Mel Gibson Returning As Mad Max In 'Fury Road'

Fourth movie in apocalyptic franchise begins shooting in May.

When Mel Gibson returns to Australia in May, he'll find the post-apocalyptic wasteland he remembers from the '70s and '80s. That's because he'll be shooting "Fury Road," the fourth installment of the "Mad Max" franchise he hasn't visited since 1985's "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome."

Before the big Hollywood gloss of "Signs," "What Women Want" and the string of "Lethal Weapon" movies, there was the gritty "Mad Max." Set in a not-too-distant future ravaged by major turmoil and populated by bandits roaming the wastelands in search of precious gasoline, the cult 1979 flick became a favorite of punk rockers and fantasy film fans alike. It also went a long to way establish Gibson, who played reluctant antihero "Mad" Max Rockatansky.

But it was with the 1981 sequel "The Road Warrior" that Gibson really started to shine. Gibson battled mohawked and hockey-masked bad guys with an even more striking combination of machismo and pathos in his second turn as the forlorn title character, a man doomed to wander the barren outback of the future.

In 1985, just two years before the first "Lethal Weapon" movie, Gibson returned to the "Mad Max" series for the bigger, louder and shinier "Beyond Thunderdome," this time starring opposite Tina Turner. The movie was received with mixed reactions from hardcore fans, but the public at large embraced it with open arms. It also spawned the Turner hit "We Don't Need Another Hero."

"Mad Max" creator George Miller, who directed and co-wrote the first three films, will also tackle "Fury Road." Twentieth Century Fox is putting more than $100 million into the project, close to $25 million of which will reportedly go into Gibson's pocket.