What’s Next for Mad Max After Furiosa

3 minute read

Attentive audience members will have noticed the original hero of the Mad Max films, Max Rockatansky, in Furiosa, now in theaters. In the briefest of scenes, Furiosa races past a dune in the desert. On top of that dune stands a man next to a car. That man, watching the action from above, is presumably Max, alongside his famous vehicle, the Interceptor.

If director George Miller has his way, we will see Max again. Miller has spent over 40 years working on various Mad Max films. But at 79 he isn't quite done yet. As the director recently told TIME, he has completed another story centered on Max tentatively titled The Wasteland. Whether that long-rumored film moves ahead depends on the fate of Furiosa at the box office.

"Depending on whether Furiosa gets traction or not, that movie is on the horizon,” he says. Will Tom Hardy return to play Max? Miller smiles conspiratorially. “If the planets align.”

Miller has shared little information on The Wasteland. But here is what we know.

Read more: Furiosa Is All Spectacle and No Vision

What is The Wasteland?

The 2015 movie Mad Max: Fury Road diverged from the Mad Max franchise in several ways. First, Miller replaced Mel Gibson with Tom Hardy in the role of Max, the grizzled cop who lost his family at the beginning of the apocalypse. Second, he centered the action of Fury Road not on Max but a new protagonist: Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron in Fury Road and Anya Taylor-Joy in Furiosa).

When Miller was developing Fury Road—a nearly two-decade-long process—he wrote an entire backstory for Furiosa and shared it with his cast and crew so that they could understand her motivations. That origin tale became the basis for Furiosa.

He also wrote a story centered on Max that filled in the blanks between Max's last appearance in the franchise, in 1985's Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (when the character was still played by Gibson) and the events of Fury Road. Set about a year before the events of Fury Road, it follows Max on some adventure in the barren, post-apocalyptic desert.

When does the Wasteland take place relative to Furiosa?

Miller told TIME that the Wasteland is set one year before the events of Mad Max: Fury Road. Given that the action of Furiosa runs up to the events of Fury RoadFuriosa literally ends with a montage previewing Fury Road's epic chase scene—that means The Wasteland will overlap with the end of Furiosa.

Who is starring in The Wasteland?

The film has not been green lit and has not begun casting, so it is not yet known who will star in the sixth Mad Max film. But Miller told TIME he is hoping that Hardy will reprise his role as Max.

We know that Max and Furiosa don't meet until the events of Fury Road, so it is unlikely Taylor-Joy will show up in The Wasteland. However, there's a chance we could see other characters from Furiosa, like Chris Hemsworth's villain Dementus, pop up.

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Write to Eliana Dockterman at eliana.dockterman@time.com