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|“||I am your redeemer! It is by my hand, you will rise from the ashes of this world!||„|
|~ Immortan Joe|
Immortan Joe is the main antagonist of the 2015 Warner Bros. Oscar-winning action movie hit, Mad Max: Fury Road. He is the tyrannical and manipulative founder and gang leader of the War Boys, and currently the most powerful of the warlords controlling the wastelands.
Immortan Joe rules the wasteland from his Citadel, keeping his citizenry in line through use of the aquifer concealed under his fortress, encouraging them to worship him as a messiah. Old and diseased, Joe is now determined to ensure that his kingdom remains intact long after his death: to that end, he keeps a harem of wives captive, hoping to produce a viable heir through their repeated rape. When his wives are freed by Joe's Imperator Furiosa, Joe and the War Boys set out to recapture them.
He was portrayed by Hugh Keays-Byrne, who previously portrayed Toecutter in Mad Max (1979).
Immediately distinguished by his skull-like gas mask and long white hair, Immortan Joe is never seen in public without his armor and medals of office. Made of bulletproof plastic, his body armor offers him substantial protection in wartime, and also makes him seem more impressive to observers thanks to the muscles sculpted into the breastplate. Joe continues the trend of impressing his followers through the collection of medals and trophies covering his armor, along with two rare silver revolvers and an ornate sceptre.
Under his armor, Joe is old, overweight, and diseased: his skin is pale and covered in tumors and open sores, indicating he may be suffering from cancer or another illness caused by exposure to nuclear fallout. He also appears to be suffering from respiratory problems, requiring a bladder of purified air attached to his gas mask in order to breathe properly. At times, he has difficulty walking unassisted, requiring the aid of his son Rictus in order to make it as far as the Citadel balcony - ironic, considering the War Boys' policy of "If you can't stand up, you can't do war.". Needless to say, Joe is extremely attentive and careful to hide the truth of his condition from his followers, and his ongoing illness only makes him more anxious to acquire a healthy male heir before he finally succumbs.
Mad Max: Fury Road
Early Life and Biography
Little is known of Joe's life prior to the apocalypse. However, when the conflict that led to the end of civilization began, Joe Moore was a Colonel in the Australian army: already a veteran of the Oil Wars, he emerged a hero of the Water Wars. However, the heroism - whether real or simply good PR - ultimately did little to save the world from the global collapse of society, and Joe quickly found himself the highest-ranking officer remaining in the entire army. Banking on his authority among his own men and his skills as a solder, he formed a biker gang of fellow ex-soldiers in the hopes of restoring order to the world; among his ranks were such figures as the henchmen dubbed Major Kalashnikov (later known as The Bullet Farmer) and the strategist Deepdog. With each battle, the gang grew stronger by slaughtering the leaders of other gangs and taking their women - his idea of bringing back society taking a dark turn from then on.
Eventually, he and his gang entered the wasteland, and with the help of a nameless local guide (later known as The People Eater) discovered a massive aquifer hidden in the desert. The aquifer was already occupied, however, and Joe's attempts to exchange captive women for water ended in failure; so, he instead took it by force, gradually taking over the rock fortress through superior tactics. Now in charge of the single biggest supply of water in the wasteland, he renamed the aquifer as his Citadel, gaining substantial followers by supplying them with water in exchange for their loyalty and adulation. He expanded his power by claiming a derelict oil refinery and an abandoned lead mine some distance from the Citadel: under the management of the People Eater and the Bullet Farmer, these two sites supplied him with the guzzoline and bullets he needed to enforce his growing empire.
Soon, the man once-known as Joe Moore was being worshiped as a savior by the people of the wasteland, renamed "Immortan Joe" for his great age and seemingly impossible survival skills. His gang, now known as the "War Boys," was no longer composed of professional soldiers, but of fanatical worshipers raised from childhood to serve his every whim. Joe indoctrinated his servants to obey without question and love him unceasingly, serving as their king, their father and their god; in return, he promised to deliver them to the warrior heaven of Valhalla, where they would ride the highways and feast with fellow heroes for all eternity. With many of the War Boys doomed to "half-life" by radiation sickness and other ailments, they were glad to sacrifice their lives to their beloved Immortan. As such, the service of the War Boys was virtually guaranteed: War Boy patrols often stalked the wasteland, capturing vehicles and travelers alike and dragging them back to the Citadel to serve as Joe's slaves, and many others sought out glorious deaths in battles with Joe's enemies, killing themselves in dramatic suicide attacks.
However, though he enjoyed the power he held over his followers and the extravagant lifestyle it afforded him, Joe wanted to maintain that power long after his death: he wanted a legacy. To that end, he captured a harem of beautiful women and tasked them with bearing his offspring, granting them luxuries beyond the reach of most wasteland citizens - including rare books and musical instruments. Ultimately, this opulence was little more than window dressing for the life of sexual slavery the wives had to endure: kept imprisoned behind a bank vault door and fitted with chastity belts to prevent sexual infidelity of any kind, they were forced to endure Joe's constant sexual advances, with harsh punishments meted out to any who dared dissent. Those who failed to provide him with an heir after three pregnancies were demoted to providing milk for the heads of Joe's empire, spending the rest of their lives as human cows for the Citadel.
By this method, Joe successfully acquired three sons: Rictus Erectus, Corpus Colossus and Scabrous Scrotus. However, all were unsuitable heirs: Rictus was immensely strong, but had the mind of a child and no instinct for leadership; Corpus was possessed of a brilliant mind, but his physical disabilities left him incapable of commanding respect among the War Boys; Scabrous was a ravening monster, a marauding psychopath who'd almost certainly destroy Joe's empire if ever allowed to claim it. So the search for a healthy heir continued, Joe growing ever-more desperate as his own illness became apparent.
Present DayAt the beginning of the film, Max Rockatansky is captured by one of Immortan Joe's patrols and brought back to the Citadel as a slave. As is the policy with most male slaves of compatible blood type, Max is used as an unwilling donor for an ailing War Boy - in this case, Nux. Soon after, Joe himself sends off his War Rig to collect the owed tribute of guzzoline from Gastown and bullets from the Bullet Far, with Imperator Furiosa behind the Rig's wheel. Unbeknownst to the War Boys, Furiosa is using this opportunity to smuggle Joe's wives to freedom, keeping the entire harem concealed in a hidden compartment within the rig.
Unfortunately, Furiosa's deception does not go unnoticed for long: as soon as the rig leaves the road to Gastown, Corpus Colossus alerts his father to the unexpected change in course, prompting a suspicious Joe to investigate the vault where he normally keeps his wives. Upon finding it empty except for the shotgun-toting Miss Giddy, he pauses just long enough to disarm and interrogate her before sounding the alarm: as a result, Immortan Joe's entire army is mobilized against the fleeing War Rig with Joe himself in the lead aboard the Gigahorse, along with reinforcements led by the People Eater and the Bullet Farmer. Even the sickly Nux joins the war party on a pursuit vehicle - dragging Max into the conflict as well.
Joe's first attempts at reclaiming the Rig are unsuccessful: though a number of his pursuit vehicles are able to reach Furiosa ahead of the rest of the army, most of them are wiped out in a dust storm, while Nux loses his chance to capture the rig when Max escapes and overpowers him. Furiosa (now in a tentative partnership with Max) further stymies Joe's attempts to catch up with the rig by leading them into the canyons and allowing the Rock Rider motorcycle gang to block the path with explosives. This time, however, Joe is able to bypass the obstacle by commandeering Rictus Erectus' personal vehicle, the Bigfoot; with Rictus and a small party of War Boys in tow, he assaults the Rig head on - only declining a chance to shoot Furiosa when his favourite wife, the heavily-pregnant Angharad, shields her.
After Nux once again tries and fails to gain Joe's approval in a botched attempt at capturing the rig (succeeding only in tripping himself up and losing one of Joe's prized revolvers in the process), he resorts to harpooning the Rig's steering wheel in an attempt to reel Furiosa in. Angharad is able to detatch the harpoon chain with a pair of bolt cutters, but in the ensuing chaos, she tumbles off the War Rig and directly into the path of the oncoming Bigfoot; though Joe swerves to avoid her, he succeeds only in crashing the car and mortally wounding his most valuable possession.
That evening, with the Rig well out of reach and the Bullet Farmer pursuing it through the marshland, Angharad dies of her injuries. Apparently undismayed, Immortan Joe has the Organic Mechanic perform an emergency c-section in an attempt to save the baby - only to find that the baby is already dead. To Joe's further disappointment, the dead child was exactly the heir he had been hoping for: male, disease-free, perfect in every way.
With the Bullet Farmer dead and Nux having been persuaded to join Furiosa, the Rig is apparently out of Joe's reach, allowing the narrative to temporarily leave him behind. However, around this time, deleted scenes feature him torturing Miss Giddy almost to death, before ordering his War Boys to spread out across the wastes in search of Furiosa - leaving the mortally-wounded Giddy behind with Angharad's corpse, to be devoured by crows.
After their plans to seek out the Green Place fail, Max and Furiosa hit upon a more audacious plan to claim Immortan Joe's own Citadel. Seeing the rig making its way back across the wasteland, Joe immediately realizes their plan; knowing that the Citadel has been left undefended, he orders an frantic pursuit. During the ensuing clash between Joe's convey and the War Rig, most of the War Boys are killed, the People Eater is shot dead by Joe while being used as a human shield by Max, another of the wives is recaptured, and Furiosa is severely wounded. Despite her injuries, she manages to align the War Ring with Joe's Gigahorse and clamber aboard.
Lowering the window to shoot Furiosa, Joe is stymied one last time when Toast, the recaptured wife, tries to wrestle the gun out of his hands. Enraged, he viciously pistol-whips Toast across the face - only for Furiosa to seize the opportunity to pounce: hooking a chain to Joe's skull mask, she flings the other end of the chain under one of the Gigahorse's tires, ripping off his mask and taking most of Joe's face with it - killing him instantly.
In a final insult, his corpse is brought back to the Citadel on the hood of the Gigahorse to displayed before his stunned followers, ending both his pretensions of immortality and his kingdom.
Joe displays many traits typical of cult leaders and dictators. He is a tremendous and sensational public speaker, delivering lofty speeches to elicit fealty from his subjects. He regularly demonstrates his control over The Citadel's resources, constantly reaffirming his dominion over the population. He commands a horde of fanatical warriors who worship him and follow him without question, even going so far as to sacrifice their lives for his every whim. In turn, he offers them the promise of eternal life with him in Valhalla.
Despite his oppressive and totalitarian nature, Joe does seem to have an altruistic and compassionate side. He sincerely believes that he is doing right by society within The Citadel: by rationing the water, growing and distributing crops, capturing "blood bags" (enslaved individuals used as blood donors) for medical use, and by implementing a "breeding program". He has a great affection for his wives but treats them as objects rather than people, referring to them as his "treasures". In the Mad Max: Fury Road comic, he considers the wives ungrateful for what he apparently sincerely considers to be extremely generous and charitable. He seems to think his keeping the wives prisoner as sex slaves is truly what's best for them and thinks of them as spoiled when they verbally rebel.
Joe's sexual tendencies are covered much more in the comics and are suggested to be unusual. In the presence of his wives, he refers to himself as "daddy", asking Cheedo to sit on his lap like a child and seemingly taking pleasure in the age gap between him and his wives. Toast also remarks that during one of her rapes he had penetrated her anally rather than vaginally. This suggests that while Joe does place obtaining a healthy heir as a high priority, he still to a degree uses sex with the wives just for pleasure. It is also hinted at in the comic that he may have a closeted attraction to men. The wives mock him by saying he would rather sleep with a War Boy than with them, and the History Man narrating the comic shares this sentiment. In support of this claim, Joe has in the comics been seen encouraging War Boy's to refer to him as "daddy", a parallel with how he talks to his wives. He is for example seen in his own origin comic telling the War Boys "daddy loves you".
Joe is an older man of stocky build, with long white hair and piercing blue eyes. His health is failing. His back is covered in large boils. He seems to have respiratory problems but due to his rank in society, he breathes clean air through a respirator mask (decorated with horse teeth to resemble a skeletal jaw) connected to a large breathing apparatus (resembling bellows worn on his shoulders. Joe covers himself from head to toe in white powder to ease his pain, giving him a ghostly pallor which is mimicked by War Boys (makeup design was inspired by Indian holy men). He wears bulletproof Plexiglas armor, which is adorned with several service medals and molded to give him a muscular appearance. His elaborate costume is designed to both aid his failing body and hide it from the prying eyes of The Wretched and War Boys. It is also used as means of intimidation.
Powers and Abilities
- Charisma: A masterful and proficient orator and a celebrated military leader, Immortan Joe was able to use his personal charm to pose as a messiah to the people of the Wasteland, attracting hundreds of devoted followers and servants in the process. Thanks to Joe's indoctrination, the War Boys will do anything for him.
- Cunning: Joe possesses a keen intellect, having already used it to build his own private kingdom from the post-apocalyptic ruins of the world and secure the resources necessary to fuel it. He is also savvy enough to guess at Furiosa's next course of action from the first clues available, immediately recognizing her journey offroad as an escape attempt by the wives, and later realizing that Max and Furiosa intend to take the Citadel for themselves.
- Driving Skills: A skilled driver, Joe proves himself capable of outmaneuvering and keeping pace with the war rig - not only behind the wheel of his Gigahorse, but also while driving Rictus Erectus' own vehicle.
- Marksmanship: Joe is an excellent shot, capable of firing his revolver one-handed while driving and retaining enough accuracy to land direct hits; had Max not been using the People Eater as a human shield, Joe would have easily killed him.
The Gigahorse: A gargantuan monster truck made from two sandwiched 1958 Cadillac Coup Devilles that serves as the vehicular throne for Joe.
|“||Once again, we send off my War Rig to bring back guzzoline from Gas Town and bullets from the Bullet Farm. Once again, I salute my Imperator Furiosa, and I salute my half-life War Boys, who will ride with me eternal on the highways of Valhalla. I am your redeemer! It is by my hand that you will rise from the ashes of this world!||„|
|~ Immortan Joe, in his address to the wasteland|
|“||Do not, my friends, become addicted to water: it will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!||„|
|~ Immortan Joe, admonishing the crowd for rioting over water|
|“||You will ride eternal, shiny and chrome!||„|
|~ Immortan Joe to Nux.|
- The scepter carried by Joe in the film is actually a personal artifact belonging to his actor Keays-Byrne, a memento of his mother-in-law.