Is Mad Max Steampunk?

Is Mad Max Steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key elements of the movie in order to decide whether it meets the criteria in order to be classified as steampunk or not. If not, does it fit into one of the other punk aesthetics? Let’s find out. 

Before we get into whether Mad Max is steampunk or not, let’s look at what the film is about to get a flavor as to whether it is steampunk or not. 

Movie Title: Mad Max

Studio: Warner Brothers

Director: George Miller

Story By: George Miller, Byron Kennedy

Release Date: 1979

Main Actors: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne

Synopsis: Mad Max takes place in the near future in a dystopian Australia.  It is the story of a highway patrolman cruising the back roads which have become the breeding ground for criminals foraging for gasoline, ‘guzzoline’, and scraps of steel.

Max resigns after his son is murdered and he goes off with his sawn off shotgun to seek his revenge. 

What Makes a Movie Steampunk?

Before we answer the question, is Mad Max steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key characteristics of a steampunk movie.

There are a number of elements that need to combine in order to classify a movie as steampunk. Check out our in depth guide as to what makes a movie steampunk for more information on this. Whether something fits into the steampunk genre or not is a topic that is always up for hot debate in the forums. 

As steampunk sadly never existed, there is no history to check the validity against, however, there is some faux pas that means that something is clearly not steampunk. Things such as this we would class as being ‘steampunk inspired’, i.e. they don’t traditionally conform to the steampunk genre, but they have taken elements from it to inspire them. 

As a quick recap, we’ve lined up our top 10 elements to look out for in a steampunk movie. 

Top 10 Things to Look Out for In a Steampunk Movie

  1. The Use of Steam – In steampunk, electricity has never been invented, everything is mechanical and powered by steam. This means that if you can see digital machinery in a movie, it isn’t traditional steampunk, therefore it may be classified as ‘steampunk inspires’  
  2. Steam Powered Vehicles – In steampunk movies, as with the above, you will only see vehicles powered by steam, cars, ships, and even submarines.
  3. Airships – Airships are popular within the steampunk genre – again, mechanically powered.  
  4. Set In Victorian Era or an Alternative History – Steampunk is set in either Victorian Era (19th Century), or in an alternative, future. 
  5. The Clothing – Clothing can vary, but is normally focused around the fashions of Victorian England, or that of a colonial explorer. 
  6. Augmented Mechanical Humans – In steampunk, persons can normally be seen with mechanically replaced elements to their body, sometimes these are full replacements, othertimes, a mechanical exoskeleton.
  7. Gadgets & Gears – futuristic (mechanical) gadgets are common place in the steampunk genre. A personal favorite is a gun that meganically springs from up a sleve to the users hand, ready and poised for use. Gears can be seen throughout the steampunk genre, empahising the mechanical theme that is central to the aesthetic.  
  8. Time Travel – Time travel is no an essential component of steampunk, however, it can be seen in some steampunk works. Just remember that the time travel device needs to be mechanical and not digital/ electronic.
  9. The Paranormal – The paranormal is not traditional steampunk, however, the crossover between the genres is common. The villain in steampunk is normally a man made creation as opposed to being a mythical creature, demon, vampire, etc. 
  10. Advanced Technology – Technology that is advanced for its time is a standard theme throughout steampunk. The technology must be mechanical in nature, such as the analog computer. 

For more detail, check out our ultimate guide as to what makes a movie steampunk.

What Elements of Mad Max Are Steampunk?

Mad Max contains a lot of brass, steampunk style goggles, and cogs throughout, these are all traditionally seen within the steampunk genre.

What Elements of Mad Max Are NOT Steampunk?

Steampunk is about the possibility, the possibility of a world without electricity and instead with steam and invention at the helm. Is Mad Max Steampunk?

Unfortunately, this cannot be seen in Mad Max. Mad Max is set in a post-apocalyptic setting. With society struggling to survive after a nuclear war. The irony is that society is still in decline and is almost pre-apocalyptic in this respect.

Furthermore, vehicles are run on ‘guzzoline’, i.e not steam, which is a key feature of steampunk. This fact alone would mean that Mad Max would fit neater into the dieselpunk genre as opposed to the steampunk movement.  

Dieselpunk focuses on war and weaponry whereas steampunk is more about invention and innovation. Although steampunk does feature guns, they are not as prevent as in the dieselpunk genre, including in Mad Max.

Check out the Best Steampunk Movies

If you’re interested in steampunk movies, why not check out our guide to the best steampunk movies, and see if you can find a new favorite?

So, Overall Is Mad Max Steampunk?

In summary, no, Mad Max is not steampunk at all. Although it is understandable why some people may think that it is with the use of steampunk goggles, and cogs. However, the key element of everything, vehicles alike, being powered by steam, is missing. This fact alone means that Mad Max does not fit into the genre, it is more dieselpunk in its aesthetic.

What are your thoughts? Is Mad Max Steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.

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