The Doof Warrior is still the most iconic image from Mad Max: Fury Road

Characters like the Doof Warrior don’t appear often. The unofficial mascot of Immortan Joe’s army, and a symbol of the bombast of Mad Max: Fury Roadthe masked rocker with the flame-breathing guitar became an instant hit on the Internet and was immediately inducted into the Hall of Fame of Movie Icons.

The Doof warrior does Mad Max: Fury Road in miniature. Both are combinations of seemingly disparate pieces and random parts, clearly grafted onto each other, but somehow still seamlessly organized to create something perfect and unique. The Doof Warrior is just one of them Furieweg‘s many wonders, but the story of its creation is also the perfect way to understand how the film achieved the legendary status it has today. After all, why wouldn’t the coolest movie of the century so far also feature the coolest character?

The Origin of the Doof Warrior

Just like the rest of Mad Max: Fury RoadComa, the Doof Warrior seems to have emerged from the perfect intersection of a hugely ambitious, visionary filmmaker and technically excellent craftsmen.

The idea, as far as anyone remembers, was all director George Miller’s. In Kyle Buchanan’s book about the making of the film: Blood, sweat and chrome: the wild and true story of Mad Max: Fury RoadMiller explained that the character is there to “distill the nature of Furieweg: A bit wacky, but rooted in some kind of reality. He was the equivalent of the drummer or the bugler, with his electric guitar.” Production designer Colin Gibson put it even more succinctly in an interview with MTV News shortly after the film’s release, he said, “Uncle George, being George Miller, imagined the greatest little drummer boy in the world.”

Image: Warner Bros/Everett Collection

With that idea in mind, Gibson said his job, as he saw it, was to “build the biggest, the last.” Marshall stack at the end of the universe.” And that meant you had to have the coolest guitar from the apocalypse to drive those amps.

To do this, Gibson turned to salvage artist Michael Ulman, who modeled many of the props and vehicles Furieweg. Ulman put together an incredible, sculptural guitar centered around a porcelain bedpan with a French horn in the middle, and Gibson put a real working guitar somewhere in the middle because, as he put it, “George – unfortunately – isn’t into things that not work.” Thus was born the incredible ax of the Doof Warrior, a feat of engineering and art that could actually play music and shoot real flames as it was driven through the desert.

“It’s the crappiest guitar I’ve ever experienced,” says iOTA, the guitarist and performer who played Coma, in Buchanan’s book. But even if the guitar wasn’t ideal to play, that didn’t seem to dampen iOTA’s enthusiasm for the role.

The Doof Warrior was one of many characters for which Miller created a fully developed backstory. According to iOTA in an interview with FilmwebMiller said that Immortan Joe found Coma in a cave and had him train in music to lead his army into battle. With a kind of dark creativity befitting the role, iOTA Miller took it a step further by suggesting that Coma was found in the cave with his mother’s decapitated head in hand, and that Coma ripped off her face and painted it in honor of her as his battle mask.

When the Doof Warrior took over the internet

The Doof Warrior took the internet by storm as soon as he arrived on the scene. Like Cory Watson, the director of Furieweg‘s behind-the-scenes documentary told Buchanan, “You can’t even count the number of articles about the Doof Warrior that came out in a year or two after the movie was released.” Sure enough, he quickly surfaced in memes and gifs on Twitter and as a prime target for fanartbut the way websites wrote about him was an almost perfect reflection of the film’s success.

Although the cultural legacy may now be enormous, Furieweg started small at the box office, with just a $45 million opening weekend. As more people saw the film and told everyone how incredible it was, the film became the legendary “word of mouth” success, eventually grossing over $150 million at the domestic box office and nearly $400 million worldwide.

Likewise, enthusiasm for the Doof Warrior started small, with critics and writers seeing the film early writing about how cool the ‘guitar man’ is‘was, and Explanators emerge as to who exactly the character was. But as more and more people saw Furieweg and started clamoring to find out more about it, internet entertainment channels started to focus their reporting even more and write more and more stories.

Eventually, most stories started calling him by his rightful title, the Doof Warrior, instead of referring to him as Furieweg‘s ‘guitar man’, and the crew happily gave reporters a look behind the scenes. There have been interviews with Gibson And Ulmaneven iOTA itself. What started as an incredible curiosity suddenly grew, just like the film, into a cultural fascination that continues to this day: a cult hit that broke into the mainstream and became an absolute classic.

The Doof Warrior's Doof Wagon flanked by two other Immortan Joe vehicles in Mad Max: Fury Road

Image: Warner Bros.

The Doof Warrior still embodies the spirit of Fury Road

To give you an idea how close Furieweg it became a completely different movie, Miller told Buchanan Blood, sweat and chrome that the studio tried to cut the Doof Warrior several times. Furieweg had several test screenings, and at most of them the Doof Warrior only had a temporary sound, so he played the same guitar riff every time, which irritated the audience. Miller had a lot of experience keeping track Furieweg alive despite studio attempts to shut down production, and the Doof Warrior was no different: the biggest little drummer boy stayed inside.

Miller knew exactly what he was doing with Coma: “What I knew and no one else knew is that his music would evolve, and that would eventually become part of the full orchestration of the story. Of course, by the time the movie was finished, he probably became one of the most popular characters.

And that still applies to this day. The Doof Warrior is an instantly recognizable symbol of Furieweg. A character too cool to play in any other film, but also one of dozens of Miller and crew’s masterworks that help propel the world forward Mad Max: Fury Road from a great film to a true one-of-a-kind classic.