Why Charlize Theron's 'Mad Max' Disabled Character Is 'Utter Perfection'


The new Mad Max film is the most asskicking action movie of the year, no doubt, but one amputee fan found Charlize Theron's performance so moving that it left her in tears. For her, it was powerful to see her "own struggle brought to life" on the big screen.

Over on her personal Tumblr, Laura Vaughn wrote a touching post about her personal experience watching Mad Max: Fury Road. A fetal amputee—"Fancy way for saying I was born with a missing limb," she writes—Vaughn had "NEVER seen a physically disabled, kickass, female lead character in a Hollywood movie EVER" until Theron's Furiosa in Fury Road. She goes on:

Watch Furiosa load a shotgun. Watch Furiosa punch Max in the face, with her nubbins. Watch Furiosa drive a semi tractor trailer. Watch Furiosa fire a long shot, using Max’s shoulder to stabilize the gun barrel, as an alternative to using two hands! Watch Furiosa do anything you can do, but better, and with half the number of fingers.

The effortless manner in which this film has presented a character’s disability is incredible. I literally could not ask for anything more. It’s ubiquitous. No big deal. Her body is never a plot point. It is simply allowed to be.

For Vaughn, that Fury Road doesn't dwell on Furiosa's disability is speaks much louder than actually making a big deal out of it, giving it a tragic backstory, or ever pitying her. Even better, it never makes her prosthetic a gag, like Rose McGowan's gun leg in Grindhouse, or the blade feet more recently seen in Kingsman. She says she's going to have to cosplay her now.

Mad Max: Fury Road opened last week to much ballyhooing from critics, backlash from misogynists who didn't even see the movie yet, and a debate over whether or not it was actually feminist. And while representation can be in the eye of the beholder, Theron herself told The Guardian she was surprised at how important her character was to the movie. "Reading the script, part of me felt shocked at how much she was given and emotionally drives this story," she says.

"The problem with how movies represent women goes right back to the Madonna/whore complex," Theron adds.

Vaughn also points out that in addition to being an effortlessly badass, asskicking amputee, Furiosa bucks the conventional action movie heroine trope of being an "unfeeling hard ass," by actually being compassionate. "In conclusion. This movie is feminist. It is powerful. It presents ability in a realistic, beautiful way," she writes.

So feminist that this writer's scrotum shrunk while watching the movie.