Once upon a time, Marvel Studios was set to bring the Royal Family to the big screen with a film in 2019. Unfortunately, in 2016, the "Inhumans" film ended up being pulled from the schedule, leaving fans to wonder if we'd ever see the Royal Family join the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Then, in 2017, Marvel announced it was bringing the Royal Family to the small screen in an unprecedented deal with IMAX. With filming set to kick off relatively soon, the media giant has begun unveiling the cast members of the forthcoming series, starting with "Game of Thrones" actor Iwan Rheon. The talented actor has been cast in the role of Maximus the Mad, a key character in the royal family. Here's what you need to know...
15 HE IS THE BROTHER OF BLACK BOLT
A member of the Royal Family, Maximus is also the brother of Inhuman King, Blackagar "Black Bolt" Boltagon. Much like with Thor and Loki, the two brothers have quite an unstable relationship. While Black Bolt thrives on his duty as King, constantly maintaining a level of restraint most will never know, Maximus lives to cause chaos. Believing that he is the rightful heir to the throne, Maximus spends most of his days trying to usurp his brother's place.
The volatile relationship between the two brothers goes way back to when they were children, with one of Maximus' early ploys being a pact he made with the Kree, which ultimately led to Black Bolt unleashing his sonic scream on one of their ships. Unfortunately, by unleashing his forbidden power, Black Bolt ended up killing key members of the Genetics Council, including their parents, Agon and Rynda.
14 BLACK BOLT'S SCREAM DROVE HIM MAD
Of course, it was that very event that led to Maximus going Mad. Due to his close proximity to his brother when he screamed, Maximus was driven insane. Although still retaining his intelligence for the most part, Maximus became more unhinged than ever before. He began talking to himself, slowly moving further away from reality over time and unable to see past his delusions.
It's an important moment in both the history of Black Bolt and Maximus because of just how different both brothers react to the event. For Black Bolt, there's a sense of regret, mainly for how he inadvertently killed his parents, but also for injuring his brother. Whereas Maximus sees it as his brother's fault for meddling in the affairs of others. It's those very differences that highlight why Black Bolt is the rightful king of Attilan. He's able to feel a sense of remorse, while his brother can't see past his lust for the throne.
13 HE IS A BAD MAN
When it comes to important villains for the Inhumans, Maximus is the biggest antagonist to the Royal Family. He's the Loki to Thor, constantly wreaking havoc for the Royal Family, and that makes him invaluable to the upcoming television series.
While clearly as mad as his nickname suggests, Maximus is still a powerful foe when it comes to the Inhumans. Not only does he have the ability to manipulate minds, but he's also incredibly intelligent, and that is a lethal combo. He's constantly outsmarting the rest of his family, whether it be finding a way to tear down their palace's shields from the outside, or escaping his jail cell on a fairly regular basis, Maximus has proven he's continually underestimated. If the series goes about writing him properly by taking the time to develop his character over the span of the first season, Maximus the Mad could prove to be a worthy antagonist for many seasons to come, even crossing over into the main MCU films.
12 HE CONTROLS MINDS
While not nearly as powerful as Black Bolt with his sonic scream, Maximus still has an impressive set of powers, paramount among which is his ability to control and manipulate the minds of those around him. Perhaps that's not the best power for someone with his frame of mind to have, but it does make him one of the more dangerous members of the Royal Family and the Marvel universe as a whole.
Although far less powerful than Professor X, Maximus' ability to control minds is still rather impressive. He also has the ability to "numb" the minds of those close to him, as well as the ability to essentially erase the minds of those nearby. The Mad Inhuman has a tendency to use his powers on the Alpha Primitives, beings created to be subservient to the Inhumans. Obviously, they serve as easy targets for him, given their inability to think much for themselves. Of course, along with his powerful mind abilities, Maximus is also highly intelligent, making for a rather worrisome combination.
11 HE IS A GENIUS
Maximus may be Mad, but he's still incredibly smart underneath all the crazy. The arc that showcases the best is the Jenkins & Lee run, where we see the character switch between maniacal and conniving within a few panels. Yet, even with the sudden shifts in personality, Maximus seems to always be a step ahead of his relatives and those around him. In fact, there are moments where it appears he knows how to turn off the Mad act to better suit his schemes.
That's part of what makes him such a fascinating character. While we know that his brother is an in control and incredibly powerful King, there's still a fair share of mystery surrounding him. But when it comes to Maximus, you know what to expect, making him a strange and stark contrast to his brother. He's constantly teetering on the edge of sane and maniacal, using his intelligence to build impressive tools and technology to work in his favor, while also fully embracing his insanity. Maximus may be Mad, but he's still every bit a genius.
10 HE IS EFFECTIVELY DECEPTIVE
Ever since the incident that led to him becoming unhinged, Maximus has found a way to use his mental illness to work in his favor. Whether it be allowing those around him to believe he's having conversations with himself, while really plotting an escape, or using his delusion of becoming King to control the Alpha Primitives to work in his favor, Maximus always seems to find a way to use his mental illness to his advantage.
One of the best examples of this is his relationship with the "Alpha," Woz, in the Jenkins & Lee run, where the madman manages to form a bond with his fellow Inhuman. Although we can see that Maximus clearly doesn't care about the Inhuman, given the way he speaks to him, he manages to convince Woz that the two are alike in a lot of ways and that they must work together to escape. It's the perfect example of who Maximus is; he's conniving and menacing, while also unhinged.
9 HIS GRIP ON REALITY IS LOOSE
As intelligent as Maximus may be, he's still able to fall victim to his own delusions from time to time. That, of course, is understandable, given just how glorious his delusions can be. It's an interesting part of what makes him Maximus the Mad. As smart as he is, and as terrifying as his actions can be, there's still very much an uncertain being underneath it all.
He's unable to distinguish the difference between his lies and his fantasies. To him, it's all the truth and that's quite dangerous when the person at the center of it all has the ability to control the minds of those around him. However, while dangerous, it's also a powerful reminder of just how broken Maximus is and the seriousness of his mental illness. Instead of shying away from the realities of mental disorders, comic writers have fully embraced the truth of living with a mental disease.
8 HE HAS BEEN KING
Although most of his plans to usurp his brother as the King of Attilan result in failure, Maximus has successfully taken over the throne in the comics a couple of times. The most notable time was a few years after Black Bolt assumed the role of King following the incident that killed their parents. After experimenting on the Alpha Primitives illegally, Maximus ends up creating the Trikon, three beings of hugely destructive power.
Using the Trikon, Maximus sets out to cause chaos in Attilan, leaving the beings to destroy the city as the Royal Family went in search of Medusa, who at the time was dealing with a bout of amnesia. It was during that time that Maximus decided to usurp power and take the throne of Attilan for himself. Needless to say, Maximus' fun was short-lived as his brother quickly regained his seat as King upon his return to the city.
7 HE LOVES MEDUSA
One of the creepier aspects of Maximus is his unrequited love for Medusa, Queen of the Inhumans, and the wife of his brother, Black Bolt. His love for the Queen is often unnerving, because like with everything else, Maximus is unable to think outside of his own desires.
Just as he feels the throne is rightfully his, he believes Medusa will come to be his betrothed, joining him at the throne. It's a grand delusion, one that Medusa has learned to use against him when necessary. What makes Maximus' unrequited love for Medusa so unsettling is the fact that it's often a delusion he's unable -- and perhaps unwilling -- to view realistically. While Medusa has (mostly) remained loyal to her husband Black Bolt, there have been instances of Maximus using his powers on her in order to draw her to him. The best example of this was during the "Silent War," where he controlled Medusa's mind, luring her to visit him in his cell, and ultimately, to share a kiss with him in front of her husband.
6 HE BUILT THE TERRIGEN BOMB
One of the most important devices in the Inhumans comics would easily have to be the Terrigen Bomb, simply because of how big an impact it had in Marvel Comics, ripping a hole in both time and space while also leaving the Royal Family to believe Black Bolt dead. It also tore open another rift, between the Inhumans and the mutant population of earth, to whom the mists are lethal.
Much like with most things Maximus builds, the "T-Bomb" was created as a way to increase his authority, in this case by turning everyone into an Inhuman, thus ensuring more potential future subjects. The weapon was something that he'd built during the war between the Kree Empire and the Shi'ar. Of course, while the "T-Bomb" played a huge role within the comics, it's hard to imagine we'll see it make its way to the upcoming "Inhumans" series anytime soon. Although, given the fact that the Terrigen Bomb is linked to the origin of Ms. Marvel (Kamala Khan), one can hope we'll see it on screen someday.
5 HE PREYS ON THE WEAK
When it comes to Maximus, a common thread in his ploys is the involvement of the Alpha Primitives, a group of beings created specifically for the task of keeping Attilan running. The Primitives are driven by their need to serve their King, Black Bolt, and the rest of the Royal Family. They lack the inability to truly understand that they are merely a piece of the machine, making them an easy target for someone like Maximus to influence.
Interestingly enough, we've seen a version of the Alpha Primitives on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." during the show's third season. While the show spent a good amount of its previous two seasons exploring various Inhumans from Marvel Comics, it is not set to connect to the forthcoming "Inhumans" series on ABC. This means that, should the series bring in the Alpha Primitives to work with Maximus, it's more than likely they'll be far different than those we've seen on "S.H.I.E.L.D." Still, when it comes to who he perceives to be weak-willed, there is not lengths to which Maximus will go to exert his influence.
4 HE CURATES MASS DESTRUCTION
Along with the helping to build the all important Terrigen Bomb, Maximus has built a number of weapons of mass destruction, including the Atmo-Gun, which he created to destroy the human race, as well as the hypno gun, a device he created to try and make the human race fall under his commands. These weapons are reminders that, while Maximus may often lean more towards being insane, his mind is never clearer than when he must destroy something.
Some of his most impressive equipment designs include what he has called Echo-Technology, a brand of tech that manages to store whispers from Black Bolt. Then there's Omega, an android he designed that runs on the guilt the Inhumans have over the Alpha Primitives. Yup, he made guilt into clean energy. Mad like a fox, are we right!? Whether or not we'll see any of this innovation showcased on the "Inhumans" series is yet to be seen, but if those behind the show are to develop Maximus as both a genius and unstable, it's vital they showcase just what he is capable of.
3 HE DIED
Because these are comics we're talking about here, Maximus the Mad was actually killed during the events of Marvel's Secret Wars and was brought back due to the events of Civil War II following the restoration of the Multiverse. His uneventful death came in the seventh issue of "Secret Wars," where Maximus was killed off shortly after being revealed as The Prophet, a subversive icon who was trying to undermine God King Doom.
It was a bit of a non-event, especially given how quickly it came about, but again, given that these are comic characters, death only lasts for so long. So, when the character was brought back during the events of "Civil War II," it wasn't entirely unsurprising. As writer Charles Soule described at the time, the chaos of "Civil War II" seemed like a perfect time to bring the character back because the fact of the matter is, he's like DC's Joker -- he thrives off of chaos, presenting a dreamlike situation for the character that, for his enemies, almost always ends in a nightmare.
2 HE'S NOT ALL BAD
Although primarily a villain in older "Inhumans" runs, Marvel has taken Maximus in a new direction in recent years, turning him into more of an anti-hero. He's no longer merely a super-villain, and even though even we have painted him as one above, he kind of never was. That, of course is a fine line to argue, being somewhere between evil and ambitious (and just plain crazy). Indeed, Marvel has opted to further develop the character, giving him a bit of a gray area, much along the lines of what it has done to Loki and Deadpool, two characters that aren't necessarily heroes, but also have their fair share of redeeming qualities.
In recent years Max has grown less eager to overthrow his brother at the throne and has sometimes begrudgingly come to the aid of his family when needed. His ruthlessness has served him well, even saving the 616 universe a few times when he was with Thanos' Cabal in Hickman's "New Avengers" run. Of course, he had to help destroy other Earths to do it, but never mind! It'll be interesting to see which direction the television series decides to take the character. His recent multi-faceted character would be much more compelling for TV.
1 HE IS COMING
The first actor announced as part of the cast of ABC's forthcoming "Inhumans," Iwan Rheon has been the fan-favorite for the role of Maximus the Mad long before the Royal Family was confirmed to be relocating to the small screen. While Rheon is best known for his work as the terrible Ramsey on HBO's "Game of Thrones," the actor's career truly took off following his time as Simon Bellamy on E4's "Misfits."
Although far from a household name, Rheon is easily one of the best young talents in Hollywood, and the fact that Marvel Television was able to snag him for "Inhumans" is impressive. It's also a sign that the network is seeking a certain caliber of talent for the Royal Family. While there's still plenty we don't know regarding the series, it's safe to say that Rheon is sure to deliver a top-notch performance as the scatter-minded, maniacal genius known as Maximus.
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