Although George Miller was developing Mad Max: Fury Road for some 20 years, the basic idea and plot for the movie stayed more or less the same all that time.
A new book called The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road includes a photo of Miller's handwritten outline for the movie, put down on paper in 1997 and called Legend of the Fury Road. The outline lays down much of the back story and plot as Miller saw it back then:
The text in the photo is a little hard to read, so here's a transcription done by Hitfix:
ONCE UPON A TIME... in a dark and toxic land, there lived a WARLORD.
- The warlord was brutal and cruel, and the people of his kingdom lived in misery, disease and terror. Poverty and slavery were all they knew... But the warlord had a secret: hidden from view, high in the chambers of his castle, were SIX YOUNG PRINCESSES. These girls were his only love.
- Many years ago, the warlord had stolen these girls as babies, and abducted them to his fortress... And there they would remain until they were old enough to bear him healthy children, for all children born by the women within the kingdom were inflicted by plague and sadness. The girls were his last hope.
- The oldest princess was already pregnant with his child, and the warlord knew that the time was near, when, at last he would have a healthy son, and his dynasty would continue...
The warlord trusted no one, except a beautiful and fierce WARRIOR WOMAN, who commanded his army and watched over the six girls.
The Warrior Woman came from another land, another tribe... And like the girls, she had been captured by the warlord but had risen up through the ranks of his army to become his most feared and respected soldier, his most favoured comrade...
- AND SO SHE BETRAYED HIM...
Under cover of a trading convoy, Warrior Woman hid the six girls in her wagon, and began a hazardous journey through the only means of escape from the warlord's kingdom: THE FURY ROAD. The Warrior Woman would return the girls back to their original home... at the other end of the Furiosso.
This place was an eden. A haven of love and freedom... It had been named "GYNOTOPIA" by the tribe of women who had founded it. This too had been Warrior Woman's home. This enlightened place was to be the best future for the girls and their child-to-be. Far away from the terror of the bleak male domain of the warlord, the girls could thrive in this new society.
THE WARLORD’S rage knew no limits. He gathered together the awesome force of his armada and commanded his warrior boys to bring back 'THE SIX' unharmed... And to kill the Warrior Woman. He would lead the armada himself.
- Down in the dark underworld of the warlord's fortress were many slaves. Many of these wretched souls planned their escape from this hell hole... None had survived the brutality of the Fury Road. But for one of these slaves, freedom was all that mattered. Once this slave had been a great warrior, and possessed a pure and noble heart. His name was MAX.
The warrior boy NUX, in need of a tracker on the Fury Road, selected the slave-dog 'MAX'. Chaining his dog to his wrist, Nux drove off down the Fury Road to find and kill his former commander, Warrior Woman, and return the six to his beloved warlord.
When a powerful FURY STORM blew in, the slave Max overpowered Nux in the ferocious wind. Unable to sever the chain, Max dragged Nux out of the storm and stumbled across his means of escape...
Warrior Woman and the six girls…TO BE CONTINUED…
And here's a storyboard from the same era:
As you can see, a lot of the major mythology and story points have remained intact all this time. The "Warrior Woman" is not named Furiosa (Charlize Theron) yet, Immortan Joe has six wives instead of five, and there are other marginal variations as well. But even back in the earliest days of the project, Miller's concept of what he wanted to create -- including the movie's powerful feminist viewpoint -- was clear.
Perhaps that is why Mad Max: Fury Road has already become an instant classic, because the director's singular vision was never smothered or diluted by studio interference or filmmaking by committee. Imagine if more movies were made that way ...