'Mad Max: Fury Road': A look at what Tom Hardy said about gender in the movie

'Max' has drawn praise from many for its lead female character, portrayed by Charlize Theron. Theron is joined this summer by other female leads like Scarlett Johansson in 'Avengers: Age of Ultron,' Emilia Clarke in 'Terminator: Genisys,' and Melissa McCarthy in 'Spy.'

Jasin Boland/Warner Bros. Pictures/AP
'Mad Max: Fury Road' stars Charlize Theron.

“Mad Max: Fury Road” actor Tom Hardy is adding his thoughts to those praising the movie for its female lead character.

In the film, Mr. Hardy stars as Max Rockatansky, a man living in a future world where commodities like gas are scarce. After Max is captured by villain Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), he joins up with Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), who has rescued Immortan Joe’s “wives.” 

According to the website The Mary Sue, Toronto Star writer Peter Howell asked Hardy, “I’ll preface my remarks by saying that I have five sisters, a wife, a daughter, and a mother, so I know what it’s like to be outgunned by estrogen. But I just wanted to ask you, as you were reading the script, did you ever think ‘Why are all these women in here? I thought this was supposed to be a man’s movie?’" 

Hardy replied, “No. Not for one minute,” and Ms. Theron told him, “Good for you.” 

(Mr. Howell later told Buzzfeed, “My question to Tom Hardy was intended as the opposite of sexism. I was congratulating him for his willingness to share the screen with so many strong women in a franchise and genre more inclined to celebrate the male over the female. He was also willing to be in a co-lead role with Charlize Theron, in a movie called ‘Mad Max,’ no less. I think a lot of male stars might have objected to this, but Hardy is of a special breed. But I don’t think I worded my question very well. Hardy just shrugged it off, although I don’t think he was offended by it.”

“Max” is being praised by many for its depiction of Theron’s character and the amount of screen time she gets. Buzzfeed writer Laurie Penny wrote, “If you’re going to bring feminist propaganda to the masses, there are worse ways than in a giant exploding truck covered with knives… The film does not judge its heroines on age and beauty: Together, all of these women give the lie to the notion that there is any proper way to be female on film.” And io9 writer Charlie Jane Anders wrote of the film, “Theron is the emotional linchpin of the movie, channeling so much intensity and grim humor, that she literally drives the story forward. Furiosa is one of the great action heroes, up there with Max himself, and Theron manages to put a lot of nuance and generosity into her. She carries most of the weight of the movie’s themes about self-determination, cult psychology and fertility, and it’s largely thanks to her world-weary performance that the movie can get overtly feminist without ever seeming preachy.”

As noted by Monitor writer Cristina Maza, female action heroes aren’t new – actress Sigourney Weaver led “Aliens,” Linda Hamilton was a central part of the “Terminator” movies, and Tina Turner had a lead role in another “Mad Max” movie, “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.” But Imperator Furiosa arrived onscreen as the American Civil Liberties Union asked federal and state agencies to examine how hiring for Hollywood happens. “We need to have more female directors, producers, and screenplay writers to have films and narratives told from a female perspective,” actress Rachel Weisz told the Hollywood Reporter, while actress Emily Blunt told the HR, “We need to empower female writers. They have a fantastic tap on material and they write better roles for women, and therefore people see better roles for women and they see women in better roles for themselves.”

“Game of Thrones” actress Emilia Clarke is starring as Sarah Connor in the upcoming “Terminator: Genisys” movie, but “Terminator” is a remake and there wasn’t any decision process to have her included in such a central role. Scarlett Johansson starring as the Black Widow in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” was good, but some took issue with her portrayal

Another bright spot is the upcoming movie “Spy” starring Melissa McCarthy, which finds her playing a CIA office worker who gets the opportunity to get out into the field. 

So some female-led action movies are out there this summer. But Hollywood obviously still has far to go.

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