the Marauders. Butters gets on a microphone and delivers an impassioned demand that the girls walk away, and in it he uses both the same cadence and many of the same speech patterns as Lord Humungus.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome[edit]

  • The term "Thunderdome" was adapted by popular culture and appears in various contexts with a meaning similar to that used in the film.
  • George Costanza mentions the film in the 1998 episode of Seinfeld, "The Dealership", when Jerry Seinfeld starts to get ripped off on a car deal.
  • A 2015 television advertisement for NBC's The Voice parodied the "Thunderdome" concept.[27]
  • The 1996 music video for 2Pac's "California Love" includes elements inspired by the Mad Max film, such as car chases in the desert and the Thunderdome itself, according to director Hype Williams.[28]
  • World Championship Wrestling held a "Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal" match at their Halloween Havoc 1992 pay-per-view event between Sting and Jake "The Snake" Roberts that was based on the film. The match was promoted with a segment where Sting and Roberts met in a tavern full of tough customers that resembled Bartertown. The stipulation of their match would be determined by spinning a wheel, similar to the scene in which Max's punishment is determined by a wheel. The bar patrons repeatedly chant "Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal" like in the film.[29]
  • On 1988 Act of God album by Znowhite 5th track is called Thunderdome.[30]
  • The film is parodied in the Rick and Morty episode "Rickmancing the Stone" alongside Mad Max: Fury Road.[31]
  • The playable hero character Tresdin, the Legion Commander in the popular multiplayer online battle arena video game Dota 2 has an ultimate ability that forces an enemy player to fight her in a 1-on-1 duel for a few seconds. Whoever is successful in killing the other during the duration of the ability is rewarded with a permanent damage increase for the rest of the game. The ability is in reference to the "2 men enter, 1 man leaves" rules of the Thunderdome in the film, and indeed, she sometimes even has a voice line saying "Thunderdome!" when activating this ability.
  • In The 10th Installment of the Mortal Kombat Franchise (Mortal Kombat X), a character was introduced named Ferra/Thorr. These are two characters in one, Ferra being a small child who hangs on Thorr's back. This is a reference to Master Blaster from Beyond Thunder Dome. If you pit Johnny Cage against them in a fight, he will say 'Master Blaster' in the introduction, which confirms it being a direct reference.
  • In Episode two of the first season of Eastbound and Down, Danny McBride's character Kenny Powers uses a gym class to re-enact the Thunderdome sequence with pupils wearing protective gear.

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.[32]
  • In a music video by the South Korean pop group Big Bang, entitled "Bang Bang Bang", numerous costumes and props are similar to those 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.[33]
  • Conan O'Brien spoofed the film in an opening sequence for the show's 2015 Comic-Con special.[34]
  • Miracle of Sound's 2015 song "Road Rage" is a tribute to the film[35]
  • The film is parodied in the Rick and Morty episode "Rickmancing the Stone" alongside Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome.[31]
  • A Unikitty! episode, Rainbow Race, pays a lot of homage to Mad Max: Fury Road.


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  2. ^ Yamato, Jen (February 6, 2008). "LQ Jones on A Boy and His Dog: The RT Interview". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  3. ^ "Avis sur la série Violence Jack (1986)". SensCritique (in French). June 30, 2011. Retrieved 22 May 2020. Violence Jack a certainement du influencer beaucoup d'œuvres (le manga papier étant tout de même de 1973), comme Mad Max ou encore Hokuto no Ken. Les motards, la violence, les décors détruits, le désert, les innocents, les ignobles chefs de "tribus", les petits villages abandonnés... tous les codes y sont.
  4. ^ Romano, Sal (9 April 2018). "Interview: Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes' Suda 51 at PAX East 2018". Gematsu. Retrieved 22 May 2020. Suda: All of the desert-setting titles are actually inspired by Violence Jack. That came way before Hokuto no Ken, so that's the real origin of everything.
  5. ^ Gabrielli, Ettore (28 September 2012). "40 anni di Devilman". Lo Spazio Bianco (in Italian). Retrieved 24 May 2020. Eppure senza le sue opere una grossa fetta dell’immaginario popolare non sarebbe la stessa, dai robottoni (che si apprestano a invadere anche i cinema grazie a Guillermo del Toro e al suo Pacific Rim) alle maghette (i Mahō shōjo) delle quali Cutie Honey è antesignana; senza dimenticare le influenze, o quanto meno l’anticipazione di certe tematiche, come l’ambientazione post-olocausto di Violence Jack (1973), che precede di diversi anni film come Mad Max (1979) o fumetti come Ken il Guerriero (1983).
  6. ^ "Interview with Buronson". ADV Films Presents: New Fist of the North Star. Archived from the original on 2007-02-18. Retrieved 2007-07-21.
  7. ^ McDonough, Maitland. "Not Quite Hollywood: the Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation!". Film Journal International. Vol. 112, no. 8., Aug. 2009. p.73
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  10. ^ 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.
  11. ^ "Five Favorite Films With Guillermo Del Toro".
  12. ^ "David Fincher's Favorite Movies of all Time".
  13. ^ "The Reformation of a Rebel Without a Crew". Archived from the original on 2011-01-05.
  14. ^ "James Cameron Interview".
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  18. ^ Pareles, Jon (2 November 1986). "HOME VIDEO; Recent Releases Of Video Cassettes: Photos and 'White Suit'". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 12 October 2014. Retrieved 17 May 2015.
  19. ^ "Mad Max References: Rugrats".
  20. ^ "Cave Johnson voicelines from the new DLC - Steam Users' Forums".
  21. ^ "Fallout: New Vegas designer Josh Sawyer on post-apocalyptic games". the Guardian.
  22. ^ "Roaming The Wasteland: 5 Video Games Inspired By 'Mad Max'". Tech Times.
  23. ^ "Everything's Gone 8-Bit!". Everything's Gone 8-Bit!. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  24. ^ "Exclusive: A Look At Brendan McCarthy And Grant Morrison's Long Lost Movie Pitch, Shatterland". Bleeding Cool News And Rumors. 2013-08-30. Retrieved 2019-08-07.
  25. ^ http://www.waspnation.com/30yearsofthunder.html#Part2
  26. ^ Reeve, Philip. "Philip Reeve Twitter". Twitter. Archived from the original on 18 May 2015. Retrieved 18 May 2015.
  27. ^ Venable, Nick (1 February 2014). "The Voice Channels Mad Max With New Trailer". CinemaBlend.com.
  28. ^ Wilson, Elliott (April 2005). "XXL". Pop Shots. Harris Publications. pp. 131–135.
  29. ^ Chin, Mike (31 October 2008). "The Importance of…10.31.08: The Importance of the Spin the Wheel, Make the Deal Match". 411mania.com.
  30. ^ https://www.discogs.com/ZnoWhite-Act-Of-God/master/268238
  31. ^ a b "'Rick and Morty' Episode 2 Will Feature BDSM Apocalypse Warriors". Inverse. 23 July 2017.
  32. ^ "Tyler, The Creator - Fucking Young". Youtube. Retrieved 7 June 2015.
  33. ^ Gaya. "Big Bang's "Bang Bang Bang" is Fun, but Lacking". Seoul beats. Retrieved 10 Jan 2015.
  34. ^ "Conan Hits Comic-Con® Mad Max-Style". TeamCoco.
  35. ^ "Road Rage - Miracle Of Sound". Miracle Of Sound. 24 June 2015.