Mad Max’s continuity is pretty confusing. It might be hard to believe, but the 40-year-old franchise spawned from a micro-budget Australian movie about raiders in a post-apocalyptic wasteland does not actually have the most coherent timeline. And with the release of the first trailer for Furiosa, the latest film in the series, things got even more complicated. But we’ll do our best to help you understand it.
The first important thing to remember about Mad Max’s timeline is that it kind of sort of got rebooted, a little. See, Mad Max: Fury Road, the fourth installment in the series, was originally set to release in the ‘90s or early 2000s, with Mel Gibson returning as Max. However, after numerous delays, and numerous instances of Mel Gibson being a horrible person in public, the movie got an updated script and a new Max — the much younger Tom Hardy.
With the change in actors, and Max’s age, the series had to be changed slightly too. As such, Fury Road is set in essentially an alternate timeline from the original movies. Key events happen at slightly different times. In Fury Road’s timeline, the nuclear annihilation of huge portions of humanity happened in between the events of Mad Max and The Road Warrior, rather than after The Road Warrior, like they do in the original trilogy.
All of this makes things especially confusing when the trailer for Furiosa informs us that the events of the movie happen 45 years after the “the Collapse.” Technically this means the movie probably takes place a little less than 45 years after the events of The Road Warrior. This doesn’t make a ton of sense when compared to the events of Fury Road, especially if it’s the same Max character.
But if you’re trying to square that math with either the events of the original Mad Max trilogy or Fury Road, let me offer some helpful advice: don’t. It probably doesn’t make sense. In fact, the comics books that have come out since Fury Road have been trying to fit its timeline back into the original trilogy for years, and never gotten close to succeeding.
And you know what? That’s OK.
Mad Max director, writer, and creator George Miller, in his infinite wisdom, rightly decided with the release of Fury Road that maybe Max is an idea larger than petty grievances like canon and continuity. Max is a myth and a legend, and as Miller himself has supposedly said, he works best as a campfire legend. And Furiosa is no different. The trailer says as much in its first few seconds. This is her Odyssey. She’s destined to become a myth, and myths are too important to worry about whether or not the details line up.