While Mad Max’s spinoff Furiosa will bring back Immortan Joe, that doesn’t mean that the Fury Road villain will necessarily be the antagonist of this long-awaited prequel. 2024’s upcoming Furiosa sees Anya Taylor-Joy play a younger version of Charlize Theron’s Fury Road heroine Furiosa. The first spinoff of the Mad Max movies, Furiosa will depict Furiosa’s journey from childhood in the Green Place of Many Mothers to her eventual Fury Road fate. Furiosa’s synopsis hints that the prequel will also reveal the cause of the Mad Max universe’s offscreen apocalypse, as well as introduce a younger version of Fury Road’s villain Immortan Joe.


However, even with Furiosa’s enigmatic synopsis to work from, viewers can’t be sure quite what to expect from this spinoff. Many Furiosa theories would completely rewrite the history of the Mad Max universe, and the fact that the prequel might address the franchise’s previously-unseen apocalypse alone proves that nothing is out of bounds for the spinoff. On this note, it is possible that Furiosa’s version of Immortan Joe will not be the Fury Road villain that viewers are familiar with. According to Furiosa’s synopsis, the movie’s story will see two Tyrants war for dominance. However, this setup could be more complicated than it appears.

Dementus Could Be Furiosa’s Villain (Not Immortan Joe)

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The premise of Furiosa is that a young Furiosa is swept up into the Great Biker Horde, led by Chis Hemsworth’s Dementus after she is snatched away from her homeland. When the Great Biker Horde arrives at Immortan Joe’s citadel, Dementus and Immortan Joe battle for control of the region. In this scenario, Joe might not be the bad guy. Instead, it could be the events of Furiosa that transform him into a villain. It might be Chris Hemsworth’s Furiosa character who is the prequel’s true villain, and Immortan Joe could be a comparatively decent character driven to evil by both this bloody war and its impact on the Citadel.

This theory is supported by Hemsworth himself, who spoke about how dark the character of Dementus is in an interview with Vanity Fair. Hemsworth said that he “Found ways to defend his actions and empathize and understand him as I had to,” about Dementus. However, the fact that the actor found this difficult implies the character was capable of vicious villainy. While Fury Road‘s Immortan Joe was a murderous, misogynistic monster, there is no way of knowing when he became this bloodthirsty despot. Numerous scenes in Fury Road hint that Immortan Joe thinks he is a god, and these delusions of grandeur may have developed long after Furiosa pledged to serve him.

Immortan Joe Being Good Would Explain Why Furiosa Joined Him

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Furiosa is a tough, callous character in Fury Road, but she is unambiguously the hero of the movie. As such, it is tricky to work out how she ended up working for Immortan Joe in the first place. Since Furiosa can’t stomach the thought of ferrying Immortan Joe’s captive sex slaves around, it seems confusing that she had accepted this role until the events of Fury Road. However, if Furiosa reveals that Immortan Joe used to be a heroic figure (or even a more stable and less horrifically cruel character), this would justify Furiosa’s decision to align herself with him. Strangely, Furiosa’s comic backstory never divulged how she ended up in this predicament. As such, any information revealed in Furiosa could shed light on the Fury Road mystery.

Furiosa Can Show How Immortan Joe Turned Bad

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While the official Fury Road tie-in comic books offer little to supplement Furiosa’s narrative, they do offer a backstory for Immortan Joe. In these comics, Immortan Joe was a corrupt military man who used the power vacuum during the downfall of civilization to start a ruthless fascist militia. However, it is worth noting that Furiosa could easily change this backstory to offer a more nuanced version of Immortan Joe. If Furiosa reveals Immortan Joe’s backstory, the spinoff could make the character’s motivations more complex than they were in both Fury Road and the tie-in comics. In the process, Furiosa could reveal that this younger version of Immortan Joe was originally the lesser of two evils.

This would reflect the story of 1979’s original Mad Max, wherein Max Rockatansky is introduced as a likable rookie cop. When Toecutter’s murderous biker gang repeatedly threatens, harasses, and attacks him, Max takes the high road and diligently avoids resorting to violence. However, when Toecutter and company kill his wife and child, Max spends the rest of the movie murdering them one by one. On a larger scale, Immortan Joe’s backstory could see the character grow gradually more morally ambiguous as Dementus escalates his attacks on the Citadel. Eventually, the return of Fury Road’s Bullet Farmer could signify the monster that Immortan Joe will eventually become.

Making Immortan Joe Less Evil Would Be Risky After Mad Max: Fury Road

Anya Taylor-Joy with fingers tented before her face, gazing steadily ahead, backdropped by crazed mutant Immortan Joe in cyberpunk headgear

It would be very risky for Furiosa to suggest that Immortan Joe wasn’t always evil after the events of Fury Road. However, this is exactly the purpose of the Mad Max franchise, and the fact that moral complexity may upset viewers is no reason to avoid this thorny topic. Mad Max’s original story depicted a seemingly normal man driven to torture and murder by the breakdown of the society around him, and the series has revisited this idea repeatedly in the sequels. In an early script draft, the villain of The Road Warrior was revealed to be Max’s partner Goose from Mad Max, badly burned by an encounter with Toecutter’s gang and driven mad by vengeance.

This idea, that seemingly good people can commit awful acts, is the right one for the franchise to explore. It is the Mad Max franchise’s most revisited central story and Immortan Joe’s origins as a military general are not that different from Max’s work as a police officer. In both cases, these civilians have positions of authority that they could abuse if they choose to. In both cases, the end of the world reshapes their lives and leaves them with a lifetime of experience enforcing law and order in a now-lawless world. As such, it makes sense for Furiosa to reveal Mad Max’s worst villain wasn’t seen as a monster at first.

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